Driven: 2010 Lincoln MKT With EcoBoost V-6

May 15, 2009

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 in a parking lot and on the road. (What else can you drive with a grill that looks like a baleen whale?)

We introduced you to Lincoln's full-size, three-row crossover as a concept back at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, and then as a production vehicle at the 2009 show. The newest Lincoln shares underbody components with the popular 2009 Ford Flex, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice anything familiar between the two vehicles if you parked one next to the other. Designers, engineering, and stylists have done an excellent job differentiating the two in the areas that people see and touch.

Editors from TheCarConnection like the Flex, and now after spending some time behind the wheel of the MKT, we now know we like the new Lincoln as well. Overall, the 2010 MKT is a stylish crossover that delivers  truck-based SUVs interior room, but does so without making the person sitting behind the wheel suffer with truck-like handling and fuel economy.

2010 Lincoln MKT at Ford's Romeo, MI Proving Grounds

2010 Lincoln MKT at Ford's Romeo, MI Proving Grounds

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Our first exposure to the 2010 Lincoln MKT came  yesterday at one of Ford's test tracks. This huge facility covers more than six square miles in Romeo, Michigan, and we had the place all to ourselves on a beautiful spring day.

Before getting to the drive portion of this "Driven" post, we sampled rows two and three of the MKT. Row three provided ample leg room for your 5'9" author, but headroom was lacking. These seats are best used by kids who haven't had their last grown spurt. There is genuinely room enough for them back there for those under 5'4", and they shouldn't complain too much. We especially liked the remote release for the second-row seats designed for those in the way-back. Pressing a single button flips the second-row seat forward and clears the floor for relatively convenient entry and exit.

The second-row seats proved as comfortable as the chairs up front. The backrests are adjustable for rake, and the broad view out adds to the interior's feeling of spaciousness.

Now to the good stuff ... we've yet to drive a base MKT with the standard 3.7-liter V-6 engine. It produces 268 horsepower. The models we drove yesterday were all fitted with the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 that features twin turbochargers and direct injection. This technological combo delivers 355 horsepower and 350 lb.ft. torque ... a huge power upgrade.

For more technical details on the EcoBoost engine (also used in the 2010 Taurus SHO, the 2010 Lincoln MKS, and the 2010 Ford Flex), check out this story.

In the MKT, the EcoBoost V-6 delivers impressive thrust that is completely in keeping with the crossover's character. While it might be temporarily entertaining, it wouldn't make much sense for this seven-passenger Lincoln to accelerate like a scalded cat on meth. The MKT is refined, as a Lincoln should be.

Compared to our driving impressions of the 2010 Lincoln MKS with the EcoBoost, the heavier MKT does accelerate with less intensity, but it still feels powerful. Substantial, even. Compared to the excellent Audi Q7 with the 4.2-liter V-8, the MKT was quicker and the power was more readily delivered ... you never had to wait for the thrust to kick you in the backside.

This is a character trait of the EcoBoost engine, because the small turbos spin up to provide maximum torque the instant the throttle is floored. The heavy-duty six-speed automatic responds accordingly, always calling up the right gear at the right time.

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