In a world of similar-looking crossover vehicles, the Lincoln MKT stands apart, courtesy of its controversial appearance. A large, three-row crossover SUV that seats six or seven depending on configuration, the design of the MKT was inspired by the now-defunct Town Car.
Part of Lincoln’s lineup since 2010, the MKT continues into the 2017 model year with little change.
The MKT might look strange from the rear, but it’s spacious and comfortable, capable of providing luxury travel for a family group (or placed into livery service).
All-wheel drive and front-wheel drive are available. With a choice of two V6 engines, the MKT is a stronger performer than one might assume.
The standard engine is a 3.7-liter V6 with front-wheel drive. The 3.7-liter engine makes 303 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, working with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-rated 16/24 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined.
An optional 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 comes with all-wheel drive, a 6-speed automatic, and an upgraded suspension with continuous damping control. The EcoBoost V6 develops 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet, with paddle shifters at the steering wheel that can control the transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 15/21 mpg City/Highway, or 17 mpg Combined.
MKT comes in one trim level, abundantly equipped with leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, 10-speaker audio, a power tilt/telescopic steering column, remote start, and adjustable pedals. SYNC 3 infotainment includes an 8.0-inch screen. Heated and cooled front seats are 12-way power-adjustable. High-intensity-discharge headlights incorporate automatic high-beams.
Safety equipment includes a rearview camera and rear parking assistance. A number of active-safety features are available at extra cost, including forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and active parking assistance. Lincoln offers a MyKey system, which can let parents restrict the on-road behavior of teenage drivers. A seatbelt airbag system also is available for outboard occupants in the second row.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave MKT Good ratings in each completed test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave a four-star score for rollover avoidance (a calculated figure).
The 2017 Lincoln MKT 3.7 ($43,530) has the 3.7-liter V6 engine and front-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, automatic climate control (three zones), fixed-panel panoramic sunroof, second-row sunshades, ambient cabin lighting, keyless start, foglamps, power liftgate, rear spoiler, and 19-inch alloy wheels. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
MKT 3.5 AWD ($49,025) substitutes all-wheel drive and the more powerful EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 engine. An Elite Package for the EcoBoost model includes a power-folding third-row seat, HD radio, a THX II-certified audio system, heated steering wheel, and voice-activated navigation. A Technology Package (which requires the Elite Package) adds adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation, active park assist, and active lane control. You can also specify a second-row refrigerator console, rear-seat entertainment package, 20-inch wheels, and a towing package.
From the rear, it’s easy to spot an MKT, which flaunts a bulbous, heavy-looking tail end.
Up front, squinting your eyes might reveal a hint of the cowcatcher on an antique steam locomotive. Several design elements are reminiscent of Lincoln’s lavish, stretched-out sedans from the 1960s.
Even though seven years have passed since the MKT’s debut, its styling stills seems audacious. Beneath the surface, on the other hand, lies a foundation based upon the strictly boxy Ford Flex crossover model.
Peek inside an MKT and you might experience a sense of darkness, but supremely supportive seats await. Two seating configurations are available: seven-passenger, with a bench in the second row; or six-passenger, which substitutes a pair of bucket-style captain’s chairs in that row. Both versions include a two-place bench in the third row.
Passengers in either the front or second row can expect remarkable support, as well as open space in all directions. Front seats, in particular, promise a pleasant experience on long Interstate journeys. Even though those seats feel as soft as pillows, that gentleness conceals a substantial level of firmness within the cushion structure. A broad range of adjustments helps the occupant find an ideal driving position.
Rear doors open wide, and adults in the second row can expect abundant leg space. Getting into the third row, on the other hand, presents quite a challenge, at least for grown-ups.
Lincoln’s SYNC3 infotainment system dominates the center of the instrument panel, where capacitive-touch controls substitute for traditional switches and knobs. A configurable gauge cluster ahead of the driver displays a variety of data, including navigation details.
Cargo volume is about equivalent to the volume of a big sedan’s trunk. Folding down the second-row seats creates a load floor that’s nearly flat, while providing about 76 cubic feet of space, a bit small for a vehicle in this category.
With the EcoBoost V6 underhood, power delivery is smooth and eager, even emitting a slightly sporty engine sound. Though not as potent as the EcoBoost, the base 3.7-liter V6 is stronger than might be expected.
Ride and handling capabilities are appealing, creating a nicely controlled road experience, even when the driver turns off the Interstate and heads down some rural two-lane roads. With its impressively capable suspension complementing the muscular engine, an MKT can cope with considerable harshness, as found on any sort of imperfect pavement surface.
Still, the MKT is undeniably a large and long vehicle. That means certain corners, urban or otherwise, are sure to be a bit too tight for comfort. In this area, the EcoBoost model may be a wiser choice, simply because it includes three-mode damping control for the suspension. When used effectively, the suspension can react swiftly as road-surface conditions change.
No one is likely to expect great fuel economy from a vehicle with the MKT’s dimensions and weight. With the base 3.7-liter V6, the MKT is EPA-rated at 16/24 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined. Picking the EcoBoost engine with all-wheel drive drops the EPA’s estimate to 15/21 mpg City/Highway, or 17 mpg Combined.
Even though its heritage dates back to an early era of luxury motoring, the MKT comes with quite a collection of contemporary features. This big, versatile crossover is loaded with technology and capable of surprisingly stirring performance. Sure, it looks like an odd duck; but look past the profile, and MKT is a capable contender in the luxury crossover league.
Driving impressions by Kirk Bell, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.