Lincoln is betting that the best way for its new entry to keep up with traffic in the crowded Crossover Utility Vehicle segment is to do just that — keep up with traffic.
Power is the most obvious benefit of the EcoBoost engine, available in the 2011 Lincoln MKT. The standard motor in the new Lincoln crossover is Ford Motor Company’s 268-horsepower, 3.7-liter Duratec V-6. Available optionally is a 3.5 liter EcoBoost V-6.
The twin-turbocharged, all-aluminum, Direct Injection motor is rated at 355 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. Not surprisingly, the 2011 Lincoln MKT is quick off the line achieving 0-t0-60 mph in about 7 seconds, cruising smoothly at highway speeds.
Lincoln packages the EcoBoost engine in all-wheel-drive with the EPA-estimated fuel economy at 16 miles per gallon city, 21 highway. Clearly, these aren’t economy car levels. But, the mileage numbers compare favorably with the Lincoln’s competition in the three-row, crossover/SUV segment. More importantly, the EcoBoost engine generates 87 more horsepower than the Duratec, while returning virtually the same gas mileage — an impressive feat.
Luxury crossover drivers of a Lincoln aren’t likely to venture off-road.
In this segment, the rubber hits the road in winter driving. Snow Belt residents are the ones who are most likely to reap the benefits of AWD. Under normal conditions, Lincoln’s AWD system channels about 70 percent of the power to the front axle and 30 percent to the rear. When road conditions deteriorate, the system automatically shifts power fore and aft as needed, to help maintain traction.
The 2011 MKT, with a base staring price of just over $44,000, has a low ride height for a large crossover. This, and the MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear suspension, contributes to a very stable feel. Ride quality remains smooth, even on a choppy surface. The 4,899-pound MKT AWD can be equipped to a tow a maximum of 4,500 pounds.
The 2011 Lincoln MKT has three-row seating. Rows one and two have ample room for adults. Row two can be had with bench or available bucket seats ($995). Limited head and leg room in the third row makes it suitable for kids, and the seats fold easily to a flat load floor when not needed.
Lincoln is a luxury marquee, so even the “base” MKT is well appointed.
However, when it comes to vehicle in this class, more is always better, and my test vehicle had a host of available extras for buyers to choose from. The $4,000 Elite package bundles a voice-activated navigation system, 14-speaker surround sound system with satellite radio, acoustic side glass, premium leather seats and a power, panoramic vista roof. The moon roof is notable for being both large and free of wind buffeting.
The Elite package picks up two new items for 2011, at no additional charge. The sound system adds HD radio capability for 2011. Also included is Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with cross traffic alert. That’s important, because MKT has the three-quarter rear blind spots typical of large Utility Vehicles. BLIS technology lends a hand, alerting the driver (via warning light on the outside rearview mirrors), when a vehicle enters the driver’s blind spot on either side. In addition, the Reverse Camera System projects a video image of what’s behind you when backing up.
Other choices on the option list include adaptive cruise control ($1,295), a refrigerated rear console (rear bucket seat models only, $895) and Active Park assist ($595). As offered in the Ford Flex, the last feature does the heavy lifting in the parallel parking process, leaving the driver to assist and oversee. This is arguably the least fussy and most accurate of all the auto-park systems that I’ve seen to date.
The hot spot of the old SUV market is now crossovers. MKT is the newest and one of the largest in this segment. By nature of its sheer size and Lincoln bloodlines, it aims more for luxury than it does for sport — and it hits the target. Distinctively styled, the Lincoln MKT is comfortable, refined and — particularly in EcoBoost AWD trim — a polished, four season performer. — Dan Lyons, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010