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What’s in store for Ford this year?

In the news: Ford has confirmed that Lincoln will be getting a seven-passenger crossover vehicle based on the same platform as the upcoming production version of the Ford Fairlane.

The Detroit automaker announced the move at a recent analyst meeting where it also conducted a presentation of the new Lincoln crossover.

It can be recalled that in the 2005 Auto Show circuit, Ford revealed a new concept car with the Fairlane nameplate: the "people-mover" Fairlane crossover utility vehicle concept featured three-row seating for six passengers, and previewed the chromed three bar horizontal grill design, which also appeared on the 2006 Ford Fusion sedan and 2007 Ford Edge crossover utility vehicle.

According to news reports, the Lincoln crossover's codename is D472 and it is expected to reach showrooms next year as a 2009 model. The Lincoln crossover however, will not be a rebadged Ford Fairlane as many speculated.

Peter Horbury, Ford's Design Chief in the U.S., has compared the D472's styling with the "sleekness of a Gulfstream jet."

Derrick Kuzak, Ford's global product chief also commented that the sharing of platforms while maintaining distinctive styling is the key to Ford's success. The Lincoln crossover does share "some hard points" with the Fairlane-inspired production vehicle, but it still takes a major departure in styling, Kuzak said.

While it will share significant points with the Fairlane, the entire skin should be all Lincoln and sport the double-wing grille, high beltline and thin taillamps and other Lincoln Parts that Ford has said will be the brand's styling cues. This will be a new family look for the brand, which will also be seen on the upcoming MKS sedan.

Aside from the producing the Fairlane-based D472 crossover, Ford will also reportedly redesign its Ford Focus. The automaker has also reportedly scratched the Focus hatchback and wagon from the lineup for 2008.

The 2008 Focus will feature a 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine set to deliver an estimated 136 horses. The engine is linked to a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. The re-engineered suspension on the Focus includes new shock absorbers, different spring rates, and new antiroll bars and bushings.

Also getting an upgrade is the Ford Five Hundred which will receive a major powertrain upgrade for the 2008 model year as Ford ditches the tepid 200-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 and replaces it with a new 260-hp 3.5-liter V6.

The Five Hundred gets a face lift as well, apparently following the footsteps of its much more stylish cousin, the Ford Fusion. The sedan gets the more distinctive three-bar horizontal grille now rapidly becoming the "face of Ford." The front fascia, headlights and hood, as well as the taillights, have been freshened up, too.

Also expect Ford's new six-speed automatic transmission - co-developed with General Motors, to be in the new Five Hundred. The six-speed is standard, replacing the CVT and Aisin six-speed automatic that had been standard on the previous models. The new 3.5-liter V6 delivers 245 pound-feet of torque.

The Five Hundred also gets optional stability control for the first time. It hits showrooms in summer 2007.

About the Author: Corey Putton is a 28-year old bachelor from Pittsburgh, PA who has been around cars for the better part of his life. He now works online and writes all about his passion: cars. He is also a certified mechanic.

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