2011 Lincoln MKT Performance

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Performance

Look for a massive V-8 and rear-wheel drive under the MKT's skin, and you won't find one. Ford's downsizing its engines while it supersizes performance, and the optional turbocharged six on the MKT will shock some people as much as its buttoned-down handling.

A single engine powers both version of the MKT—it's just that the non-turbo version likely won't light anyone's fire, particularly this 4,800-pound crossover.

It’s quick, agile, and comfortable; the MKT nails the performance-luxury trifecta.

The base 3.7-liter V-6 puts out 268 horsepower, and it's teamed with a six-speed automatic. It can shuffle off a standstill and hit highway speeds in about 8 seconds, but laden with people and optional all-wheel drive, it can start to feel a little leaden. Stir in turbocharging and the MKT gets a boost to 355 horsepower, via the same automatic and front- or all-wheel drive. If you can spare the change, bring this one home. It's impressively quick by any standard, and it's in keeping with the crossover's character: refined and smooth, with just a touch of growly engine noise and rumble. 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.

Fuel economy suffers just a point on the EcoBoost; it's 16/22 mpg,versus 17/23 mpg on the base version.

You might think paddle shifters are an odd touch in a big beast like this, until you hustle one on tightly cornered roads. I tossed an MKT around the Monterey Peninsula during the Pebble Beach weekend, and not only did it look perfectly right in the Lodge's parking lot—it felt right zooming down into deep 20-mph turns. The big hurdle, really, is its size; this is one barrel-chested crossover, and the capable suspension can handle a beating, but 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, I enjoyed driving it more than I liked driving Honda's sporty new CR-Z Hybrid.

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