Lincoln, Ford’s prestige brand, won’t pull off the score of the century with the marketing of its MKT. Many are even wondering why Lincoln created a vehicle mid-way between the mini-van and the wagon. The original idea was a good one since it appears that the mini-van in its current format isn’t doing it for a clientele that has turned its attention more toward SUVs. It goes without saying that this MKT isn’t targeting a mass market; rather, it’s hoping for a noticeable impact in the deluxe family vehicles category.
And in this regard, it’s a complete success. But forget about its very intriguing look and you’ll find a car that meets most of the needs of today’s traditional families. By way of comparison, the MKT offers essentially the same interior layout as the Ford Flex and has the same capacity as the Mazda CX-9. All three are very large vehicles that can easily seat up to 6 people. The MKT’s interior offers a more than generous passenger compartment with a second row that features an immense amount of legroom. The first- and second-row seats are extremely comfortable and the engineers thought of everything in order to make them user-friendly. The same can’t be said for the third row where there’s almost no headroom at all. An average-sized adult (say 1.75m) is unable to sit comfortably without her or his head touching the frame of the rear hatch. It makes you wonder if the seat isn’t too high. However, it’s perfect for the legs...
Like its fellow Ford product, the Flex, the entry-level Lincoln MKT is powered by a 268-hp conventional V6. This engine helps boldly accomplish everyday tasks but in slightly more demanding situations, the MKT is better prepared with the Ecoboost version of the V6 that features 355 hp. This twin turbo basically helps pull a heavier load and offer clearly more dynamic performances. As this type of vehicle (rather heavy) is often loaded to capacity, the Ecoboost option becomes very interesting. According to Ford’s data (which we verified, of course), the Ecoboost version has a fuel consumption similar to the traditional V6 while offering power comparable to a V8. And on the road, these figures are corroborated by our measurements.
Excellent touring car
And it’s precisely there, on the road, where the tests were most conclusive. Our initial scepticism faded after only a few kilometres behind the wheel. Although the weight and imposing size of the vehicle are noticeable, they don’t negatively affect the driving experience. It has excellent soundproofing and the gas pedal responds almost instantly, delivering impressive power and helping the MKT bounce gracefully on the street. Obviously, it’s not a true sports car, but its reactions are by far less soft than we imagined. At cruising speed, the comfort is supreme, thanks to the suspensions that create a peerlessly smooth ride despite the 20-inch low-profile tires. Obviously, the car’s weight plays a fundamental role since the MKT sticks to the road as though it’s on rails.
Reluctant city car
In town, it’s another matter altogether. With a total length of nearly 5.3 metres, parking becomes taxing, especially if you don’t want to damage the bumpers. However, there’s Active Park Assist (offered on option for 700 dollars) to take over when parking. Before you activate it, you must read the instruction manual so as not to risk raising the ire of the drivers behind you. After a few failed attempts, I gave up on the system and parked it on my own. It seemed to have some trouble finding its mark. However, during the launch of the Flex Ecoboost last year, I tested Active Park Assist and found it very satisfactory and efficient. In 20 seconds, the car parked itself. I guess I’ll just have to re-read the manual!
This is not the kind of vehicle that you push to its limits, but it was my journalistic responsibility to do so, even if it isn’t a sports car. In the case of the MKT, it reached the limit quickly since the substantial weight becomes noticeable fast. When weaving, the understeer is very obvious and when the brake is pressed a little too enthusiastically the tail end seems to want to fishtail. You can easily verify this effect on a highway exit when your speed is well beyond the recommended limit. You’ll understand right away that this is a vehicle of significant weight and size. But, obviously, the MKT isn’t the kind of vehicle that will be pushed to the limit most of the time.
My experience at the wheel of the Lincoln MKT ended up being very satisfying. I adore the immensity of the passenger compartment, the trunk’s large glass opening and the efficiency of the V6 Ecoboost. The handling is smooth and solid and the soundproofing is exemplary. The fuel consumption is good (considering its power) and the price isn’t excessive. Too bad that the exterior package is so prone to criticism. For the same price, I bet people will opt for a Mercedes instead. What can I say, appearances are important!