By George Polgar

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After years of losing traction to European and Japanese luxury carmakers and its perennial US rival Cadillac, the resurgence of Ford’s premium Lincoln brand is in high gear.

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Last, month Lincoln sales were up 19.6 percent, the best April stats since 2008.

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With the momentum of the small SUV segment, the fresh new MKC crossover is a big mover. Based on the popular Ford Escape, the MKC trades on a sleek exterior and posh futuristic interior design. Asian-oriented design cues that turned up in the recently previewed Continental full-sized sedan concept, are also evident in the MKC and MKZ sedan, suggesting that Lincoln is looking beyond America, banking on sales expansion in China.

Last year Lincoln sold 94,000 vehicles in China, trailing Cadillac which posted sales there of 170,000.

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The big Navigator SUV also set a brisk pace for the Lincoln brand with a 36.4 percent year-over-year increase. In the last decade, up against the Cadillac Escalade, the Navigator faltered with too many negatives from the driver and ownership perspective. The latest $68,000 Lincoln Navigator sports a cleaner design and vastly improved road manners.