2011 Lincoln MKT: Even More Luxurious

I’m not sure how the average reader stands on this issue, but I feel that the term Crossover is highly overworked – generally speaking, crossovers are really nothing more than minivans or full size station wagons, with or without All-Wheel Drive. Unfortunately, the majority of the car-buying public seems to view vehicles designated as wagons or minivans with disdain.

The Lincoln MKT is comparable to the R-Class from Mercedes-Benz, since the basic design form is quite similar, as is the general 3-seating row interior layout, and the quality and craftsmanship certainly seems to be on an equal level for considerably less money.

The 2010 MKT was the first vehicle of its kind to grace the Lincoln marque – it is long, low and quite sleek. In terms of the exterior presence, there are those who will no doubt regard the front end styling, with its massive spit-wing grille, as perhaps too bold and maybe even a little ostentatious. I like it, as it demonstrates a willingness to reach beyond the ordinary, while actually emulating Lincoln’s earlier Zephyr grille design. The rear end exhibits an earlier Continental flair, with taillamps that horizontally span the full width of the lightweight, gently curved, magnesium liftgate, in a totally updated flourish. Leather trimmed seating with elegant stitching accent the optional flow-through second-row center console and standard jewel-like acrylic instrument cluster with LED white lighting. The entire MKT design, from virtually every angle blends all elements harmoniously and in good taste – it evokes an emotional appreciation in its execution.

The interior approach matches that of the exterior – it is tastefully done and luxuriously appointed exuding exemplary fit and finish along with quality craftsmanship heralding a return to Lincoln’s glory days.

Power for the MKT is shared with the MKS sedan. There are two fuel-efficient engine choices: Ford’s proven 268 horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 or the new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine that generates more horsepower (355) with a higher level of performance, while delivering the fuel economy of a V-6 without compromise. Both engines mate to a six-speed SelectShift Automatic™ transmission that offers the driver a fully automatic operation or manual control, with paddle shifters integrated into the steering wheel spokes. Squeezing back on either paddle initiates an upshift, while pushing forward on either paddle induces a “matched-rev” downshift.

All-wheel drive is optional in the Lincoln MKT powered by the standard 3.7-liter V-6, enhancing the vehicle’s capability in a variety of road surface conditions. The Intelligent AWD system is fully automatic, utilizing an array of internal electro-mechanical clutches that efficiently distributes torque as needed between the front and rear wheels.  AWD is standard in the Lincoln MKT with EcoBoost. MKT with EcoBoost also features advanced Electric Power Assist Steering, which enables the optional Active Park Assist — an innovative technology that employs an ultrasonic-based sensing system, as opposed to video camera-reliant competitive offerings, making hands-free parallel parking a breeze. Other convenience options include: Adaptive Cruise;  Intelligent Access with Push Button Start; SecuriCode Keyless Entry Keypad; Adaptive Headlamps with Standard High-Intensity Discharge Lamps; Auto High Beams coupled with Adaptive Headlamps; Rain-Sensing Wipers; Easy Fuel Capless Fuel-Filler System; MyKey; Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert; Reverse Camera System; and Lincoln SYNC. An available Navigation Package enables the driver to display personal photos on the centerstack-mounted touchscreen, and the system can store and display up to 32 photos, sized 1.5MB or less.  The home screen may be personalized, by display or desired information or photos in one, two or three panel views. A host of standard safety features ensure confident, secure motoring.

New for the 2011 model year, Lincoln is expanding the available MKT Elite Package to include HD Radio and a PowerFold third-row split bench seat at no additional cost to consumers. The Elite Package also includes: a Voice-activated Navigation System with SIRIUS Travel Link; THX II Certified 5.1 Surround Audio System; BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert; and a Multi-panel Vista Roof.

Notable safety features include: AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control); Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags; Safety Canopy System; Personal Safety System; Belt-Minder; Tire Pressure Monitoring System; SOS Post-Crash Alert System; LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tether Anchors for Children).

My test 2011 Lincoln MKT was powered by the optional 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve EcoBoost V6 with twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection. The exterior featured a White Platinum metallic finish complemented by a Canyon (Brown-tone) premium leather interior, accented by light polished wood and chrome trim elements. The base price was set at $49,200 (the same as last year) while options such as: the Rapid Spec 202A Package with the Elite Package, Premium Package, Voice activated Navigation system, THX II 5.1 surround sound, Power panoramic vista roof and Blind Spot Monitoring System; 20-inch tires and wheels; 2nd row bucket seats, 2nd row, flow-through console; woven metal appearance package; 2nd row refrigerator console; Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning; and Destination and Delivery Charge bumped the final cost to $58,370 before tax and license.

SUMMARY: The 2011 Lincoln MKT with the EcoBoost turbocharged V-6 marks not only a significant step toward Lincoln’s return to its former stature as Ford Motor Company’s luxury division, but represents a refreshing approach to styling and design that once again stirs one’s emotional sensibilities.

The MKT not only displays a stirring and elegant visual presence, but delivers in the performance department as well. It may seem somewhat inappropriate, given its premium status, but refer to the new MKT as a “Hot Rod Lincoln” station wagon, and you’ve actually hit the nail right on the head.

The MKT not only looks good, it rides comfortably, handles with agility, while accelerating briskly and braking efficiently. If there’s any shortcoming at all, it lies in the space available behind the 3rd row seat with a full complement of passengers. Fold the 3rd row flat and live with two-row seating, and there should be more than enough room for accompanying gear.

It’s probably okay to call the MKT a luxury “crossover”, but for me, the term wagon works just fine, especially when it rivals the R-Class Mercedes-Benz.

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