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MKT spells out true value and best-in-class performance


By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Listen up, ladies – this new 3-row crossover vehicle is targeted toward us, or the "optimistic, drive and self-made" woman whose luxuries come from hard work. At least such that's how the marketing presentation goes for this all-new Lincoln ride, offering some of the best (and exclusive) standards for this 7-passenger techie dream ride.

I drove your basic to your more decked out MKT vehicles at a 2-day Ford ride-and-drive media event. The MKT is mainly divided by engines: The MKT with the regular V6 and full-wheel drive is $44,995 (all-wheel drive is $46,990); an MKT with the V6 EcoBoost engine is available in all-wheel drive only at $49,995. All MKT standards include: Reverse Camera System; fixed glass roof; adaptive high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps; 19-inch wheels; genuine wood interior trim; 12-way driver and passenger heated leather bucket seats with lumbar; touch-screen audio and climate controls; and Lincoln SYNC or voice-activated entertainment system.

There are numerous packages to add distinct style to your MKT, like the big $4,000 Elite (moving glass roof, Blind Spot System, navigation) or a $1,995 DVD package; and lots of smaller ones too such an $895 second-row fridge.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The second-row features offer a "first-class or first-row experience" with available heated or cooled power-assisted lumbar seats offering two different seating configurations (bench or no bench seat) that fold and tumble back. Also available is a dual headrest Family Entertainment System with twin seven-inch DVD playback for individual or simultaneous programming. The available Navigation Package includes a 14-speaker THX II Certified 5.1 Surround Audio System –George Lucas's audio system. Every MKT trim comes with a fixed glass vista sunroof (optional for one that opens). The liftgate has been constructed with a light magnesium and aluminum material to create a slimmer end for more third-row headspace. Although seat-wise more comfortable than most, ultimately this area was a hair too small for taller people like myself and I ended up slouching.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Virtually all safety features are standard: Active Park Assist and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS); Keyless entry; LATCH; and Reverse Camera System; Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS); Safety Canopy; Belt-Minder; SOS Post-Crash Alert System; and Personal Safety System. Only the Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning and Brake Support ($1,295) costs extra. Many of these safety systems are Ford creations or industry-first safety features.

Cost Issues: It's not an easy price to swallow with an average cost nearing $50k when options are added to base – but neither is an an Acura MDX for $48,890, one of Lincoln's self-appointed main competitors. A similar equipped Lexus RX 400h costs $49,615.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Lincoln MKT offers two engine choices: the 268-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine that delivers 267 ft-lb of torque at 4,250 rpm with a fuel economy of 17-city/23-highway; or the new twin-turbocharged 355-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoostV6 engine featuring 350 ft-lb of torque from 1,500 through 5,250 rpm and garnering 16-mpg city and 22-mpg highway. One of the best features about the MKT performance is extremely quite motoring. It has excellent handling characteristics, which were fully put to test on the Santa Cruz Mountains and Highway 1. Another is the Active Park Assist. Ford takes this idea of step farther than Toyota/Lexus by actually allowing the MKT to select an appropriately sized parking space. Using an ultrasonic-based sensing system as opposed to video camera, the system detects and calculates nearby objects and then steers the Lincoln MKT into the space while the driver is coached through throttle and brake use.

The Green Concern: The Acura MDX with its 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 engine and AWD gets you 15-mpg city and 20-mpg highway driving. The MKT's 355-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoostV6 engine gets 16-mpg city and 22-mpg highway and is greener choice because it uses a simpler formula combining gasoline direct injection with twin turbochargers with a smaller-displacement engine.

Ford took the economic collapsed to heart and came out with a vehicle that really does spell out true value and best-in-class performance. The clincher is a second row that feels like first-class treatment and ahead or the curve technology and the fact the price lines up with the competition.

2009 Katrina Ramser