2013 Lincoln MKT EcoBoostPosted on August 15th, 2012
One of the most technically advanced vehicles on the planet
by Jim Woodman
As an Internet entrepreneur, a lot of my software engineers refer to me as an “athlete who’s a wanna-be geek” because I’m always tinkering with or curious about the latest technology.
So imagine my delight in test driving the new Lincoln MKT with some of the most advanced technology and safety features available in any 3-row SUV or crossover. Here, finally, was a car that met all my athletic needs while satisfying my thirst for the latest and coolest technology innovations and gadgets. While not the most aesthetically pleasing vehicle from the outside, it’s absolutely gorgeous inside.
I’ll get into some of the innovative technology in a bit, but let me first cover the basics. My test drive vehicle came outfitted with the optional 3.5 liter EcoBoost turbo-charged V6 that delivers an impressive 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque at just 1500 rpm. Considering the MKT’s size, I was pleasantly surprised with the acceleration, especially in the 40-70mph range. I saw Edmunds ran a performance test for 0-60 mph and the MKT EcoBoost did it in 6.3 seconds, which is very impressive for a 4,900 pound 3-row crossover.
Adaptive Suspension System
My 6-speed all-wheel drive also felt more sedan-like taking exit ramp curves at 60 mph. Steering was very responsive and felt nice and tight at freeway speeds. Part of this steering response is based on a very cool new adaptive suspension feature dubbed Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD), which comes standard on the EcoBoost, and utilizes 46 different inputs to continuously monitor 23,000 packets of information per second to calculate the optimal damping force. Based on this data, calculations are then made up to 500 times per second and the actual mechanical adjustments occur between 20 to 50 times per second, depending on conditions.
Because of the fast response time, the system recognizes when it’s about to hit a bump or pothole and adjusts the damping before a jarring hit so your wheels and tires take less of a beating. The CCD also utilizes data from the front wheels to adjusts the rear wheels accordingly.
Speaking of the CCD, I realized I’m already talking technology and it’s hard not to with the MKT. Some of the other ways technology improves the driving experience include lane assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic parallel parking and sensors that let you know if a car is in your blind spot or coming from the side in a parking lot as you’re pulling out.
Lane Assist was one of the coolest features I’ve seen in a car in a while. What happens is a camera mounted under the rear view mirror continuously monitors where you are in the lane by looking at the road markings. When turned on, it not only alerts you that you’re drifting out of your lane, but it literally helps turn you back into your lane. With my hands on the wheel, I could feel the slight adjustment and turn back into my lane. I know some may be thinking this seems really dangerous, especially at highway speeds, but it’s actually very subtle and works extremely well. I purposely drifted out of my lane a few times to see how the lane assist works and an alert message popped up on the instrument panel suggesting I get some rest with an image of a cup of coffee. Very cool.
Intelligent Cruise Control
The intelligent cruise control worked extremely well. I just set how many car lengths I wanted in front of me and the MKT slowed down accordingly if cars slowed down ahead. If traffic slowed quickly, the MKT even applied the brakes. Basically, this MKT can get very close to driving itself on the freeway. All you need to do is steer and the lane assist is damn near taking away that control from the driver.
I didn’t get to try the automatic parallel parking but I’ve heard it’s completely hands free. In fact, the only input from the driver is braking. Call me a purist, but I like to believe if you can’t parallel park a car you shouldn’t be driving.
Back to gadgets, I especially liked the little light indicators in my side view mirrors indicating another car was in my blind spot and the rear sensors that look to the side as well as behind me when backing out of a parking space. This came in especially handy one day when a car was speeding through a parking lot, as I was backing out of a space, and an audible alert warned me that a car was approaching from the left way before I could see it.
Setting up a Bluetooth phone was a snap and callers could hear me very well through the integrated microphone. In my opinion, Ford and Lincoln have always done an excellent job with phone integration and I liked that I could easily play music from my iPhone via wireless Bluetooth connection.
Split LCD Screen
Another nice technical feature was the ability to split the LCD screen into four elements at once: Navigation, Stereo, Climate Control and Phone. By touching any of these four sections, I could increase the view to full screen. Most of the time, however, the split screens allowed me to see everything I needed.
And if that wasn’t enough, there are two other information screens to the left and right of the speedometer that you can customize and control from the steering wheel buttons. I always felt there was plenty of information within eyesight and just a touch of a button away for more customization.
The only real negative I had about all these interior technical features is the navigation system. I found it extremely frustrating at times because I’d enter an address and then go to the city entry only to find it erased my address entry and had me start all over again. This happened many times and when you did finally get what you wanted on the screen, the adjustments happen so fast that when you click on where your correct city is (for the input address) the screen changes before your finger reaches where your input selection was and you end up clicking the wrong city and have to start all over again.
I tried using the voice activated navigation and it worked a little better but many times had trouble understanding what I was saying so I finally quit trying to use the system because I was driving my family nuts. Maybe with some more time, I could’ve figured more of this out but it certainly wasn’t as intuitive as the rest of the features.
For storing cargo, bikes, surfboards and the like, the MKT has made adjusting the seats for stowing capacity a breeze. Just a push of the button and you can get the third row to automatically stow itself which gives you 17.9 cubic feet behind the second row. With both second and third rows down, you get a very healthy 75.9 cubic feet to carry cargo but you’ll only have first row seating. My test vehicle had bucket seats and an optional refrigeration compartment between the second row seats. You can also get a second row bench configuration that ups your passenger capacity from six to seven.
From a safety standpoint, the MKT doesn’t disappoint at all. As mentioned earlier, the rear parking sensors are a big aid in a parking lot but you also get a rear view camera, traction control, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags covering all three rows. The second row seat belts are inflatable or “airbag fortified” for both standard and EcoBoost trims. And for parents with teenage drivers, there’s a standard MyKey feature that restricts wheelspin, vehicle speed and volume. Lincoln’s Sync system also offers emergency crash notification that automatically dials 911 when an airbag is deployed.
All said, the 2013 Lincoln MKT is a very formidable competitor to Acura, Audi and Mercedes SUVs and crossovers. At $58,045, my vehicle had most of the bells and whistles but it will certainly give many a little sticker shock. But in this day and age where technology and safety meet, the extra dollars to have peace of mind you are driving one of the most technically advanced vehicles on the planet may be well worth it.
Model: MKT EcoBoost
Base price: $47,280
As tested: $58,045
Horsepower: 355 Hp @ 5700 rpm
Torque: 350 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 6.3 seconds (Edmunds test)
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Available
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 16/23 mpg city/highway
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