2010 Lincoln MKT

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word polarize as “to break into opposing factions or groupings.” The design team at Ford’s Lincoln brand must have had this term deep in their psyches when they penned the MKT full-size crossover because the modern, yet classic reinterpretation of Lincoln’s iconic past won’t leave anyone indifferent.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word polarize as “to break into opposing factions or groupings.” The design team at Ford’s Lincoln brand must have had this term deep in their psyches when they penned the MKT full-size crossover because the modern, yet classic reinterpretation of Lincoln’s iconic past won’t leave anyone indifferent. For starters, there’s the split-winged grille, which is supposed to be reminiscent of the late-1930s era Zephyr and Continental, whose overabundance of chrome could have been tuned back a bit. The side profile is more alluring thanks to the crisp beltline that flows from the top of the headlamp and makes a quick upsweep at the trailing edge of the rear door. Then there’s the MKT’s massive rear end, which looks like it would be more at home on an ocean liner than a car. Taken separately, any one of these design features may have worked in one way or another, but together they manage to provoke many negative reactions: “A little overdone, don’t you think,” one onlooker said, with a certain amount of understatement.

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Like many of the onlookers, I think the MKT’s design is more than a little garish. The front end looks like a rapper who has spent too much on orthodontia and the rear looks like that of someone who has spent too much time on the couch watching soaps while pounding down Cheet-Os. That’s too bad because looks aside, the MKT is a capable, comfortable full-size crossover. The cockpit is neatly appointed and, unlike the front grille, not a study in wretched excess. Unlike many of its luxury competitors, the MKT doesn’t overload the center console with switches and knobs. No, the layout is simple and straight-forward. The grades of materials used are a step above what one might expect from Lincoln, but they’re not up to the bar set by the likes of Lexus or Audi. Still, the seats were comfortable, the cabin roomy and the jewel-like appearance of the gauge cluster was a nice touch.

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A vehicle the size of the MKT—207.6 in. long, weighing in at 4,680 lb., which is 6- in. longer and more than 200-lb. heavier than the Ford Flex up which it is based-- may not seem like it would be a nimble mode of transport. I will admit that when I first slid into the driver’s seat, I looked around and thought, “Man this thing is big.” Funny thing is, it doesn’t drive big. Credit should go to the engineering team that developed the MKT’s rear suspension system and its one-for-one shock absorber ratio which provide a smooth, yet spirited ride. Admittedly, there’s little likelihood an MKT driver is going to be too aggressive when turning into a bend in the road, but it’s surprising how capable this vehicle can handle being pushed a little.

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What was most important about the MKT I tested is what is under the hood: Ford’s much ballyhooed EcoBoost twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6. This being my first opportunity to spend some significant time with EcoBoost, I wanted to see just how capable it really is. Well, let me tell you this: it can move this 4,800-plus lb. machine along like nobody’s business. The 355 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque are delivered to the wheels with no apparent delay—those of you who have concerns about turbo lag need to get out of the 20th century. Ford has been going on and on for what seems like years about the virtues of turbocharging and downsizing, and I can tell you they weren’t over promising and that they have truly delivered. They point to the dual benefits of higher power and lower fuel consumption—the EPA says the MKT with EcoBoost and all-wheel-drive can achieve up to 22 mpg on the highway. But all of that power comes at a steep price premium of nearly $3,200 over the non-turbo 3.7-liter V6 with all-wheel-drive. Not to mention the fact that the MKT requires the use of premium gasoline to get those horsepower and torque numbers, meaning you’ll have to pay extra every time you visit the gas station. That’s a lot of green for a technology that’s supposed to be green and for a vehicle that’s likely to cause attention for all the wrong reasons.

Selected specs as Driven

Engine: 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost; DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder

Material: Aluminum block and heads

Horsepower: 355 @ 5,700 rpm

Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 1,500 to 5,250 rpm

Length: 207.6 in.

Wheelbase: 117.9 in.

Width: 79.9 in. (without mirrors)

Height: 67.4 in.

EPA fuel economy: 16 city/22 mpg highway