With the introduction of the Ford-Flex based 2010 Lincoln MKT, we're starting to believe all that stuff about FoMoCo's commitment to the Lincoln brand. There isn't a single significant visible part shared with its platformmate, though most of what you don't see is the same. Overall dimensions are within a whisker, except for height, which is 1.7 in. lower. That lower roof and stylishly raked bustle-back hatch limit third-row headroom to kid-size and give the MKT slightly more station-wagon proportioning.
The waterfall grille cements the family resemblance with the MKS and restyled 2010 MKZ in front, and we're told to expect the cross-car taillamp design (with distinctive light pipes like those on the MKX) to become a new Lincoln trademark. A fixed panoramic glass roof will be standard, with a sliding one optional.
Power comes from a 3.7L V-6 producing 267 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque (down slightly from the 273/270 it produces in Mazda's CX-9, thanks partly to Lincolnizing of the exhaust note). An EcoBoost turbo V-6 making 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque will follow driving all four wheels (base MKTs get front drive). Both engines mate to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
The ride-tuning design brief was "rolling plushness," so expect softer-than-Flex spring and damper rates. Standard wheels are 19-inchers, with 20s optional (standard unique 20s will come with the EcoBoost option). Leadfoots will want to wait for the EcoBoost engine, because even with weight-saving measures like using cast magnesium for the radiator support and tailgate inner panel, a loaded MKT is expected to weigh 2.5 tons.
Upscale features include adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation (warns driver of impending accident, primes brakes, delivers full brake-assist power when driver brakes), blind-spot indication with cross-traffic alert, "neural THX surround sound" that upconverts compressed media like MP3s for improved sound quality, adaptive headlamps, and active park assist. This system locates a parallel parking spot and then handles the steering and shifting while coaching the driver on brake/throttle use. We're promised it's way easier and faster to use than the Lexus system, and it will only be available with the EcoBoost option, as that model gets electric power steering.
Sybaritic interior touches include real wood trim on all four doors and across the dash, luxurious stitched leather-look material on the dash and door uppers (it's more durable and sun-resistant than real leather), one-touch fold-and-flip middle-row seats for easy third-row access, optional heated and cooled second-row bucket seats with electric lumbar adjustment, and a rear-seat entertainment system option with monitors in the front-seat headrests. And we're told the MKT is even quieter riding than the already impressive Flex, thanks to additional aero tuning of the side mirrors and sound deadening in the ductwork to quiet blower noise.