Lincoln MKT is a three-row crossover that's based on Ford's Flex, which is a car that I love. The MKT has the same platform and interior layout as the Flex, with nicer interior materials and an entirely new exterior.
I will let my geek flag fly and declare that the rear of the MKT looks exactly like a Cylon Raider from "Battlestar Galactica." It's a different reaction to a car that in so many ways is exactly the same as one that I love. My test car was the base model with a 268-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6, a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. It gets an EPA-estimated 17/23 mpg city/highway. The MKT's engine is powerful and quiet, and little road or wind noise creeps into the cabin. It helps you handle the road with confidence.
I couldn't help but wonder at the choices made to dress up the MKT. Some of those changes made the MKT more baby-friendly, such as roll-up window shades and an optional refrigerator. Others just made me scratch my head, including the less comfortable second-row seats and lack of headroom in the third row.
From the front, the MKT looks like a big ol' brace-face because the grille is huge. It has two slanted chrome panels, with the Lincoln badge sitting in the center and looking like a perky nose. A sculpted ridge runs from the badge upward, across the hood.
From the side, the MKT is actually good looking. The curves manage to be elegant; a chrome strip runs around the windows and echoes the crossover's lines. Another slim line of chrome runs along the bottom of the MKT, while small chrome strips adorn the door handles. Wide doors make entry and exit easy for the whole family.
The MKT has an optional Vista Moonroof, which is actually one giant moonroof over the first two rows and a second smaller one over the third row. The effect is one of boundless space and tons of light.
The sloping tail end makes for a really small rear window, which offers less than ideal visibility. The body portion of the rear comes up really high. The taillight is a giant stripe across the back rather than two separate lights on the corners.
The cargo area is deep, rather than wide, when the third row is up. You can fit a small bike in there or a pile of backpacks, but you'll want to think twice before stacking your grocery bags. The space works fine for a moderate-sized grocery run. Once you fold the third row down, you've got plenty of room for a Costco trip or for hauling bulkier items. I was a big fan of the cargo net, which kept items from shifting around.
The MKT's interior is full of contradictions. The materials are rich and lovely to behold, but there's a price in practicality. The center console is covered by two sliding armrests, which also cover the cupholders. The bin itself is smallish but housed a power point and the USB input and MP3 jack. I loved the Light Stone-colored leather and blond wood accents, but the perforated seats made me nervous, as I pictured the many disgusting things my kids could smear all over those teeny holes.
While optional heated and cooled bucket seats ($995) in the second row is a lovely idea, they are useless if your kids are in child-safety seats. However, older kids will enjoy the luxury. My test car had room for six, with two bucket seats in the second row. There's a long center console in this row, which extends across the floor area and makes it a climb to get from one side of the crossover to the other. This becomes seriously annoying in the carpool lane when trying to get multiple kids out of one side of the car in a hurry. A bench seat is standard for the second row, and it ups the passenger count to seven.
Still, with Ford's magical Sync system, the navigation, audio and climate controls were seamlessly integrated. Thanks to the scripts on-screen, the voice control was confusion-free, so I could feel free to ignore the chaos in the second row.
I really enjoyed the dash and instruments in the MKT. The combination of large dials and chrome trim was retro cool, as well as easy to read. The dash isn't cluttered or cramped; it seems spacious and open. With the massive Vista roof, the cabin feels light and airy, especially when paired with the light-colored interior of my test car. There's a two-tone effect, broken by the light wood trim, which separates the seating area from the instrument area. It's like having zones for sitting and zones for operation. Everything is in its place, unlike in my house.
There's plenty of storage in the back, thanks to seatback pockets, door bins and the ginourmous center console with the optional cooled box ($895). There are cupholders in the center console as well as climate controls. There are retractable sunshades on the second-row windows, which is great for protecting delicate skin or playing movie star in the backseat.
While the second row is roomy and comfortable, the MKT's third row is definitely for kids only. I've never been in a third row that I actually didn't fit into. I don't mean it wasn't comfortable, I mean that I had to scrunch down with my head pressed up against the ceiling. Getting to that back row is fairly easy. In the MKT, the third-row headrests fold down against the seatback, rather than sliding down when not in use, but when they are up, rear visibility is virtually nil.
The MKT gets great crash-test ratings, including the top score of Good in frontal, side-impact and rear tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In past years, that'd be enough to earn Top Safety Pick status, but for 2010, IIHS has added a rollover crash test. The MKT hasn't undergone this test yet.
The MKT comes with all kinds of safety goodies to protect you and yours. While the brakes won't exactly stop this large crossover on a dime, they come pretty close with four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist. I never had a scary moment, even when stopping quickly on steep mountain roads. The MKT also comes with standard electronic stability system with anti-roll control, traction control, rear parking sensors and a backup camera, which is essential because of this crossover's poor rear visibility. The MKT has front- and side-impact airbags for the front row and side curtain airbags for all three rows.
The adaptive xenon headlights swivel in the direction of turns and have an auto-dimming feature, so you don't accidentally blind oncoming traffic. The MKT offers an available blind spot warning system and a Collision Warning with Brake Support that can alert the driver to vehicles ahead and ready the brakes.
In the second row, the wide captain's chairs allow booster seats to sit flat, but the Latch connectors are buried, which makes it a struggle to install child-safety seats. There's easily enough room in the second row for a rear-facing car seat. There's a third set of Latch connectors in the third row, which are easier to use than their second-row counterparts.
Sense and style
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
In Diapers: There's plenty of room for a rear-facing child-safety seat, but the Latch connectors in the captain's chairs are hard to get to. In School: Kids will love all of the sunshades, cubbies and gadgets.
Teens: It won't be a teen driver's first choice to drive, but it will keep them safe on the road. Beggars can't be choosers.
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