As times change and formerly popular large truck-based SUVs morph into more efficient crossover alternatives, the big American wagon appears to be staging a renaissance. This new utility breed, the CUV, is car-based like the wagons of old but features the taller body style of traditional sport-utilities. One of the leading entrants in this field is the Ford Flex, which spawned an even bolder luxury crossover from Ford's luxury division: the three-row, six- or seven-passenger Lincoln MKT.
The big news here, aside from the Lincoln MKT's expansive 208-inch length, is the available turbocharged V6, which saddles up 355 horsepower and all-wheel drive to move the MKT's substantial heft smartly. Every MKT also offers a quiet, finely trimmed cabin and more amenities than you'd expect in a luxury ride. The MKT's tight third-row seating is a drawback, but overall, this Lincoln -- particularly the current model -- is worth a look.
Current Lincoln MKT
The Lincoln MKT is a full-size luxury crossover SUV that seats six or seven. The entry-level MKT gets a 3.7-liter V6 that puts out 300 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque. The MKT EcoBoost receives a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that whips up 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Both models feature a six-speed automatic transmission.
The base MKT is front-wheel drive only, whereas the MKT EcoBoost has standard all-wheel drive along with driver-selectable settings that alter steering response, stability/traction control intervention, transmission behavior and suspension tuning.
Standard equipment on the MKT is very generous. Items that would typically be high-end options on other luxury models are included, such as adaptive xenon headlights, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, power-adjustable pedals and steering wheel, rear sunshades, a rearview camera and even mobile WiFi. The new MyLincoln Touch electronics interface is also included, bringing most interior controls under the jurisdiction of a large central touchscreen. Updates made for 2013 have improved the usability, speed and reliability of this system, though it may still require some time to acclimate.
Should the standard items not be enough, the MKT also offers a power-folding third-row seat, rear seatbelt airbags, a blind-spot warning system, adaptive cruise control, an automatic parallel parking system, a navigation system, a panoramic sunroof, a surround-sound audio system, and heated and ventilated second-row captain's chairs with a further optional small refrigerated console in between.
In reviews, our editors have been impressed by the MKT EcoBoost's effortless power, particularly given that the turbocharged engine exacts no fuel economy penalty over the otherwise capable base engine. Other than the mechanically identical Ford Flex EcoBoost, there's no other three-row crossover quite like it. Regardless of engine, however, the MKT delivers surprisingly adept handling for such a large vehicle and a ride that's comfortable in most situations. The EcoBoost's adjustable suspension should improve this even further.
Inside, we've applauded the Lincoln MKT's fashionable design and fine materials, though MyLincoln Touch has its aforementioned downsides. The standard seven-passenger version can carry three in its middle-row 60/40-split-bench, while the six-passenger model substitutes a pair of optional bucket seats that slide fore and aft. With four people aboard, the MKT is one of the easiest places to spend time on the road. However, the sloping rear roof subtracts valuable headroom compared to the squarish Flex, making the third row really only suitable for children or short adults.
Used Lincoln MKT Models
The MKT debuted for the 2010 model year. Originally, the base model was available with all-wheel drive, but this was removed from the options list for 2012. Models produced prior to the 2013 model year differ in a number of different ways, the most obvious being its different grille design. Other differences can be found under the hood. The entry-level MKT still featured a 3.7-liter V6, but it put out only 268 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. This resulted in merely adequate acceleration for the big, heavy MKT. The EcoBoost powertrain is unchanged.
The first three model years also featured an older electronics interface, which lacks some of the current car's MyLincoln Touch features and design flourish, but may ultimately be easier to use. Other items not available were the inflatable rear seatbelts, lane departure warning/assist, a heated steering wheel and the EcoBoost's adjustable dampers. Despite this latter omission, this MKT still boasted surprisingly capable handling, yet it didn't sacrifice the smooth and refined ride quality expected in a premium vehicle of this sort.
In general, if the current MKT appeals to you, then used examples should as well. Beyond the base engine's mediocre acceleration, much of its pros and cons have remained the same.