by Roger Biermann
Based on the Ford Flex, though larger in size, the Lincoln MKT boasts the capacity to seat 7 occupants in a package whose styling can most correctly be described as 'unique'. Whether that styling is good or bad is up to the eye of the beholder. What the MKT does promise though is potent performance thanks to Ford's EcoBoost V6 under the hood. But if Lincoln is to establish itself as more than just re-bodied Fords, the MKT needs to be more than just a Flex in toothy drag.
Though seating 7 people as standard (2nd row captain's chairs drop the number to 6), third row seating is somewhat cramped in the MKT and is not ideal for anything more than short trips or carpools, or smaller passengers. The two rows ahead of that enjoy plenty space, though, in an environment that feels open and inviting. The standard panoramic glass roof aids an airy nature to the cabin, and standard power operated heated and cooled front seats will keep the driver feeling comfortable, whilst heated seats in row 2 keep passengers happy. Tri-zone climate control is available, as is an optional refrigerated centre console in the second row.
The dash is uncluttered and is finished with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system linked o a standard 10-speaker audio system, with an optional 14-speaker THX II sysem with 5.1 surround sound.
The base-spec MKT doesn't get the Continuously Controlled Damping, but does a fair job of handling lumps and bumps in the road even without it. The ride is smooth and imperfections fail to unsettle the MKT's chassis. The adaptive damping handles things a fair bit better, ironing out bumpy roads – aided by the fact that the MKT is almost impervious to road noise making its way in.
With substantial weight, nearly 5000lbs of it, there's a fair amount of body roll, and under braking there's some nose dive. But the MKT resists washing out into understeer. The steering is amply weighted, but tracks true without much need for constant course correction just to maintain a straight line of travel. The brakes are truly uninspiring, feeling spongy without much abuse. Just about every competitor in segment feels better on the brakes – which makes the MKT somewhat worrying when loaded up with 7 occupants.
In base MKT trim, you'll get a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 with outputs of 303 horsepower and 279 lb-ft of torque. In this trim, power goes exclusively to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The engine and MKT derivative you want though is the MKT with EcoBoost; packing a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 of Ford origins. It delivers a healthy 365hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, through the same 6-speed automatic, but in this case it gets to the road via AWD. That boosted torque makes it worth the extra cash for the EcoBoost variant.
A range of options included heated and ventilated seats are available for rows 1 and 2, as well as reclining 2nd row seats, a dual-screen rear entertainment system, and 110v output power socket. The MKT features only 2 active safety systems – adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning. But it has a full suite of airbags, ABS with EBD, stability control, tire pressure monitoring and a rear-view camera as standard. The NHTSA rates it a 5-star vehicle and the IIHS rates it good.
In 3.5-liter EcoBoost AWD format, the Lincoln MKT is a mobile lounge on wheels for occupants of the 1st and second rows. Avoid using row three, and make sure you don't have to brake too suddenly, and you'll be more than impressed with the MKT's levels of comfort and refinement.