By Peter N.
- V6 engine that performs like a V8
- All-wheel drive delivers acceleration and confidence
- Advanced technology for the latest bells and whistles
- Restricted visibility
- Some advanced technology was awkward and/or confusing
For this review, I had the unusual pleasure of testing a 2011 Lincoln MKT AWD on a snowy weekend trip up to Tahoe. What better way to test the cruising capabilities, the all-wheel drive for stability, and hauling capacity to pack a family for a ski vacation?
The new Lincoln MKT is a luxury crossover that blends the advantages of both the more agile handling sedan with the power and interior room of a full SUV. With the stretched styling, I found myself thinking of the MKT as the next generation station wagon – and I really mean next generation. The MKT should not suffer from any of the stigmas attached to the 70’s automotive icon. It really delivers on the promise of good handling, roominess and loads of cutting edge technology that elevates to an entirely new plane of existence. And the MKT introduced me to my favorite new road trip feature- adaptive cruise control.
Driving between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Tahoe Lake recreation area is a crowded trip any time of year, any time of the day. Even though it’s potentially a four hour trip, the road congestion makes it a reliable five hours of speeding up, slowing down and changing lanes. The idea of using standard cruise control is a useless exercise in hitting the set, cancel, and resume buttons. However, with adaptive cruise control, the car automatically adjusts speed to maintain a set distance between you and the next car. You can easily cycle through to select a short, standard or long distance cushion depending on your speed and aggressiveness.
While not exclusive to the MKT or even to Lincoln, adaptive cruise control is representative of the loads of technology in this crossover to simplify every possible way of interacting with the car. For example, every SUV that I’ve tested with a 3rd row seat has created a mini-MENSA test to move the 2nd row seat out of the way for loading passengers. In the case of Kia Borrego I reviewed, I simply gave up trying to figure it out. On the MKT, this issue is solved with the push of a button that automatically folds the 2nd seat and moves it out of the way.
While all the powered movement was nice, the technology that will impress your friends is the infotainment system. I had doubts when I saw that this system was based on the new Microsoft SYNC (c) platform, given my experience with their computer operating systems and the very thick manual devoted to this subsystem. While it certainly did have its unique and sometimes awkward interface, on the whole it worked well. It felt more like I was dealing with my laptop than a car, though.