As a car loving fool who is lucky enough to be an automotive journalist, it should come as no shock that I’ve had my nose in car magazines since I was in grammar school. Growing up, and still today one of my favorite writers is Peter Egan, whose column in Road & Track magazine has been a personal favorite of mine for years. But as East Coast Editor here at The Garage, I had been confounded that no one in my generation had really stepped up and made their mark in the automotive press. That changed when Ezra Dyer joined Automobile and got his own op-ed spot. Dyer is hilarious, and is always a joy to read.
Then Ezra did something really weird. He wrote in Automobile that he bought a Lincoln MKT. It made no sense. This guy is like me-a Generation X New Englander, married, with kid in tow. But really, a Lincoln? So, I had to find out for myself. Ford’s public relations office in New York City informed me a freshly minted 2013 Lincoln MKT was available for my review.
The Lincoln MKT has been around since 2010. Positioned as Lincoln’s top crossover, the MKT shares its mechanicals with the Ford Flex. For 2013 the MKT is treated to a mild refresh, including a revised interior, and new front fascia. To say the MKT has bold styling is a bit of an understatement. The enormous waterfall grill is imposing, and not all that elegant. Taken as a whole, the MKT is one large car-which it needs to be, as it is the successor to the Lincoln Town Car. But apart from the front end treatment, Lincoln kept it simple but classy for a three-row crossover. Finished in Tuxedo Black Metallic, my wife likened the MKT to a hearse. While I wouldn’t be that harsh, the MKT may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you would be a fool to ignore the beauty within.
The cabin of the MKT offers first class seating. The quality of materials, fit and finish and available features are outstanding. If you have been dismissing Lincoln as a tired old luxury automaker, it’s time to wake up and see that Lincoln has finally reawakened and is getting serious about delivering the goods. The MyLincoln touch interface that controls navigation, audio and other functions is a revision over the original, and it seemed to work ok, but there is a bit of a learning curve. Still, there is no denying the MKT offers an extraordinarily comfortable cabin. With second row captain’s chairs, my six year old lorded over the rest of the MKT’s passenger area, loving the plethora of features, storage space, and especially the built-in window shades on the doors. I take home a brand new car every week, but my son declared the MKT was the coolest car ever. Perhaps Ezra was on to something.
What didn’t hurt as the Dad and driver was what lurked under the hood. Base MKT’s come standard with a 3.7L V-6 rated at 300hp, paired to a six-speed automatic, and is front-wheel drive. Our test car was the MKT EcoBoost, which houses a 3.5L twin turbo V-6, good for 355hp. Also paired to a six-speed automatic, the EcoBoost MKT comes standard with all-wheel drive. For a huge, heavy crossover, the MKT was positively remarkable to drive. On a grey Saturday I whisked my family up to the old city of Waterbury, CT, famous for its clock making industry that is sadly just a memory now. The Lincoln had power to spare on the twisting turns of Route 8 as we made our way through the Valley. The second half of our trip consisted of fun to drive backroads to farmers markets and such, and the big Lincoln felt amazingly nimble, credit its adaptive suspension for great handling.
As a member of the small but growing group of premium three-row crossovers, the Lincoln MKT is priced accordingly. Our all-wheel drive EcoBoost MKT has a standard price of $47,280USD, with an array of standard equipment including power liftgate, leather interior with heated seats for the two front rows, and ventilated seats for the front, three-zone climate control satellite radio and rear view camera. Our test car added the Elite Package (power folding third row seat, blind spot monitoring, navigation, THX audio), Technology Package (Sirius Satellite radio, Sync voice activated systems, adaptive cruise control), second row captain’s chairs, panoramic vista roof, refrigerator console, rear inflatable seatbelts (awkward and uncomfortable) and 20″ polished alloys. Total tally came to $58,045, including delivery. Hardly cheap, but consider the luxury, power and tech you are getting, and suddenly the German competition looks very overpriced.
Now that Ford has finally righted itself, attention is being paid now to Lincoln, which has been a once proud, but neglected luxury brand. The MKT shows me Lincoln is capable of building world class luxury cars that are also fun to drive. Yes, the styling is controversial. But it is bold, and the MKT has the luxury and performance to back it up. While it may not be for everyone, the Lincoln MKT is a premium crossover that deserves a serious look before signing a check for a Buick Enclave or Infiniti JX35. Having driven all three, I prefer the looks of the Infiniti, but from the driver’s seat, the Lincoln is the clear winner.