As part of a thorough rebranding effort, Ford Motor Co. recently announced a name-change for their hurting luxury-division. Now called the Lincoln Motor Co., the automaker aims to get back to its roots, producing upscale models with obvious yet attractive differences when compared to lower-priced platform-mates from Ford. With models like the Lincoln MKT, they are well on their way.
While sharing a unibody platform with the Ford Flex and Explorer, the MKT wears a unique body-style that accomplishes Lincoln’s goal of standing out from its’ blue-oval cousins. Though not a new model (it was first introduced as a 2010), Lincoln’s SUV/crossover has been refreshed inside and out for 2013. Most notably (and improved), is the refined front grille that fits the nose of the MKT more elegantly than in years past. The drivetrain in the pricier of two available trims remains unchanged, featuring all-wheel drive and a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 providing 365 hp.
However, the front-wheel drive base model is now more powerful with 35 extra horses than last year, pushing the standard 3.7L V6 up to 303 hp. In addition, a list of technology upgrades are offered for 2013 like a new version of the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system and lane-keeping assist for enhanced safety. As already seen on other Lincoln/Ford models, inflatable safety belts are available for the second-row to keep latches from annoyingly slipping behind the seat-cushion. With this option, when either of the rear side-doors is opened, a bag in the outboard seat on that same side will inflate, causing the latch to slowly protrude from the seat-cushion for convenient access.
No matter the name, the Lincoln Motor Co. and 2013 MKT face strong competition within the young but important luxury midsize SUV/crossover segment. Acura's MDX shares many characteristics with the Lincoln MKT including powerful engines, lively handling, and small third-rows. Both the MDX and MKT offer nice value, yet the Acura’s sheet metal does not cause the instant hate-it-or-love-it sensation like that of the Lincoln. For buyers needing to fit adults in the third-row, the Mercedes-Benz M-class offers plenty of space but asks a higher price. Technology-buffs will be at home inside the Infiniti JX, unlike lead-foots, who may feel held back.
Like the man the automaker was named after, Lincoln Motor Co. has decided they must be honest if they want to stay relevant in the industry. After years of selling what seemed to only be higher-priced, rebadged Fords, a Lincoln is once again a Lincoln, and the MKT is proof.
Though not as powerful, the front-wheel drive MKT offers better fuel-mileage than the costlier EcoBoost, with 17 city/25 highway mpg coming from its 3.7L V6 and six-speed transmission. 19” painted aluminum wheels are wrapped in all-season tires and kept in-check by four ventilated disc brakes. Automatic HID headlamps pierce through the dark while standard fog lights help when the nighttime air gets thick. A power liftgate, rearview camera and reverse sensing system round out the exterior features. Moving to the inside, front bucket seats are heated and cooled plus have 12-way power adjust. Second-row passengers buckle-in to a 60/40 split fold-flat seat featuring power release for the 40-section. The base MKT comes with a 10-speaker audio system and SiriusXM trial subscription.
An upgraded drivetrain is not the only reason for stepping up to the EcoBoost, as many luxurious features are added as well. A 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque engine is not nearly as costly at the pump as one would expect with Ford’s twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6. While less than the base MKT, the EcoBoost still delivers 16 city/ 23 highway mpg; all-wheel drive included. An adaptive suspension is installed along with Lincoln Drive Control, which allows the owner to choose between Normal, Sport or Comfort driving modes. The Elite Package comes standard consisting of a power-folding third-row, blind spot monitor and navigation system. Also included is a heated steering wheel and 14-speaker THX II audio system with subwoofer and 14-channel amplifier.
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