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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.
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.