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As a vehicle that's traditional and retro, yet quirky enough to possibly draw a cult following, the 2013 Lincoln MKT oozes a conservative and family-friendly charm, yet it looks right staying out late at night. And just like the characters of Mad Men, it'll do all that, and perhaps draw a few puzzled looks along the way.
The styling is smooth and suave, yet brash and chiseled. From the baleen scale of its huge winged grille--newly smoothed over for 2013--to the arrythmic uptick of the chrome shoulder line that runs forever down its sides--the MKT says something bombastic on the outside. Step inside, and it's all soft tones. It's been made even better for 2013, with fewer matte-metallics, upgraded trims, and soft tones--with the controversial MyLincoln touch added to the instrument panel and gauges revamped.
Any retro influences end here; the MKT drives like a modern vehicle in every way, with tight body control for such a large, heavy vehicle. The base 3.7-liter V-6 gains 35 hp over last year's engine--making 303 hp--while all-wheel-drive versions get a 365-hp, 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6. While we haven't yet driven the new base model, the EcoBoost versions, with their steering-wheel paddle-shifters and quick-shifting six-speed automatic, manage to be quite fun to drive. 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 16/23 mpg with the turbo versions. And this year, new chassis tuning, quicker-ratio electric power steering, and new continuous damping should make the MKT an even better drive. Some version 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.
The MKT interior can seat six or seven passengers, and it's big and classy. Even three adults across the second row will find some air between themselves. 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. Do that (with available power-folding second- and third-row seats), and the MKT has more than 75 cubic feet of cargo space, well below that of the Buick Enclave but competitive with a wide range of models this size like the Acura MDX and Audi Q7.
For 2013 Lincoln has added a suite of advanced driver-assist technologies to the feature seat--altogether increasing the chances that you might be able to avoid an accident altogether. Lane Keeping Assist, Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, and a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) are all available for 2013, as well as the MyKey system that lets parents program vehicle settings for teen drivers. The IIHS rates it a Top Safety Pick, and new inflatable second-row belt system may help avoid injury.
The 2013 Lincoln MKT is a luxury vehicle through and through. So its no surprise that there's no base model or budget offering in the lineup; there are only two MKT models in the lineup, and both of them come very well equipped. Heated-and-cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, power-folding rear seats, and voice-activated navigation are all available, and separate options include rear-seat entertainment, and a refrigerator console for the second row.This review is based on seat time in previous-model-year versions, and in the comparably revised 2013 Ford Flex. We'll update this review with more driving impressions as soon as we get into a 2013 Lincoln MKT.