Exclusivity is an essential trait in the luxury vehicle market, one that's exceptionally hard to achieve. In its ongoing effort to give its offerings a stronger presence in this profitable game, Lincoln plans to offer its customers a new premium audio system that's unavailable elsewhere in the automotive realm.

In a Detroit briefing, Lincoln division executives announced an exclusive arrangement with Revel to supply high end audio systems for the 2016 MKX crossover SUV. Not be confused with Revell, the company known for car, boat, airplane, and other model kits, Revel is a premium division of Harman International, and has been competing in the home audio market since 1996.

The Lincoln MKX marks Revel's first foray into the automotive market, and begins a 10-year exclusive agreement between Ford's luxury division and Harman International. Each redesigned Lincoln that rolls into showrooms will include the option of a Revel system, while top-of-the-line Black Series trims will have the 19-speaker Revel Ultima setup as standard equipment.

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Closed Door Development

While the 10-year exclusive clock began ticking with the announcement of the agreement between Lincoln and Harman International, the relationship predates official acknowledgement. An executive present for the Detroit program said Revel's involvement with the new MKX goes back three years, to the early design stages.

The collaboration between Lincoln interior designers and Revel acoustic engineers entailed numerous debates, according to the Harman, leading to a number of compromises on interior elements, speaker location, and speaker design.

While the Detroit program provided only an opportunity to listen to the Revel system in a static environment, i.e., a parked vehicle inside a building (as distinct from outside and moving in traffic), its performance seems impressive, particularly in the Ultima version. The system offers three operating modes-Traditional Stereo, Audience, and On Stage, the latter taking surround sound delivery to its peak.

Will the Revel system be competitive with high end audiophile offerings from the likes of Burmester or Bang & Olufsen? That remains to be seen, as does pricing. Similarly, details concerning the new 2016 Lincoln MKX, other than the previously released concept image shown here, remain under wraps until the new model is unveiled at January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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