One glance at the huge, toothy shark smile on the grille of the all-new 2010 Lincoln MKT tells you Lincoln wants your attention. And no wonder; this sporty, crisp-handling new crossover SUV is worth a second look. For many families these days, clunky truck-based sport utilities are being recognized for what they are: clunky trucks. By contrast, sleekly styled crossovers like the Lincoln MKT, with car-like amenities and agile, well-balanced performance, beckon to more and more buyers.
In that context, the impressive new Lincoln MKT is a star at first glance. With its distinctive, slightly hunchback lines behind the rear door, it will be instantly recognizable in the traffic flow. Powered by a 3.7-liter V6 or the stellar new 355-hp twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, and enhanced with all-wheel drive, the Lincoln MKT boasts the forceful performance and athleticism of all but the hottest performance sedans.
Of course, anyone can put a powerful engine in an SUV and achieve good acceleration, while guzzling too much gas. But the new EcoBoost engine achieves decent EPA City/Highway ratings of 16/22 mpg, while providing full-size, three-row seating and a full list of amenities.
Where the Lincoln MKT leaves the competition behind, however, is in its over-the-road dynamics. We drove the twisting, hurtling New York State backcountry for a day, and the Lincoln MKT proved itself completely at home on what would otherwise have been called sports car roads. Our EcoBoost Lincoln MKT showed a minimum of body roll in curves and its shock-absorber tuning and live-wire electronic rack-and-pinion steering flawlessly communicated road-surface information. Competing full-size Cadillac Escalade, Acura's MDX and the Audi Q7, all variously competent, can't hold a candle to the agility of this three-row sports car.
But Lincoln MKT buyers aren't looking for a sports car. Why is agility so important? Simple: sudden accident-avoidance maneuvers require exactly the same extreme vehicle dynamics as high-performance driving. In a crisis, family SUVs need the safety option offered by agility.
In addition to exhibiting excellent handling, the Lincoln MKT is a comfortable, lavishly appointed luxury crossover. Its interior is part living room on wheels, part wood-lined room at the club. It even features power second-row seats that leap forward at the touch of a button for easy access to the third row. The second row can be comfy twin buckets, yielding seating for a total of six, or bench seating with seating for seven. You can even choose an available second-row refrigerator to keep family beverages cool and crisp.
Finally, Lincoln MKT offers the full variety of cyber-connectivity expected from Ford products. A voice-actuated Lincoln Sync communication and entertainment system can be combined with two separate seatback DVD screens. There will be no backseat fighting over what to watch. And Sirius satellite and Travel Link provide entertainment and all relevant traffic, weather and local information, including full listings regional gas stations, arranged by nearness or price per gallon.
A full inventory of airbags is standard, and the Lincoln MKT received a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Additional safety equipment includes blind-spot warning, cross-traffic and rear alert for use in parking lots, a rearview camera, gap-sensitive adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support and much more.