- Distinctive styling wows the unprepared
- First- and second-row seating comfort
- Advanced tech features (including a fridge!)
- EcoBoost engine's smooth sailing
- Telescoping steering wheel standard
- Is that distinctive styling too polarizing?
- One of the best third-row seats is still tight
- Front headrests still sit too far forward
Supremely spacious and stunning from some angles, the 2010 Lincoln MKT gets truly arresting with its EcoBoost turbo V-6.
High Gear Media drove an MKT provided by Lincoln to produce this hands-on road test.
In the automotive world, the words "big" and "responsive" don't normally go together. The all-new 2010 Lincoln MKT puts those two words comfortably in a curvy shape that stands out at a standstill and in motion. Editors from TheCarConnection.com like the Ford Flex and, after spending some time behind the wheel of the mechanically similar MKT, have the same positive impression of the Lincoln. The $46,990 2010 MKT shifts Lincoln further away from its dowdy styling past and delivers vast interior room, while it brings a good measure of driving pleasure and sophistication along for the ride.
It shares its powertrain and chassis with the Ford Flex, but you'd be hard-pressed to identify the 2010 Lincoln MKT as a fraternal twin to the Ford. Where the Flex is a two-box design in the purest sense, the 2010 MKT flows from a canted twin-nostril grille to a sensual upkick in its shoulder line, finishing in a broad, angled decklid banded by a ribbon of taillights and badges. It's a standout design with details that will have you looking a second and third time to identify its heritage-but in retrospect it fits well with Lincoln's past, particularly with the Continentals of the mid-1960s and their broad hockey-stick bands of chrome. Inside, the MKT wears high-quality materials; the wood- or metallic-trimmed dash echoes the front end smartly, and LED white lighting and a sharp LCD screen draw attention, though a few rows of small black buttons do little for style or functionality.
Six-cylinders and automatic transmissions are the core of the 2010 Lincoln MKT's powertrain. The base 3.7-liter V-6 puts out 268 horsepower, and teamed with the six-speed automatic, does a reasonable job of shuttling around the 4,800-pound MKT without merging-lane drama. Adding all-wheel drive picks up a few hundred more pounds. Lincoln offers a turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6-and you should choose it, if you can afford it. The EcoBoost V-6 spools up 355 horsepower and delivers impressive thrust that is completely in keeping with the crossover's character: refined, as a Lincoln should be, with a touch of noticeable engine noise. The heavy-duty six-speed automatic responds accordingly, always calling up the right gear at the right time, and paddle shifters will let you choose gears on command, though they seem a bit out of place in this barrel-chested crossover. Overall, the MKT's ride and handling feel grounded, solid, controlled, and responsive. The base version's suspension and electronic power steering are sharpened for EcoBoost models, which also get standard all-wheel drive; neither drivetrain is meant for clawing around canyon corners, but both provide a creamy ride and a responsive steering feel, with more sensitivity dialed into the EcoBoost version. Fuel economy suffers just a point on the EcoBoost; it's 16/22 mpg, versus 17/23 mpg on the base version.
Both the 2010 MKT and the Ford Flex are designed with adult comfort in mind. 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 show the attention normally paid to the seats in Volvos; they're fantastic for long drives, with room in all directions (and a little contact with hard metallic trim at the knee). The front active headrests are improved over the Flex-they tilt too far forward-but could use a degree or more of recline before we pronounce them perfect. The MKT adds telescoping steering to the Flex package, which improves driving position. Second-row seats have copious foot- and legroom, 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 also available, and third-row passengers can fold second-row seats out of the way by pressing a button-a nice touch. Cargo room behind the third row is as much as an Acura RL, at 17.3 cubic feet; fold down the second 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.
It's difficult to come up with safety features not included on the 2010 Lincoln MKT. Ford installs front, side, and curtain airbags (which extend three rows of protection); stability and traction control; anti-lock brakes; a rearview camera; a blind-spot alert system; and adaptive headlamps. The MKT has been crash-tested by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), and it tops the safety rankings. Other safety features include Active Park Assist, which helps drivers guide the MKT into parking spaces through sensors, cameras, and adaptive cruise control.
Other comfort and convenience features ladled on the 2010 Lincoln 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 specific 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 seats.