Versus the competiton:
Editor’s note: This review was written in August 2010 about the 2011 Lincoln MKT. Little of substance has changed with this year’s model. To see what’s new for 2012, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.
The MKT is an impressive combination of performance, utility, technology and even affordability among its competition — and I want one in my driveway.
When I reviewed the MKT when it debuted for 2010, I was smitten with the massive, pseudo-luxury people-hauler. Sure, its looks are beyond polarizing. Considering I’m one of the only Cars.com editors who likes the styling, I’d say you have a one in 10 chance of finding someone of a similar mind. Good luck getting your spouse to sign up.
Not much about the MKT has changed for 2011, but that’s typical just a year after a new car debuts. To check out the few changes, go here.
Equipped with an optional EcoBoost turbocharged V-6 engine and all-wheel drive, the MKT hustles through town and carves up interstates like a sushi chef does tuna. It’s a thrilling experience, mainly because you’re piloting a vehicle that you could accurately call a boat. At 207.6 inches long, it’s huge; it might not fit in your garage. It doesn’t feel nimble on the road, meaning it doesn’t take corners easily — you have to take the long wheelbase into account — but all that power comes on perfectly, without any turbo lag.
Whether it’s the hearse-like black, the eggplant-purple or the dark red one I ogle at my local Lincoln dealership whenever I drive by, I think the MKT is a breathtaking design.
Others might say it takes their breath away in another manner, however.
The drooping fangs of the giant grille and the narrow headlights give it a slightly sinister face, while the rear is a tad bulbous and art-deco inspired.
On the whole, though, it’s hard to make something this large look all that bad, but everyone has an opinion. If you’ve made it this far into this review, maybe we’re of like minds on the styling.
The problem with the MKT is that it’s a Lincoln, and Ford’s luxury brand is still a work in progress when it comes to interior materials. Everything is fairly nice, but compared with a Lexus or Acura, it’s a step or two below in certain areas. Luckily, versus the Acura MDX you get much more space in the MKT for nearly identical dollars. Against the new Lexus GX I recently tested, you get a vastly better driving experience and save thousands on the MKT’s sticker.
Despite a slightly chintzier button here and a clunkier plastic door panel there, I’ll still take the MKT.
The driver’s seat is comfortable for shorter drivers, but many editors who are 6 feet and taller had a hard time getting it to go far enough back, which hurt the MKT in a recent Faceoff against the MDX and Buick Enclave.
The one difference between my 2011 tester and the 2010 you see in the video on the right was the inclusion of optional second-row captain’s chairs and a center-mounted refrigerator. Not only do you lose the capacity to carry an extra person, the added cargo area seems useless, especially the small refrigerator. I also didn’t find the seats all that comfortable; they’re not a huge upgrade from the bench. Save $995 and go with the bench seat — and save yourself another $895 by not adding that refrigerator.
The third row is uncomfortable in terms of headroom. The sloping rear design aesthetic on the outside means your head will butt the ceiling inside, unless you’re a small child or teenager. Adults over 5-foot-5 or so will never want to be placed there. It’s unfortunate, because the smaller MDX and Enclave have somewhat comfortable third rows despite being considerably shorter than the MKT. The Ford Flex, upon which the MKT is based, doesn’t have the headroom issue either because of its boxy design.
When the third row seats are up, there’s a nice, deep well, similar to what you find in a minivan, delivering 17.9 cubic feet of storage. The seats fold flat to expand to a very usable 39.6 cubic feet of volume behind the second row. Once all the seats are folded, maximum cargo space is 75.9 cubic feet.
The Lincoln MKT is a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which means it scores the top grade of Good in front, side and rear crash tests, as well as a new roof-strength test for rollovers. The only other luxury three-row crossover to receive this score is the Volvo XC90, and the non-luxury winners with three rows (besides the MKT’s Ford Flex sibling) — the Dodge Journey, Subaru Tribeca and Toyota Highlander — are smaller.
The MKT can be equipped with an optional blind spot warning system, adaptive cruise control and a collision warning system.
Sometimes the luster fades off an all-new model when you revisit it a year later. Newer designs come along to woo you, and often the love you once felt for it just doesn’t seem as alluring. And sometimes it does.
I’m glad the MKT returned to my clutches for 2011, because I still love this ungainly looking crossover. I also, however, am a realist who understands that the world doesn’t always share my tastes.