It might seem strange that Lincoln added a vehicle with three-row seating to its line-up when it already offers the Navigator SUV, but Lincoln is undergoing many changes, revamping its cars and image for the 21st century. Thus, the 2010 Lincoln MKT joins the line-up, and would probably completely replace the Navigator if that older SUV didn't still have significant sales.
As a next-generation vehicle for Lincoln, the MKT is a crossover with ample interior space for passengers and cargo. Unlike the Navigator, which has body-on-frame construction, the MKT has a fully independent suspension, giving it a more carlike ride. And though some might mistake it for a minivan, it fights off that classification by using hinged, rather than sliding, side doors, following in the footsteps of the.
Like the Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln aims for luxury with the MKT, fitting the cabin with comfortable and attractive materials while making available a variety of tech features. Rear seat refrigerator? Check. Head rest-mounted rear seat DVD monitors? Check. Panoramic sunroof? Check. Heated and cooled seats? Check.
This next-generation Lincoln certainly makes its mark in style. The wing-shaped grilles, first seen on the MKS sedan, take on ridiculous proportions on the front of the MKT. These large grilles thoroughly ventilate the engine while sucking in sparrows and other small birds. But the rear of the MKT is even more striking, a big slab of back-end cut across by the tail light jewelry, with a minimal rear window evocative of 1940s touring cars. The rear visibility is limited, although a rearview camera prevents it from being unsafe. We just wish the style of the rear went with the rest of the vehicle.
The rear of the MKT evokes an image of 1940s touring cars, but also limits rear visibility.
As the newest vehicle in Lincoln's line-up, the MKT gets Lincoln's latest engine, the Ecoboost twin turbo direct injected 3.5-liter V-6. We saw this engine in theand , demonstrating its versatility.
With an output of 355 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, the Ecoboost engine gets the MKT moving remarkably fast, despite the vehicle's near 5,000 pounds of mass. Stepping on the gas, we reveled in the acceleration. It's the kind of engine that gives you plenty of confidence to make passing maneuvers on two lane highways, or show off to your friends that this big vehicle is much more than a luxury wagon, especially when the engine is making its sonorous growl above 3,000rpm.
The Ecoboost MKT, the top-of-the-model-line, only comes in all-wheel-drive format. Lesser models are available with Lincoln's 3.7-liter Duratec V-6 and can be had in front- or all-wheel-drive. Although we had quite a bit of fun with the Ecoboost engine, the MKT's mileage was a sobering reminder of what happens when you combine big power and mass. The EPA puts the MKT's fuel economy at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. We never saw the trip computer rise above 20 mpg, and turned in a final average of 17.3 mpg. As testament to the Ecoboost engine's technology, the Duratec front-wheel-drive MKT only gets 1 mpg better, and significantly less power.
The optional refrigerator can hold a few bottles of water.
Unlike the lesser models, the Ecoboost model also gets an electric power steering unit, helping the fuel economy a bit. And the six-speed automatic transmission doesn't hurt, either, providing a tall gear to keep the engine rotations low at freeway speeds. Somewhat inappropriate for the big MKT, paddle shifters were mounted to the steering wheel. But then again, those paddles are the only way to select gears when using the transmission's manual mode.
We found the Lincoln MKT particularly comfortable to drive, so much that we didn't want our various journeys to end. It handled well enough for its size, but the big draws were the effort-saving gadgets. Our MKT came equipped with adaptive cruise control, which is still novel enough that we marvel at its capability to match our speed with the car ahead.
The blind spot warning system also provides a little extra confidence when changing lanes, and is extra useful in the MKT considering its high sides. It lights up a warning in the side mirrors when a vehicle is in the lane over, and generally works well. Bright sun behind the car did tend to wash out the warning light, making it difficult to read.
Cruising along at night, we were taken with the ambient lighting around the footwells in the MKT, and were further impressed by the automatic high beams function. With no cars around on a coastal highway, we briefly switched on the high beams, activating this automatic feature. After some traffic passed by us in the opposite direction, the high-beams came on, blasting the road with high intensity discharge light. But as headlights showed up in the distance, or we caught up with traffic going our direction, those headlights quickly snapped back to low beams.
THX designed a high-end audio system for the MKT.
While automatic features are fun, our enjoyment in driving the MKT also came from the THX audio system, which bathed the cabin in a nearly palpable soundscape, as long as we fed it the right sort of music. Its 5.1 channel surround programming handles modern recordings well, expanding audio layers to really immerse you in the music. The audio inspired warm feelings as we enjoyed our little aural cave. But some older recordings, especially when played from a compressed MP3 audio source, didn't take particular advantage of the system. This system could change your musical tastes.
Available on the MKT, but lacking in our car was the new automatic parking system that identifies appropriately sized parallel parking spots, then turns the wheel as you work the gas, brake, and transmission. From our tests of this system in other Lincoln cars, it works very well and would be a welcome addition in the big MKT. An essential feature is the rearview camera, which makes up for the limited rear visibility when driving. This camera has distance lines overlaid on the view, but it doesn't show moving trajectory lines, an advanced feature used by GM, Nissan, and Audi.
Sync still rules
As Lincoln is a Ford brand, the MKT comes standard with Sync, the Microsoft-developed connection technology for MP3 players and cell phones that still stands head and shoulders above the competition. Some automakers, such as Kia and Lexus, are now offering Bluetooth phone systems that let you give the voice command system the name of the person you want to call, similar to Sync. But no other automaker yet lets you use voice command to request music by artist, album, or song name. Although Sync is two years old now, we still get a kick out of saying "play Gorillaz," for example, and having the system understand what we want to hear. It's also practical, as it keeps us from having to look through a list of artists on the car's LCD while cruising along at 70 mph.
Because of this MP3 player integration, and that the navigation system's hard drive can also hold music, the CD/DVD slot in the car is limited to a single disc. You just don't need multiple disc capacity when you can pack hundreds of albums on a portable device that integrates so well with the car.
The stereo also plays music from Bluetooth streaming devices, but we had some conflicts when plugging an iPhone to the car's USB port while it was paired to the Bluetooth system. We don't know whether that's a problem with the car or the iPhone, but it seemed to prioritize Bluetooth streaming, blocking the USB port connection. This conflict is problematic because Bluetooth streaming doesn't offer the same voice command and onscreen interface as the hard-line connection.
Sirius Travel Link shows traffic, weather, gas prices, movie times, and sports scores.
The navigation system also stands out for its Sirius Travel Link feature. This service not only integrates traffic and weather data with the navigation system, something becoming common in other cars, but also adds fuel prices from nearby gas stations, movie schedules, and sports scores. Although we would like to see stock prices added to the in-car data, the fuel price information alone is incredibly useful, and something that no other carmaker incorporates yet.
The navigation system's performance is generally good, and we especially like the traffic jam warnings where the system will find detours. However, its map resolution is a little poor. Companies such asand have gone to the extreme of offering detailed, textured maps with topographical features, but even GM, in the , came up with very readable, bright and clear maps. Lincoln would be wise to upgrade its maps.
One tech feature we didn't expect to see in operation was the collision warning system. Making use of the adaptive cruise control's radar, the system looks at the Lincoln's speed versus any car or big object ahead, flashing a red warning light across the windshield if the Lincoln is closing too fast. This warning lit up for us on city streets, as we came up to a car stopped at a traffic light, and on the freeway in stop-and-go traffic. In each case, we were aware of the situation and in no danger of an actual crash, but a little late at stepping on the brakes. The red lights flashed, a tone sounded, and we mentally noted that yes, the collision warning system works.
With its sheer amount of tech features and comfortable ride, the 2010 Lincoln MKT was a car we enjoyed driving, and is one that we wanted to spend more time in. And as we drive a lot of cars, that's a big testament to the MKT's quality. The engine offered the power to get the car moving quickly, without turbo lag, while the handling was reasonable for its size. Its fuel economy is a problem, though, especially when you put it up against a hybrid like the , pulling in about 30 mpg.
Cabin tech has been a strong point for Ford company cars in the last few years, and the MKT doesn't let us down in this regard. The navigation system's maps look a bit dated, but feature-wise, you would have a hard time finding a car that matches the MKT. Lincoln also has been upping its game with the driver aid technology, filling in a tech gap previously lacking in Ford company vehicles. Aesthetically, the MKT needs a little more cohesiveness from its rear-end design around the sides of the car. But if you need to transport many people in comfort, the MKT fits the bill.
|Model||2010 Lincoln MKT|
|Power train||Twin turbo direct injection 3.5-liter V-6|
|EPA fuel economy||16 mpg city/22 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||17.3 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional hard drive-based with traffic, weather, and other data|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||Single CD/DVD, MP3 compatible|
|MP3 player support||iPod, Zune, many others|
|Other digital audio||USB drive, internal hard drive, Bluetooth streaming, auxiliary input, satellite radio|
|Audio system||THX II 14 speaker 600 watt 5.1 surround sound|
|Driver aids||Rearview camera, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, automatic high beams, automatic parallel parking|
|Price as tested||$57,375|