2013 Lincoln MKT at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show

  • Competes with: Buick Enclave, Acura MDX
  • Looks like: The whale tail remains, but the baleen have multiplied
  • Drivetrain: 300-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 with front-wheel drive, or 355-hp, twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 with all-wheel drive; six-speed automatic
  • Hits dealerships: Spring 2012

The refreshed Lincoln MKT, a cousin to the refreshed Ford Flex, gets a litany of interior and exterior updates for 2013. Besides the visual alterations — which include a reshaped grille and redesigned dashboard — the three-row crossover gets an uprated base V-6, optional adaptive suspension and other hardware upgrades. The MKT hits Lincoln dealerships next spring.

More 2011 L.A. Auto Show Coverage

The MKT's grille plunges less but carries more vertical slats — 36 instead of 14 — in a "calmer, more restrained way," Lincoln says. So less blue whale, more humpback. The MKT's trademark belt line kink and broad tail remain, if you dig that sort of thing. If not, keep the sunglasses on.

Inside, the MKT gets Lincoln's controversial MyLincoln Touch system, albeit an upgraded version with simpler layouts and faster response. Other changes include a new steering wheel and redesigned gauges with twin LCDs. The three-row interior seats six or seven, depending how you configure the second row. Luxury options include a second-row refrigerated compartment and heated and cooled seats for the first and second rows. An optional heated steering wheel is new, and additional insulation should further reduce road and wind noise.

New safety options include the Ford Explorer's inflatable second-row seat belts, as well as drowsy-driver warnings and a lane departure warning system.

Lincoln bumped output for the MKT's 3.7-liter V-6 to 300 horsepower and 275 pounds-feet of torque, up from 268 hp and 267 pounds-feet of torque in the current car. Lincoln says 90% of MKT buyers get the EcoBoost version, which makes 355 hp and 350 pounds-feet of torque. Like before, the base V-6 uses front-wheel drive, while the EcoBoost gets all-wheel drive. Gas mileage for the former is 17/25 mpg city/highway, up 1 mpg highway from before; EcoBoost models remain at 16/23 mpg.

A quicker steering ratio and larger disc brakes should improve handling, while EcoBoost models get an adaptive suspension. Lincoln Drive Control, a new feature, allows drivers to switch among three suspension calibrations. It also dials in commensurate levels of power-steering assist, drivetrain response and stability-system intervention.

The changes, no matter their end worth, might not be enough to save the MKT from continuing to flounder in the sales department.

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