First Drive: 2010 Lincoln MKT

EcoBoost: The Ford Motor Company's Rallying Cry
The 2010 Lincoln MKT is available with a normally aspirated, 3.7-liter V-6, but the real story here is the optional EcoBoost powertrain, which uses direct injection and twin turbocharging to transform Ford's 3.5-liter V-6 into a 355-hp powerhouse that effectively competes with a V-8 engine but with, Ford claims, the fuel economy of a V-6. It's mated to a new, six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle shift.

We were allowed a few laps of Ford's high-speed, five-mile-long track at the Michigan Proving Ground. The EcoBoost V-6 provides plenty of power and torque to propel the 5000-lb MKT with poise, and it even sounds pretty good when you leg it, although of course it lacks the satisfying throatiness of a V-8. There's virtually no turbo lag, just a steady, linear stream of power. Peak torque arrives early, at only 1500 rpm, and the torque plateau continues well past 5000 rpm. Acceleration from 35 mph to 60 mph is immediate and rapid, and the MKT keeps on keeping on for the 60-to-100-mph sprint. We can't imagine anyone ever calling this vehicle underpowered. Although you can put the gear selector in M for manual mode and then use the paddles to shift, in our brief experience we didn't find them particularly easy or intuitive to use. And with all this power and torque just a tap of your toe away, why shift for yourself, anyway?

On the road
The MKT is pretty quiet inside but it suffers from some wind noise at the A-pillars (admittedly, it was very windy during our drive). Ride comfort is commendable, and the vehicle gracefully handled a variety of small, medium, and large bumps, dips, and other intentional road-surface imperfections built into Ford's durability test track, with no undue axle hop or lateral chassis movements. There's a decent amount of steering feel, although no one will mistake the MKT for a BMW X5, and while body roll is reasonably well-suppressed, the MKT suffers from a bit of fore-and-aft bobbing when you really push it on rough roads. Additionally, the brake pedal is too spongy for our tastes, an affliction the MKT shares with its MKS sibling.

A highly credible crossover
Not considering its powertrain, the MKT is itself an admirable effort from Lincoln: distinctively designed, opulently appointed, and brimming with the features that luxury buyers expect. Add in the new EcoBoost powertrain, and the MKT is even more attractive, as it boasts V-8-like power but should return V-6-style fuel economy, up to 22 mpg on the highway. These merits add a desirable new model to the Lincoln stable and should put the MKT on the shopping list of anyone looking for a luxury, seven-passenger crossover.

2010 Lincoln MKT

Base price range (estimated): $45,000-$55,000
Engine: Twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 355 hp @ 5700 rpm
Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Front- or all-wheel

Measurements

L x W x H: 207.6 x 85.7 x 67.4 in
Legroom F/M/R: 41.3/41.8/33.0 in
Headroom F/M/R: 40.1/38.8/33.5 in
Cargo capacity (behind third/middle/front seats): 17.9/39.6/75.9 cu ft
Curb Weight: 4924 lb

Estimated EPA Rating (city/highway): 16/22 mpg

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