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2010 Lincoln MKT Review – Lincoln finds the sweet spot for luxury crossovers

Tuesday November 10th, 2009 at 11:1111 AM
Posted by: twain

2010 Lincoln MKT
By Twain Mein

Pros:

  • Very quite and well-damped ride
  • Beautifully appointed interior
  • Massive dual-panel panoramic sunroof
  • Incredible THX-certified sound system
  • Exterior styling

Cons:

  • Visibility
  • iPhone syncing
  • 3rd row leg room and overhead space
  • Exterior styling (!)

Introduction

The 2010 Lincoln MKT is Ford’s up-scale version of the Ford Flex “crossover”. Crossover is taking a traditional car platform and extending it to give the space of an SUV. Many SUV’s, like the Chevy Tahoe, are built on truck chassis (“body on frame”) versus a car chassis (“unibody” construction where the body is structural). By enlarging a car unibody, crossovers promise the space of an SUV with ride and handling of a traditional car. The Lincoln is built on the same D4 platform as the Ford Flex, and it distinguishes itself with aggressive styling and luxurious amenities. The D4 platform is a “stretched” version of the D3 platform which originally underpinned the ’03 Volvo XC90 as well as the Ford Taurus. These Swedish genetics are good assets for Ford/Lincoln which provide a rigid structure and competent chassis. The version we tested had the base 3.7 liter, 270 hp Duratec engine and was optioned for a ~$49,000 price tag.


2010 Lincoln MKT

Driving impressions

There is a sweet spot niche between thirsty and ponderous SUVs and dowdy, overly-practical minivans, which has spawned the crossover segment. It seems that young families are no longer content to be “just practical” but also want styling, sportiness, and enough electronica to suit the iPhone generation. The Lincoln MKT answers this challenge with car-like handling, lots of space and utility, unique looks, a high level of luxury amenities, and gizmos aplenty. As a forty-something parent and techno-geek, I found myself looking forward to driving this serene vessel at every opportunity, so they’ve hit the mark with me.

Driving the crossover, despite its near 5,000 pound weight, was trauma-free. The engine, despite being the base model with “just” 270 horsepower, had ample torque for around town acceleration as well as highway passing power.

Build

Ford has done a great job at product quality. The paint job appeared “thick”, rich, and deep. The interior was beautifully appointed with rich perforated leather seats and elegant wood trim. The doors were solid and the power-assisted tail gate was easy to operate with the key fob remote. The chassis felt secure and well built with no rattles or extraneous vibrations. Reportedly, they took a few lessons from Ford-owned Aston Martin borrowing acoustic dampening technologies and use of aluminum parts.

2010 Lincoln MKT

Interior comfort and ergonomics

Ford touts its Microsoft-based SYNC© system which promised voice activated control of Bluetooth enabled cell phones and MP3 compatibility. I was excited to test the system with my new Apple iPhone. Unfortunately, I could not get the iPhone to synchronize via Bluetooth; iPhones are reportedly difficult to sync (pun intended), so I won’t ding Ford for that. However,some of the songs on my iPhone weren’t encoded in the proper format and the Sync system refused to play ANY of the music from iPhone. Apparently there are Microsoft/Apple compatibility issues. It’s unfortunate that these electronic gizmos didn’t work immediately and could prove to be extremely frustrating.

Lincoln MKT interiorLincoln MKT instrument clusterLincoln MKT center stack

Additionally, the location of the USB port is awkward to reach from the driver’s seat; you have to reach down and to the back-left to plug the USB cable in. I was also disappointed that this model didn’t have a rear-seat DVD player, though this option is available. Regardless, despite great intentions, the Lincoln fell short on the gadget side; your results may vary.

On a more positive note, the sound system was simply world class. The THX II certified sound system pumps 600 watts through 14 speakers. And it just sounds phenomenal; it is arguably the best factory-supplied sound system available and edged out the previously best sounding audio system from the recently tested BMW 750li. In fact, the sound was so clean and well imaged, I wished it had more than 600 watts – it was that clean.

Lincoln MKT 2nd row seatingLincoln MKT 3rd row seating appropriate for small peopleLincoln MKT fold and tumble 2nd row seats

The interior trim was beautifully executed; seats were luxurious perforated leather and the wood inlays were tastefully done. The huge panorama sunroof was an indulgent treat and speaks to the chassis inherent stiffness. The interior was extremely hushed at speed; only at higher revs does the engine noise significantly intrude. The seat cooling fans, like the BMW 750li, were surprisingly noisy. However, they seemed to be actually quieter than the BMW, which is remarkable given that the BMW costs more than twice as much.

18 cubic feet of cargo space behind 3rd row seatsdual panel panoramic vista sunroofvery nice wood trim

With regard to space, the main selling point of crossovers is interior space that allows for easy loading of infants and plenty of space for all of their gear. Against its competition, the MKT came up in the middle between it’s sibling, the Ford Flex, and the Toyota Highlander. Rear seat room is plentiful, however, the front seat backs angle back significantly which means that kids in car seats can easily scuff them with their feet. The third row had reasonable leg room but headroom was sacrificed with the sloping roof line; it’s tight for adults but plenty big enough for kids. Cargo space with the third seat up was also mid-pack; with the third seat folded down, there is a generous 40 cubic feet of storage.

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