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2010 Lincoln MKT FWD Review

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2010 Lincoln MKT


2010 Lincoln MKT FWD

And now for something different - the 2010 Lincoln MKT.

"Crossover" is the vehicular category du jour, meaning a cross of SUV room and visibility with car chassis and driving experience. An adaptive radiation is taking place as "in" crossovers replace the now-"out" SUVs in automakers' lineups, sometimes with interesting permutations on the common two-box, five-passenger crossover theme. The MKT is one of the more interesting, as it was meant from the outset to be a real seven-passenger vehicle, with better space efficiency, a smaller footprint, and far better ride and handling and fuel economy characteristics than any old-school super-sized monster SUV. Plus, being a Lincoln, it had to offer all of the luxury features and experiences expected today. A tough act? Indeed. But the MKT succeeds.

Compared to a full-size, three-row luxury SUV like the Lincoln Navigator, the MKT is over a thousand pounds lighter, a couple of inches narrower, over ten inches shorter, but nearly equal in length and wheelbase, at least to the short-wheelbase Navigator. That lighter weight, and a choice of V6 engines -- naturally-aspirated 268-horsepower 3.7-liter or "EcoBoost" direct-injected twin-turbo 355-hp 3.5-liter -- mean an improvement in fuel economy versus the heavy body-on-frame Navigator's 5.4-liter V8. The Navigator wins if towing is a necessity, with up to 9000 pounds compared to the MKT's 3500.

The vehicle in the Lincoln lineup most like the MKT is the five-passenger MKX crossover, and yes, the T, with a seven-inch greater wheelbase and twenty inches more length, is best thought of as the MKX stretch limo. The stretch means that the MKT's third row is not just a penalty box for small children, and second-row passengers also get plenty of room. Even with the third row in use, there is no shortage of luggage capacity.

There is no shortage of power, either, with either of the two V6 engines, both of which are matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 3.7 is offered with front- or all-wheel drive; the EcoBoost engine means AWD only.

Standard equipment level is high, and all of the physical and electronic comforts and conveniences expected in a luxury car are either standard or available. Two different second-row configurations give the option of either six- or seven-passenger seating. Options don't quite include the proverbial kitchen sink, but there is a second-row refrigerator console for six-passenger examples. Options vary by model, with the EcoBoost version having more, including "Active Park Assist" ultrasonic-based self-parking.

My first experience with an MKT was at a press event. With more journalists than vehicles, someone had to ride in the third row, and that someone was me. No problem, at 5-5 I fit into just about anything. But there's enough room back there for larger people, for real distance. And the rearmost position is the best place in a car from which to judge the ride quality. Which was very, very good even on road surfaces that weren't. More recently, I spent a week in the driver's seat of a front-wheel drive, 3.7-liter MKT with the comprehensive "Elite Package" option group. It was a lovely combination of space and grace on the road, with a European-style smooth yet firm ride for comfort and responsive handling, plenty of power, and copious luxury. It's big inside, but not bulky, and easily maneuverable in parking lots. Harbor pilot's license not required. After years of near-invisibility, Lincoln is making a strong comeback. The 2010 MKT is a fine example of the reason for that.

APPEARANCE: With its toothy "split wing" waterfall grille with integrated headlamps, central hood crease, chamfered shoulder line, and full-width taillights, the MKT could only be a new Lincoln. It has presence, not from massive height or width, but from length. In direct front or rear view, it proportions are standard crossover. From the side, crossover stretch limo, and the fender hump over each rear wheel adds interest. Judicious use of chrome trim gives an understated luxury look, and details like a single piece of trim behind each C pillar show a good attention to detail.

COMFORT: There is no need to feel crowded inside the MKT. Access is helped by courtesy lights in the outside mirrors. With electronic fob in pocket, a press of the external keypad will unlock the car. My test car had the standard seven-passenger seating arrangement, with two front buckets, a second-row 60/40 split bench with power fold and flip motion for the right section to allow easy access to the 50/50 split folding third row. First and second rows are leather, heated and cooled in front and heated for the outside second positions. Both the pedals and steering wheel are power-adjustable (steering for both tilt and reach), so all drivers can find the perfect seating position, safely away from the airbag. A leather-and-wood steering wheel rim and leather shift knob add tactile pleasure. Interior design is contemporary, with instruments and controls placed for visibility and ease of use. Trim separating the upper and lower sections of the dash and doors is genuine wood. The climate control system and seat heaters work well, and quickly. The navigation system interface is simple; recourse to the manual shouldn't be necessary. Ambient lighting includes the front cupholders and second-row assist handles, good attention to detail. A minijack and USB interface for external audio players, and a power point can be found in the center console. The second row offers first-class accommodation, especially for the outer positions, and a low central tunnel improves middle position comfort. There is some seatback angle adjustment for comfort. With the third row in passenger position, a deep well behind (into which the third row halves fold) prevents groceries from lodging in difficult places. Everyone gets a great view of the sky with the double-pane Vista Roof. The remotely-operable liftgate is made largely of magnesium and aluminum alloys for weight reduction.

SAFETY: The 2010 Lincoln MKT is designed and built to maximize both passive and active safety. Its unibody construction surrounds passengers with a strong protective structure. Ford's Personal Safety System™ combines sensors and technologies to tailor airbag and seatbelt response to individual passenger and incident circumstances. Collision Warning With Brake Support, available with the optional Adaptive Cruise Control system, warns the driver of possible incidents and pre-charges the brakes. The BLIS radar-based blind-spot and cross-traffic detection is one of the best new electronic safety features on the market.

RIDE AND HANDLING: If you're expecting a soft, nautical ride in the MKT, you'll be disappointed. That's not bad, at all. Because of careful attention to detail in tuning the MKT's MacPherson strut/multilink suspension and the long wheelbase, ride quality is best described as "European luxury", compliant and comfortable with no jarring, yet with minimal body roll when cornering. This is not a Navigator old old Town Car - the MKT is a luxury crossover that is quite pleasant, even fun, to drive. Good four-wheel vented disc brakes with antilock and the AdvanceTrac® with RSC™stability management system ensure quick stops and control in difficult situations. Despite the long wheelbase, the turning circle is relatively tight so parking lot maneuverability is not an issue.

PERFORMANCE: The standard 3.7-liter V6 is far more than merely adequate. Reading the specs -- 268 horsepower at 6250 rpm, 267 lb-ft of torque at 4250 -- it may appear that useful power is in the midrange and higher. True, but there is also plenty right from idle, meaning that in normal driving, the aluminum alloy, twin cam, 24-valve engine doesn't have to work too hard. Nor, thanks to the six-speed automatic transmission, does it have to rev very high, keeping its thirst in check. The engine and transmission work commendably well. EPA mileage is 17/23; I got 19 during the week, with minimal highway travel. And when power is needed, it's there - the MKT is surprisingly quick for a 4700-pound crossover, and light on its feet.

CONCLUSIONS: The new Lincoln MKT makes a fine family luxury stretch limo.

2010 Lincoln MKT FWD

Base Price			$ 44,200
Price As Tested			$ 48,995
Engine Type			aluminum alloy dohc 24-valve V6 with
				 variable intake cam phasing
Engine Size			3.7 liters / 227 cu. in.
Horsepower			268 @ 6250 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			267 @ 4250 rpm
Transmission			6-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length		117.9 in. / 207.6 in.
Curb Weight			4680 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		17.5
Fuel Capacity			18.6 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires				P235/55R19 101H Hankook Optima H725
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc all around, ABS,
				 AdvanceTrac® with RSC™ standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  independent multilink
Drivetrain			transverse front engine,
				 front-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		17 / 23 / 19
0 to 60 mph				7.2  sec (est)

Rapid Spec 102A-FWD: includes:
  Voice-activated navigation system with in-dash display,
  single DVD/CD/MP3CD player and DVD audio and
  video capability, internal hard disk for map data storage,
  integrated SIRIUS® Travel Link and THX® II certified
  surround sound audio system, BLIS with Cross Traffic
  Alert, Power Panoramic Vista Roof™			$ 4,000
Destination and delivery				$   795