The Car Connection Lincoln MKT Overview
The Lincoln MKT is a large luxury crossover SUV with seating for up to seven passengers. A relative of the very differently styled Ford Flex, the MKT was new in the 2010 model year, built off a platform that traces its origins to the first Volvo XC90.
The MKT sits between the MKX mid-size crossover and the Navigator full-size SUV in Lincoln's lineup. It's never been a strong seller, but it's become popular with limousine and black-car services, as well as Uber, for its big interior room.
MORE: See our 2016 Lincoln MKT review
The MKT has what we might call interesting sheet metal—an attempt to adapt design idioms of classic Lincolns from previous decades to the shape of a crossover utility vehicle. In previous decades, the large utility vehicle would have simply been called a wagon.
While the Flex is all angles and straight lines, the MKT riffs on the heritage of 1960s Lincolns with big bands of chrome and a kinky uptick in its greenhouse, splitting the air with a massive batwing grille that's easily the most daring and controversial thing the brand has done in decades. Inside, it's much less divisive: there's a high-quality dash well tailored in wood, leather, and metallic accents, lit brightly by white LEDs, and capped by a big LCD screen for infotainment and ancillary controls.
Lincoln offers a choice of two six-cylinder engines in the MKT. The base model originally included a 268-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 and a 6-speed automatic—a close relative of the powerplant in the Lincoln MKS sedan and even the related Mazda CX-9 crossover. For 2013, the engine was upgraded to a new 303-hp version. The sportier models get a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 that originally made 355 horsepower but was upgraded to 365 hp for 2013; like the 3.7-liter, the EcoBoost engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic.
Naturally aspirated models come with front-wheel drive, while the EcoBoost MKT has standard all-wheel drive. Both come with standard shift paddles for their 6-speed automatics. It's a somewhat odd sensation, paddle-shifting a vehicle this large, but the MKT responds very well to a heavy foot and quick fingers: electric power steering is light and quick, body motions are as well-controlled as they can be for such a long vehicle, and while you wouldn't call it nimble, the MKT isn't numb or indecisive during fast-paced driving maneuvers.
The MKT can be had in six- and seven-passenger versions, with bucket seats in the second row an option over the standard 60/40 split-folding bench seat. The front seats are large and cozy, even if the active headrests push on the back of passengers' heads a little too intently. Second-row seats have copious foot and leg room, and the third row is almost large enough for some adults, though mainly intended for children. Power "fold and tumble" second-row seats with heating, cooling, and power-assisted lumbar adjustment are included with the six-passenger option; when equipped, third-row passengers can fold second-row seats out of the way by pressing a button—a nice touch that is oddly not more prevalent in other three-row vehicles. Cargo room behind the third row is 17.3 cubic feet; fold down the rearmost seat and it rises to 39.6 cubic feet. With both rear rows folded, the MKT has a cavernous 75.9 cubic feet of room for hauling home estate-sale finds.
Comfort and convenience features ladled on the MKT include a large, standard, fixed-panel sunroof; dual-zone climate control; the Bluetooth-and-voice-controlled SYNC system; a keyless entry pad on the door frame; high-intensity discharge headlamps with automatic high beams; and push-button start with MyKey features that allow drivers to set preferences for speed controls, radio functions, and seat/mirror memory positions. A handful of options can be specified to bring the most expensive MKTs to nearly $55,000, including a power panoramic sunroof; 20-inch polished aluminum wheels; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; active parking assist and adaptive cruise control; a navigation system with a music hard drive and THX II-certified speakers; and last but not least, a five-quart refrigerator mounted between the middle row's bucket seats.
For 2013 the MKT received many drivetrain and interior changes, starting with a more powerful 3.7-liter V-6 that's good for both 303 hp and 25 mpg highway fuel economy; also new were Town Car livery versions that offer a higher-mileage EcoBoost 4-cylinder alternative that won't be sold to the general public. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 returns with 365 hp and a 23-mpg highway rating. Both are teamed to a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters and full manual control, as well as rev-matched downshifts. Some versions are fitted with Lincoln Drive Control, which allows the driver to select between Normal, Sport, and Comfort modes, depending upon conditions, road and passenger feedback.
Models equipped with the EcoBoost V-6 also include an adaptive suspension that Lincoln calls Continuously Controlled Damping. It's adjusted through the Lincoln Drive Control settings, and Lincoln claims it is tuned to balance ride comfort and handling. The MKT is also available with inflatable rear safety belts and includes the latest version of MyLincoln Touch for infotainment duties.
In 2014, Lincoln began marketing a Town Car version of the MKT to livery fleets. It is sold with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost inline-4 and front-wheel drive, with fuel-economy ratings of 20 mpg city, 28 highway. The body is the same length, but the third row is removed and the second row pushed back to create extra room for passengers. There were few other changes to the MKT in 2014.
Lincoln made no major changes to the MKT for 2015 or 2016.