2012 Lincoln MKT Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 13, 2012

EcoBoost thrust and limo-like space may attract you more to the 2012 Lincoln MKT than its polarizing shape, but we're among its fans.

Returning for the 2012 model year with no changes, the Lincoln MKT continues to be a cult-following crossover that draws in a few fans along with lots of puzzling looks.

The styling could hardly be more polarizing. It's already a big vehicle, but the MKT is brash about its size, from the baleen scale of its huge winged grille, to the arrythmic uptick of the chrome shoulder line that runs forever down its sides, all the way to its abbreviated tailgate. For something less bombastic, you'll have to step inside, where soft tones, tight fit and finish and muted textures give the MKT one of Ford's best-rendered interiors.

The love affair with swinging-Sixties inspiration ends at the look. The MKT's road manners are anything but loose and loping, more continental than Continental. The base 3.7-liter V-6 isn't bad or good, it's just indifferent in the way it gathers speed, especially when it's laden with the extra few hundred pounds of all-wheel drive. Apply turbocharging to the same engine and the EcoBoost MKT takes flight, with a blast of torque and a pair of paddle shifters for its six-speed automatic that will encourage you to do some silly things with the more than 5000-pound MKT. It can truly hustle, as an EcoBoost--and if it didn't weigh so much, or sit so long, its handling would come off as even more capable. Fuel economy isn't a strong suit, though--it's as low as 16/22 mpg with the turbo versions.

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The MKT's huge, classy interior can seat six or seven passengers, and even three adults across the second row will find some air between themselves, something you can't say about a Boeing 757. The six-passenger version turns the second-row bench into twin buckets just as comfortably upholstered as those in front--and with a refrigerator tucked between them for all kinds of beverages, adult or not. The third-row seat is almost large enough to host adults, too, but it's mainly intended for kids, or to be folded flat.

When the seats are folded down, the MKT has more than 75 cubic feet of cargo space, well below that of the Buick Enclave but competitive with the Acura MDX and Audi Q7. It's still a vast space inside, and easier to get to, with the MKT's power-folding second- and third-row seats.

The MKT's ranked well for safety by the IIHS, which calls it a Top Safety Pick, but the NHTSA hasn't re-scored it beyond a four-star rollover-resistance rating, under its new criteria. But the MKT comes standard with curtain airbags and stability control, as well as parking sensors, blind-spot monitors and a rearview camera.

Other features bundled in as standard equipment include a huge fixed sunroof; dual-zone climate control; a keyless entry pad hidden on the door frame; pushbutton start with MyKey, which lets drivers set safety features like radio volume and maximum speed; and SYNC, Ford's Bluetooth-driven voice controller for audio, phone and navigation systems.

Priced from the mid-$40,000 range, the MKT isn't an inexpensive family utility vehicle. This kind of distinction comes at a price, and for the roughly $55,000 an MKT EcoBoost will run you, it's a standout performer that will stand out for sure--for the better, we think--in the crossover crowd.

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2012 Lincoln MKT

Styling

The MKT's an audacious crossover, with a love-it-or-hate-it look and a no-excuses interior.

Buick's Enclave is curvy and lovely and uncontroversial, and Audi's Q7 is the German equivalent. Huge, brash, chromey and pretty unsubtle in comparison, the 2012 Lincoln MKT will not be ignored.

The MKT in unabashedly in love with the martini-era Lincoln land yachts of the 1960s, more so outside than in. A casual glance wouldn't give the slightest impression that fundamentally, it's the same vehicle as the box-o-matic Ford Flex--it's a masterful distinction between the pair, with the Lincoln being just as provocative as the Ford. The MKT's sheetmetal flows from a huge twin-nostril grille, riding a big shoulder line all the way to a slinky upkick at the rear quarters. It has its detractors, but we mostly disagree with them except for the grille's size, and for the relatively unfinished look of the tail and its thin ribbon of taillights and badges. Whether you like it or not, the MKT is an arresting design with details that require a second and third look to fully digest, and it's almost touching in its Sixties homages.

The cockpit wears a much more contemporary interpretation of luxury. With wood or metallic trim on the dash, the MKT smartly repeats the shapes from its front end. Crisp white LED lighting and a large LCD screen draw the eye to the high-tech features melded into the dash. They call out clearly, but the rows of black buttons that underscore the electronics don’t do much for design or for clarity. The impressive interior’s the sum of lots of well-executed details, like the fonts on the gauges and the tight fit of the wood trim against low-gloss, soft-touch plastic.
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2012 Lincoln MKT

Performance

The 2012 Lincoln MKT does some surprising things for a big American crossover: it's fast, muted, and reasonably quick on its feet.

If you're hunting for a big V-8 and rear-wheel drive under the 2012 Lincoln MKT's sheetmetal, you'll be surprised not to find either. As Ford downsizes its powertrains and uprates their output with turbocharging, the MKT benefits from one of its more advanced V-6 engines and front- or all-wheel drive. The combination will wow those who have visions of Lincoln performance stuck in the Sixties.

The V-6 found in the MKT has a quieter alter ego. That 3.7-liter six won't start many stoplight drag races. It puts out 268 horsepower through a six-speed automatic, giving the 4,800-pound crossover a 0-60 mph time of about eight seconds. It's more than acceptable in its responsiveness and it's pretty muted, but add on passengers and optional all-wheel drive, and the base MKT can feel a bit leaden.

With a turbocharger strapped to it, the boosted MKT breathes out 355 horsepower, via the same automatic transmission and through either front- or all-wheel drive. This is the MKT to shake change out of the sofa for: it's quick by any measure, and power delivery fits with the big crossover's character. It's smooth and refined, with just a touch of pleasantly aggressive 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.

Gas mileage suffers with the EcoBoost; it's 16/22 mpg, versus 17/23 mpg on the base version. Just remind everyone it carries up to seven people, so it all averages out.

If you think paddle shifters are out of touch in a big crossover like the MKT, hustle one around tight corners and sail around some big bends in one. We've tossed the MKT around the curves and crests near Pebble Beach a few days on end, and not only did it look natural in the Lodge's valet lane, it felt natural hurtling into deep 20-mph turns. It's a barrel-chested linebacker, but the capable suspension still can handle a lot of roughhousing, even if some corners are just too small for such a long car. The MKT rides and steers very well, even though its rack is electric-assisted. In fact, we've enjoyed driving it more than we liked driving Honda's sporty new CR-Z Hybrid.

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2012 Lincoln MKT

Comfort & Quality

The 2012 Lincoln MKT has great seats all around, and exceptional interior room.

Stretch limousines don't have much on the 2012 Lincoln MKT, and neither does the archaic old Lincoln Town Car. This is one big crossover, made for six or seven adults, lots of cargo, and potentially, thousands of miles of exceptionally comfortable cruising.

The MKT comes with a choice of a six-passenger version with twin bucket seats in front and in the middle row, with a two-seat bench in back, or as a seven-seater with a bench seat in the middle row. In the first and second rows, the MKT has uncommon support and space in every direction and with every sensation. The front seats feel like those from Volvo, a high compliment indeed. They're fantastic during long drives, surrounded by enough room in all directions, and with enough give in the seat cushions for pillow-cozy comfort, with underlying firmness. The active headrests on the front seats are softer than the ones in the similar Ford Flex, but like the Flex, they still tilt a little too far forward, and could use a degree or more of tilt. The MKT adds telescoping steering to the Flex features list, which helps drivers find a better seating position. In the second row,  copious foot and leg room is paired with big doors that make entry and exit among the easiest in the class. The bucket seats in this row are large enough for big adults, even--it's a revelation to slide into them, versus clambering into the back of other seven-seat crossovers.

In the third row, the absolute space is nearly large enough for some adults, though it's intended mainly for children. Six-footers will find headroom a touchy issue with the headliner, but everyone else will find it easy to get in and settle into a good spot. Power-folding 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 at the touch of 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.

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2012 Lincoln MKT

Safety

The 2012 Lincoln MKT has a Top Safety Pick award under its belt, and some of the most advanced safety gear on the market.

At least one of the two crash-testing agencies has spoken, and the 2012 Lincoln MKT gets its best ratings to go with a comprehensive set of safety features and options.

We've given the MKT our best safety score possible, because it's loaded with nearly every safety feature imaginable. Some of them, you may not have realized you needed. Each MKT has standard front, side,and curtain airbags (which extend through all three rows of protection); stability and traction control; anti-lock brakes; a rearview camera; a blind-spot alert system; and adaptive headlamps.

Above and beyond these, the big Lincoln crossover adds optional features such as Active Park Assist, which uses cameras and sensors and electric power steering to steer the vehicle into tight parallel parking spots. Pull up next to the spot, call up the assist, and the vehicle steers itself into place, with you coordinating the gas and brake.

In the past, the MKT has earned a five-star rating from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for front- and side-impact tests, but it hasn't been re-tested since the agency rejiggered its formulas in the 2011 model year. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Lincoln MKT its top "good" scores across the board, and since it also has standard stability control, it earns the IIHS' Top Safety Pick award.

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2012 Lincoln MKT

Features

With DVD entertainment systems, active park assist, and THX-certified sound, the 2012 MKT's gadget portfolio is the big mute button for kids and cranky spouses that we all dream of.

The Lincoln MKT's huge standard-features list of electronics and luxury features elbows aside many big crossovers, even the Ford Flex that shares just about everything else with it.

The typical power features and flexible seating systems are standard in the MKT, but it also gets a large fixed-panel glass sunroof; dual-zone climate control; Lincoln SYNC, the Bluetooth-and-voice-controlled entertainment interface also found in Ford-brand vehicles; a keyless entry pad with a control pad built into the door frame; high-intensity discharge headlamps with automatic high-beam function; and push-button start with MyKey, which lets parents set preferences for vehicle top speed, radio volume, and seat/mirror memory positions, to keep younger drivers reined in.

The sub-$50,000 MKT quickly eclipses the $55,000 price mark when it's fitted with EcoBoost engine. That model adds even more standard equipment, like a a power panoramic sunroof; 20-inch polished aluminum wheels; active parking assist and adaptive cruise control; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; and a navigation system with a hard drive for music and maps, and THX II-certified speakers. The sole feature missing from the options list, that's found on other crossovers, is some kind of mobile or streaming TV, like Chrysler's Sirius BackseatTV option.

If that MKT still isn't luxurious enough to satisfy your regular passengers, you can also check the box for a five-quart refrigerator that fits neatly between the middle seats. With the fridge and a battalion of cup holders, your family and friends will never be more than arm's reach from a Coke Zero.

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2012 Lincoln MKT

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is low in the 2012 Lincoln MKT, but before you judge, factor in its seven-passenger seating.

Normally aspirated and turbocharged V-6 engines are the norm, which is why the 2012 Lincoln MKT isn't the most fuel-sipping crossover on the market.

However, the big, bold MKT is rated fairly highly, among vehicles with third-row seats. The EPA gives the MKT with the normally aspirated V-6 a rating of 17/23 mpg, when it's outfitted with front-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive factored in, the numbers fall to 16/22 mpg.

The EcoBoost MKT, with its turbocharger, drops another mile per gallon, checking in at 16/21 mpg.

Ford will not offer hybrid or diesel powerplants in the MKT. The big crossover is already one of the most expensive Lincolns, and adding on those high-tech fuel savers would send its sticker price soaring.

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June 16, 2015
2012 Lincoln MKT 4-Door Wagon 3.5L AWD w/EcoBoost

The MKT is a spacious, comfortable, powerful vehicle that corners moderately well for such a big vehicle.

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Acceleration and braking are first rate. With excellent seats and high quality interior materials, it is a great vehicle for extended travel. It seats 7 and allows for lots of room for extra family members... + More »
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Styling 8.0
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