Lincoln MKT — A winner with conditional love

By Al Vinikour 

Last week I drove to Chicago to attend the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s Fall Rally and I was able to put a lot of miles on the 2010 Lincoln MKT. I can’t think of driving a better-riding, luxury-laden and quiet vehicle for over five hours and putting on almost 350 miles than this all-new addition to the Lincoln stable.

Were this full-size luxury crossover more affordable the highways would be flooded with MKT’s used as transportation for traveling salesmen. Truth be told, if you want an inexpensive vehicle they’re out there…but don’t come complaining to me when your back and its colleague – your rear-end – deteriorate over time. Or better yet…work hard and sell more and then you can afford to be in an MKT and won’t face these problems.

The Lincoln MKT is built off the Ford Flex platform in Ford’s Oakville, Ontario, Canada plant, but there the similarity ends. I like the Flex but don’t like its looks — especially its billboard-sized sides. My very smart and knows everything editor takes exception with that assessment of the Flex — he calls it “sophisticated.” It’s my story so suck it up!

However, I think the side profile is the aesthetic strong suit of the MKT. It’s a beautiful design — one I could stare at all day. By doing that I also wouldn’t have to walk around to the front and have that horrendous big-toothed grille smiling at me. I know, I know…some people like the signature look of the Lincoln grille. I ain’t one of them, Basil. (Same with Lincoln’s MKS; I absolutely love the looks of this car…as long as I don’t have to view it from the front.) The good news is this: I’m driving it so I don’t have to see it coming at me.

You can buy a 2010 MKT with a 3.7L Duratec DOHC 24-valve V-6…but I don’t want to waste time talking about that engine. My test vehicle had Ford’s all-new EcoBoost V-6. This is the third 2010 Ford-built vehicle I’ve recently driven with the EcoBoost V-6 and because I became a believer on the first day I ever drove one, having an EcoBoost hat trick has been a treat. It’s a twin-turbocharged engine that produces 355 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque while retaining an EPA rating of 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway with standard Intelligent AWD. EcoBoost gives the power of a large V-8 but theoretically gives the fuel economy of a smaller V-6. All EcoBoost engines are coupled to a six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission with Paddle Shift Activation. Ford claims EcoBoost gives up to 22-percent more performance.

Through a combination of city driving and a bunch of freeway miles I averaged about 19 miles per gallon.  This number doesn’t exactly set the world on fire but considering the technology built in to EcoBoost, the weight of the MKT, its smooth ride and how many fewer miles per gallon one would get with a 355-horsepower V-8, it wasn’t all that bad.

My MKT was equipped with the optional Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Avoidance. I love cruise control…but have always hated Adaptive Cruise Control. I understand its safety aspect but I don’t like being in a fast lane, only to have somebody pull in front of me, experience my vehicle quickly slowing down, and then, when the inconsiderate so-and-so who triggered this function pulls back to the slower lane, it seems to take forever to get back up to speed. Meantime, I’ve got people behind me calling me names I can’t hear because now I’m the slow one. I’d rather take the $1,295 it costs and buy the house a round of deviled eggs.

When properly equipped, MKT has a Class III towing capacity of 4,500 pounds. Available as a free-standing option for $595, the Trailer Tow Package consists of a receiver hitch, wiring harness with 4/7 pin connectors, engine oil cooler, tire mobility kit and trailer sway control. As I’ve often said, I get seasick pouring a glass of water, but I’ve tested this technology at various Ford-products press events and from what I’ve experienced, it’s a lifesaver…not only for the occupants but for those vehicles within its proximity. Trailer sway at high speeds — when uncontrolled — can kill. But with Trailer Sway Control this danger is all but eliminated. And it requires no hardware to be added or adapted to the trailer.

My vehicle came equipped with Active Park Assist  — probably the best $595 you’ll ever spend on an option. This system will make you a parallel-parking Chuck Yeager…and once you put it in reverse your job is done. Sit back and enjoy the ride because APA does the rest for you. It is unbelievable! At the touch of a button, MKT will be parked 2” from the curb. It uses ultrasonic sensors and will park the vehicle in a minimum slot 1.2 times the vehicle length. I met my “young children” (ages 40 and 35) for lunch and wanted to demonstrate the Parking Assist program but the weather was so rainy and windy they just took my word for it.

MKT’s interior is nice and roomy with front-seat leg room of 41.3-inches second-row legroom of 41.8-inches and third row of 33.0-inches. Total passenger volume is 141.9 cubic feet and total interior volume is 159.8 cubic feet. I think I’ve lived in smaller towns. Total cargo capacity is 75.9 cubic feet. The second and third row seats lay perfectly flat
The instrument cluster is very handsome and clean, with large gauges and white background lighting. The center stack is equally functional and depending on what you’re loading it up with, extremely user-friendly. My vehicle came with the standard voice-activated Navigation System with Reverse Camera that includes an in-dash screen and single-DVD/CD/MP3 player, DVD-audio/DVD video capability, internal hard drive and SIRIUS Travel Link (six months programming included). For a guy like me who normally listens to talk radio the Sony Branded Premium Audio System with 12 speakers in 10 locations has made me actually want to listen to music. It’s like being inside a concert hall. My vehicle had the Panoramic Vista roof that has an opening above the front seat and above the second row. Normally I’m not a big fan of “moon” or “sun” roofs but the fact this has a two-stage cover that can block the outside (and thus the sun on a 145-degree day) made it okay.

My MKT had the standard 20-inch polished aluminum wheels and P255/45R20 A/S BSW tires. Safety technology and equipment is plentiful. For instance, my vehicle had one of my favorite safety devices ever – Blind Spot Information System (BLIS). I trust this system more than I do my own eyes looking over my shoulder. MKT has a five star driver/passenger frontal crash rating, the same for side crash rating and four-star rollover rating.

Lincoln has a bevy of gorgeous exterior colors. My MKT’s color was Tuxedo Black Clearcoat Metallic. When the sun hits it you can discern (it’s a Lincoln we’re talking about after all…if it were a Ford I’d say “pick out”) flecks of red, green, blue, purple and a few other colors I can’t remember.

Base price of the MKT EcoBoost is $49,995 including destination and delivery. There are so many things about MKT I don’t have the space to cover. However, but if you’re the least bit interested you’ll do yourself a huge favor by going to  HYPERLINK "" and click on the Lincoln link. As eloquent as I think I am, the website is written by true professionals and can answer any questions you may have in recognizable English — not the Hoosier dialect I speak.


Base price: $49,795; as driven, $57,795 est.

Engine:  3.5L EcoBoost V-6

Horsepower: 355 @ 5,500 rpm 

Torque: 350 pound-feet @ 3,500 rpm
Drive: Intelligent AWD 

Transmission:  Electronic 6-speed
Seating: 2/3/3

Wheelbase:  117.9 inches

Length: 207.6 inches

Curb weight: 4,924 pounds

Turning circle: 40.7 feet

Cargo capacity: 75.9 cubic feet

Fuel capacity: 18.6 gallons (91-Octane premium recommended)

EPA rating: 22 mpg highway, 16 mpg city

0-60: 7 seconds (est.) 

Also consider: Audi Q7, Acura MDX

The Good:

• Awesome power and technology
• Great-looking profile
• Extremely quiet on the highway
• Optional Active Park Assist

The Bad:

• Fuel economy seems to stay the same no matter what the speed or highway type
• Drives like the big vehicle it is

The Ugly:

• Lincoln signature “Orthodontist’s dream” grille
• Although not really “coyote ugly,” the rear face looks like a stylistic Berlin Wall