Take the Australian Ford Falcon/Fairmont, with it's petrol I-6 and V-8 engines, fully independant suspension, rear wheel drive and handsome styling. Bring the design to North America, add the 2.7L Diesel V-6 into the options sheet, use the longer wheelbase Fairmont as a new Lincoln, and the shorter Falcon as a new Mercury. The higher prices these brands could sell for, and the uniquness from other North American Fords would solve the problems.
Ford would have a medium volume rear wheel drive offering, with varying powertrain options, that could compete with eveything from the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger right up to Mercedes and BMW. The I-6 would be limited to the Mercury brand, and the Diesel would be optional to both. The top of the line V-8 could be a Supercharged 5.4L V-8, while the base V-8 in Lincolns and optional in Mercury could be the Mustang's 4.6L V-8 with 300 hp. Make all of the engines BioFuel capable, either E-85/Ethanol or Bio Diesel. Six or seven speed Automatic transmission, or even a CVT would be standard, with a manual considered only for an SVT version of the Mercury. Traction and stability control should be standard on Mercury and Lincoln.
If volume is needed, give Ford a decontented version, with styling from the 427/Fusion, and offer only the V-8 from the Mustang or a V-6 from the Mustang/Ranger. Keep the Mercury differentiated from the Lincoln and Ford, with it's exclusive offering of the I6 and styling that does not too closely mimic either sibling, while still being interesting.
The Lincoln version should have styling from the Continental concept and even offer the rear suicide doors, maybe even a 4 door convertible, outsourced to ASC, like their Helios concept based on the Chrysler 300 and pay homage to the 60's Lincoln.
As for any "Ute" version, that should be only a Mercury, not a Lincoln or Ford. Ford division is top heavy with trucks, and may introduce more, but not this one. Lincoln, already has the Mark X, Mark LT and Navigator, they don't need another pickup. Besides, the exclusive Mercury Ute will give that brand a lift in image. There should be no stripped version, just performance oriented highly optioned versions. Give it a real name, one from Mercury's past like Turnpike Cruiser or Marauder X100, the later possibly tying in with a sedan performance version. Don't make it a western or cowboy name.
If things work with Mercury, bring the Territory over as a Mercury exclusive, include a Hybrid version of the crossover, but not the sedan or ute. Maybe a turbo I6, but only a 4.6 V-8 in this one, no 5.4 in the Territory. Re-use the Mountaineer name on this, killing the Explorer twin, and negating the need for a crossover version of the FreeStyle or Edge.
Sounds like a pipe dream huh? Well, I'll keep on dreaming until Ford starts building interesting.