The Lincoln MKT concept vehicle debuting at the 2008 Detroit auto show is a follow-up to the Lincoln MKR concept that bowed one year ago, at the 2007 Detroit auto show. While the MKR was a sleekly modern sedan, the MKT is a crossover utility, and it's based on the vehicle architecture that underpins the upcoming Ford Flex crossover, although it looks nothing like the Flex. Ford's North American design chief, Peter Horbury, calls the Lincoln MKT "the Lear jet of the road, a vehicle we see both for the executive dashing around Manhattan and for a family loading up for a trip." Whereas the MKR sedan had large "haunches" in its front fenders, in the MKT they move to the rear wheels, giving the vehicle a rear-wheel-drive sort of stance, even though the Flex architecture is front-wheel drive.
Horbury likens the MKT's dramatic rear end to the bustleback styling of limousines from long ago. "It's like a yacht sailing through," is how he describes the reverse-prow point of the tailgate. Fourteen-spoke, 21-inch wheels, a dramatic waterfall grille, and strong shoulder lines reminiscent of 1970s Lincolns complete the stunning exterior profile. The MKT (T is for touring) makes use of lighter-weight materials for some of the body panels, the glass, and the wiring harnesses, including reconstituted polyester from soda bottles.
Inside, four spacious seats in two rows are followed by a cavernous cargo area that would almost certainly accommodate a small, limited-use third-row seat if a version of the Lincoln MKT were to make it to production. Shiny aluminum cargo rails rise from the floor to subdivide the cargo compartment, and the entire floor of the vehicle is lined with an environmentally friendly, silky green carpet made of banana leaves and other parts of the banana tree. Rear passengers get a large entertainment screen that rotates dramatically from the ceiling, and the 3D information screen in the center stack could be likened to a supersized iPod phone screen.
"With the MKT, we are asking ourselves, `What is the future of luxury?' says Horbury. The MKT is production feasible, and it's a direction in which we can take the brand. This vehicle helps us emphasize that Lincoln is back."
It's not difficult to imagine that a derivation of the MKT will make it to production before the end of the decade. If it does, its natural place in the Lincoln SUV/crossover family would be above the MKX (the Ford Edge twin that is selling quite well) and below the Navigator.