Ford will closely evaluate sales of its Explorer before deciding what to do about future variants of the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT.

Now that Ford has formally taken the wraps off of its 2011 Explorer, the automaker is patiently waiting to determine the future of its Flex and Lincoln MKT models.

Ford told Leftlane at one of the Explorer's launch parties across North America that the Explorer could easily cannibalize Flex sales, although it was content to wait for the market to make that decision. Neither the Flex nor the MKT has seen particularly strong sales.

Now, a report out of Detroit suggests that both the Flex and its Lincoln MKT cousin could expire after the 2014 model year unless both see a major increase in buyer interest. Both models are due for one more mid-cycle refresh in the next 18 months, but that could be their last as neither model is currently scheduled to continue in their current form beyond 2014.

At the very least, look for Lincoln product planners to combine the attributes of the MKT and the Navigator into a single lineup based heavily on the new, much larger Explorer. Don't look for a rehashed Lincoln Aviator, the short-lived, Explorer-based, mini-Navigator-styled SUV, however. Lincoln will inevitably need to significantly differentiate its next-generation large SUV/crossover away from its Ford sibling.

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