If a new MKT comes up behind you in traffic, there will be no question as to what it is; its "flying wing" grille will fill your rearview mirror. This design element now leads off the modern Lincoln lineup, save for the MKX (that facelift is about a year away) and Navigator. The latest model to receive the retro styling treatment is the MKT, a six- or seven-passenger crossover-utility vehicle that Lincoln calls its new flagship.
And despite this vehicle's size, one thing the MKT doesn't need behind its 1941 Continental-like grille is an eight-cylinder engine. Turbocharging, direct injection, and the high compression that goes with it replace two cylinders in Ford Motor Company's coming line of EcoBoost engines. The first of this new family, a 355-horsepower, 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, is just the ticket to making a big, post-SUV prairie schooner like the MKT quick and efficient. Base engine is a 270-horse, 3.7-liter Duratec V-6, also standard in the 2010 MKS. Lincoln certified both engine choices on premium unleaded, though you can run either on regular without affecting the warranty. Lincoln rates the Duratec on regular at 268 horsepower. It doesn't list a regular-fuel horsepower rating for the EcoBoost. The MKT can tow up to 4500 pounds.
In the MKT, the Duratec is available with FWD or fully automatic AWD. The MKT with EcoBoost comes with AWD only. A six-speed automatic with steering column controls is standard across the board, but if you want to toggle through the gears yourself, things get a little confusing. A six-speed automatic with a paddle attached to the steering wheel uses the paddle for upshifts, thumb control for downshifts. This can be problematic at times, especially in the middle of a turn, with the controls out of place. Most owners will let the tranny shift itself, except when crossing mountain ranges.
Like General Motors with its Lambda-based large crossovers--soon to be reduced to Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave (and the next-generation Cadillac Escalade will probably move to that platform to compete directly with the MKT)--this new Lincoln and the Ford Flex share underpinnings but no sheetmetal. While we find the boxy, upright Flex a refreshing crossover take on the modern wagon, it has been far from a sales success compared with competitors like the Traverse. The curvy, flowing MKT won't have any problems with the creased-sheetmetal averse, though comments we've received reveal a fairly even split among the love it versus hate it camps.
The Lincoln further distinguishes itself with an all-glass roof, adding weight and a kind of two-tone look. The Panoramic Vista Roof is fixed in standard form. A power sunroof is optional. The "premium innovations" list reads like a Mercedes or Lexus spec sheet, as recited by Bill Gates. EcoBoost-powered MKTs come with electric power steering, which in turn allows for the Active Parking Assist option, Lincoln's more successful take on the Lexus LS automatic-parking-for-dolts option. Lincoln says that, unlike competitors' systems, it works when parking uphill.
There's also adaptive cruise control, intelligent access with push-button start, adaptive headlamps and standard high-intensity discharge lamps, automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert, a reverse camera and, of course, standard Sync.