Twin turbochargers, direct injection and the high compression that goes with it replace two cylinders in Ford Motor Company's new engine philosophy. It's called EcoBoost, and in the 2010 Lincoln MKT, it's good enough to compete with (literal) giants like the V-8 Audi Q7 4.2, an example of which Ford thoughtfully provided for its new luxury crossover's debut.
The big news is this engine. It's the first EcoBoost to go public. The 3.5 EcoBoost is rated 355 horsepower at 5700 rpm on premium (Lincoln gives no regular-fuel rating, though it considers the crossover's ability to run on regular a selling point), and 350 pound-feet of torque from 1,500 to 5,250 rpm. (The standard 3.7-liter Duratec from the MKS sedan is rated 270 horsepower on premium, 268 on regular.)
The EcoBoost's numbers tops the Audi 4.2's 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet, and the MKT is about 800 pounds lighter and is less upright. The while the MKT shares its platform with the boxy Ford Flex, its sheetmetal is curvy and looks fairly aerodynamic, and with its all-glass roof, looks as much like a tall wagon as a crossover utility vehicle. While the all-wheel-drive Q7 4.2 is rated 13/18 miles per gallon EPA, Lincoln expects 17/24 from its EcoBoost MKT (AWD will be standard with that engine, to avoid torque steer).
And the big Lincoln feels more spritely than the big Audi, particularly in 40-60 mph passing maneuvers. From a standstill, the Lincoln's acceleration is soft at tip-in, as the twin-turbos feed each bank of cylinders and need a few hundred rpm over idle to build boost. Once you hit 1500 rpm, it's off and away, smoothly and in a linear fashion. Lincoln expects a 7-second 0-60 mph time (about 8.6 for the 3.7 Duratec). It feels quick and composed to 120 mph and beyond (the drive was at Ford's Romeo Proving Grounds).
Second-biggest news is the interior, which trumps the Audi for cushy luxury. The wrapped and stitched dash is soft and cushy where the Q7's is hard, though high-quality plastic. And the fit-and-finish, even for pre-production MKTs, was quite good.
And like everything else that's new in the Ford and Lincoln lineups, the MKT is almost overloaded with standard and optional features. While the Panoramic Vista Roof is standard, a sunroof version, with power front and rear sunshades, is optional. Like the Flex, the MKT will come in six- or seven-passenger variations, including a six-passenger model with the center console refrigerator and heated, cooled and power lumbar support second-row seats.
An optional dual headrest entertainment system has twin seven-inch DVD screens. There's Active Park Assist, rain-sensing wipers, Blind Spot Information System, reverse camera ... you get the idea.