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  • 2011 Lincoln MKT AWD

    Posted on November 4th, 2010 ninarussin

    Six-passenger luxury crossover with fuel-efficient EcoBoost engine

    By Nina Russin

    2011 Lincoln MKT

    In the past, families wanting a luxury vehicle with cargo space were limited to full-sized sport-utility vehicles. While SUVs offer towing, cargo and off-road capability, poor fuel economy raises the cost of ownership. The 2011 Lincoln MKT changes the equation, combining a premium six-passenger interior with a fuel-efficient V-6 engine and all-wheel drive.

    Ford’s EcoBoost engine debuted in the new Ford Taurus SHO. The V-6 powerplant produces up to 355 horsepower. The bigger story is its 350 lbs.-ft. of torque, available at engine speeds as low as 1500 rpm. The MKT tows up to 4500 pounds, exceeding our ALV minimum standard.

    The EcoBoost MKT comes standard with all-wheel drive, which automatically transfers engine power to the wheels with the most traction. All models come with a six-speed automatic transmission. Formula-style shift paddles on the steering wheel let the driver select gears manually for sportier performance.

    The test car seats six passengers, equipped with bucket seats in the second row. Both second and third-row seats fold flat, extending the cargo floor to meet our bicycle-friendly standards. A five-quart capacity refrigerator located between the second-row seats is great for camping or a long day out on the trails.

    Base price on the test car is $49,200, not including the $795 delivery charge. A rapid-spec option package adds voice-activated navigation, a 5.1 surround-sound audio system, blind spot monitoring and a panoramic sunroof ($4000).

    Active park assist uses ultrasonic sensors to guide the car into parallel parking spots hands-free ($595). Second row bucket seats cost $995, the refrigerator is $895. Adaptive cruise control maintains a preset distance from the car in front ($1295), bringing the price as tested to $57,775.

    Test drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas

    2011 Lincoln MKT

    Route 93 which extends between the Arizona town of Wickenburg and the Hoover Dam is one of the state’s most scenic byways.  The road winds through Joshua tree forests, granite needle formations and mountains. Driving 93 takes some time, since parts of the road are two-lane. But it’s worth it for the scenery, which reminds me why I became a car geek to begin with.

    Having the MKT for the trip was kismet. The car’s combination of luxury, tech-savvy features and excellent fuel economy makes it ideal for the open road.

    Road construction seems to have become a way of life for anybody who travels: this trip was no exception. Fortunately, the navigation system includes Sirius traffic updates, warning the driver about incidents so he can detour around them..

    The system is intuitive to configure. Graphics on the large display screen are easy to follow, minimizing driver distraction. I found the system especially helpful foraging through rush-hour traffic in Las Vegas, where drivers seem to take pride in maintaining mach speed, despite the congestion.

    EcoBoost engine combines power and fuel economy

    2011 Lincoln MKT

    Although buyers pay a premium to upgrade from the base Duratec V-6 engine to the turbocharged EcoBoost, it’s worth the investment. The engine’s exceptional torque gives the 5000-pound MKT the ability to soar up steep grades. Drivers needn’t worry about accelerating off the line or into high-speed traffic.

    The combination of turbocharging and large overdrive gears in the transmission gives the all-wheel drive crossover vehicle surprisingly good range. I averaged 18 miles-per-gallon on  the road trip: on par with the EPA estimates.

    A capless fuel filler system eliminates a piece of hardware which is often misplaced. It also prevents the driver from replacing the cap incorrectly, triggering the check engine light.

    EcoBoost models have an electric power steering system in lieu of a conventional hydraulic setup. The advantage is weight reduction and a smaller package under the hood. There are fewer parts to wear out over time, saving the owner on repair expenses.

    The disadvantage of electric systems can be poor steering response. The system on the MKT is well matched to the car, providing plenty of assist at low speeds, while maintaining good on-center response on the highway.

    Due to the car’s long wheelbase, the turning radius is not particularly good. Drivers shouldn’t expect to do U-turns on anything but multi-lane surface streets.

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in the rear. It is compliant without being mushy, keeping the chassis flat in the corners, and well in control on pitchy hills.

    Twenty-inch polished aluminum wheels dress up the exterior, and provide a large, stable footprint at speed. Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes stop the MKT on a dime.

    Visibility to the front and sides is quite good. The blind spot monitoring system is a worthwhile investment for anybody who commutes in rush hour  traffic. Light-emitting diodes in the side mirrors illuminate when cars pass through blind spots to either side of the MKT, protecting the driver against improper lane changes.

    The MKT has a small rear glass and thick D pillars, creating large blind spots to the back. The rearview camera eliminates visibility problems driving in reverse. I would recommend the option, especially for drivers who routinely park in congested public garages.

    Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing noise, vibration and harshness. The optional surround-sound system on the test car offers quality comparable to a high-end home system.

    Upscale interior

    Lincoln MKT Interior

    It is an injustice to call the MKT a living room on wheels: it is too much of a driver’s car. But the interior does incorporate many features from the home office, thanks to the standard Sync system. The driver can use voice commands to make phone calls and program many of the car’s infotainment functions.

    An adjustable lumbar control makes the driver’s seat comfortable for long trips. Mine lasted six hours, with one brief stop for gas. Heated front seats add a measure of comfort in temperature extremes. Tri-zone climate controls allow all passengers to make themselves at home.

    A large panoramic sunroof brings ambient light into the first two rows. Designers added colored ambient lighting in key areas to dress up the interior at night.

    Lincoln’s keypad keyless entry system uses a numeric code to open the doors. It gives multiple passengers access to the vehicle: a great advantage when sharing the car at a trailhead or ski resort. The newest version of the system conceals the numbers until it senses a hand passing over the B-pillar, at which point they illuminate.

    All passengers have an abundance of cup and bottle holders at their disposal. Ditto for 12-volt outlets. A 110 volt outlet enables passengers to plug in a computer or electronic games.

    Bucket seats in the second row offer ample head, leg and hip room. Third row seats are best for small adults or kids.

    Standard safety

    The MKT comes standard with front, side and side curtain airbags. Lincoln’s safety canopy keeps the side airbags tethered to the pillars to prevent passengers from impacting the glass in a side collision. Other standard safety features include four-channel antilock braking, traction and stability control. The SOS post crash system flashes signal lights and sounds the horn in the event of an accident.

    Adaptive headlamps swivel to light corners of the road in rural and suburban areas. The system is useful in intersections, where traditional headlamps may miss a pedestrian waiting to cross the road.

    Adaptive cruise control on the test car includes collision warning, which alerts the driver about slower vehicles up ahead. If the driver fails to slow down, the system pre-charges the brakes to reduce the vehicle’s stopping distance.

    Lincoln builds the MKT at Ford’s Oakville, Ontario Canada assembly plant.

    Likes: A stylish crossover vehicle with seating for six passengers, large versatile cargo area and excellent performance. The available EcoBoost engine enhances fuel economy, reducing the cost of ownership over the long run.

    Dislike: Small rear glass creates large blind spots to the back.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Lincoln
    Model: MKT AWD
    Year: 2011
    Base price: $49,200
    As tested: $57,775
    Horsepower: 355 Hp @ 3500 rpm
    Torque: 350 lbs.-ft. @ 1500-5250 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: Yes
    Fuel economy: 16/21 mpg city/highway


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