Start getting used to seeing unusual vehicle designs, such as Lincoln’s formidably sized 2010 MKT crossover.
As the auto industry scrambles to figure out what to give versatility-seeking customers — now that large SUVs are just so environmentally incorrect and many think of minivans as uncool — exterior styling will push the envelope.
But then there’s a wrinkle: the luxury factor. Minivans have never been in luxury territory, so Lincoln didn’t have to worry about that. The 2010 MKT is Lincoln’s idea for a luxury utility vehicle that isn’t an SUV.
With each successive generation of crossover vehicles, the definition of “utility” gets murkier. Vehicles like the MKT — and Mercedes-Benz’s R-Class, which more or less pioneered this niche — are more about people carrying that outright hauling.
For example, there actually is an available towing package. But it’s probably not advisable because the MKT already has so much of itself to haul. Our front-wheel-drive tester with the 3.7-liter V-6 is the lightest of the MKT family at a swollen 4,680 pounds.
Along with the weight, you get size, too. The MKT’s wheelbase is only a couple inches shy of a Dodge Grand Caravan minivan — and the MKT’s 17-feet-plus of total length actually is 5 inches longer than the Chrysler Town & Country minivan.
Concerns about size and weight slip away when you hit the MKT’s adaptive cruise control and the highway miles glide away so effortlessly passengers might think they’re in a private jet. The MKT is orders of magnitude quieter than any aircraft. There’s a special sound-killing windshield and most noises are reduced to oiled hush.
Like most of the new breed of crossovers, it’s the second-row passengers who get the real rock-star treatment. There was so much opulent legroom in the MKT with a middle row configured for two that Lincoln supplies footrests. You’ll find separate climate controls and both bucket seats have power-reclining backs. There’s even an optional refrigerator.
Forward of the second-row lounge, the cockpit design may be conventional, but the level of fit-and-finish is the best we’ve seen in a domestic car of any price. The leather is plump and inviting and one outstanding touch is where the sweeping, raised lip of the passenger-side upper dash artfully overhangs a rich wood strip that blends into the door panel. The instrument lighting and the ambient lighting come via gorgeous LED glow.
The MKT’s third row offers low headroom for its two occupants, so better suited for tykes or as temporary transport for adults. The second and third rows fold completely flat to create a Hercules-class cargo hold.
The MKT’s husky 3.7-liter V-6 is surprisingly effective in moving all that metal. Add all-wheel-drive to get mid-range MKT. Go to the final level for the MKT with EcoBoost, whose main feature is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 that puts as much scoot under the MKT’s hulking bodywork as anybody could lawfully use. The EcoBoost model also includes all-wheel drive as standard and tighter settings for the independent suspension, although we thought the standard MKT buffaloed through quick back road corners with real poise.
Given the MKT’s magnificent interior and extensive list of technically advanced safety and convenience features, we might have been able to swallow our test car’s $52,180 as-tested price if it had included all-wheel drive and the rear DVD entertainment system, but those two features would have added about $4,000 to the price. Still, genuine luxo-SUVs can cost plenty more.
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Next New On Wheels: Nissan Murano
Next New On Wheels (3 Bonus Wheels): Infiniti G37x
2010 LINCOLN MKT
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 6-passenger full-size FWD CUV
BASE PRICE___________________ $44,200 (as tested: $52,180)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 24-valve DOHC V-6
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 268 at 6250 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 267 at 4250 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed automatic
WHEELBASE____________________ 117.9 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 207.6 in.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 4,680 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 18.6 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
HONDA ACCORD CROSSTOUR: The all-new 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour features a versatile 5-passenger interior with an innovative rear storage area, a 3.5-liter V-6 engine and available 4WD. The rear storage area features an innovative 8-inch deep under-floor Hidden Removable Utility Box with a reversible lid, featuring both plush-carpeted and durable-plastic sides. “Honda has a longstanding reputation for maximizing interior space and utility in its vehicles,” said Erik Berkman, a vice president at American Honda Motors. (Source: Honda)
DEAR AUTO DOCTOR: My Ford Windstar with a V-6 will not go over 80 mph. Why at 81 mph does the engine feel like it’s running out of fuel? Answer: Vehicles have both an engine rev and speed limiter. They can be speed-limited for many reasons, including tire-speed rating. To see if the vehicle is at the speed limit, do a hook up of a scan tool and fuel pressure tester to the dynamometer. Since your complaint is over the legal speed limit you are limited to dynamometer testing. (Source: Ask the Auto Doctor, Motor Matters)
AGE BEHAVIOR RESEARCH: Studies show that the age pattern of the world population is changing. The elderly of today live longer and are more active and healthier than before. This creates a higher demand for individual mobility than in previous generations. “Understanding the driver’s safety needs in the different stages of life is essential for us when designing our cars. Knowing what makes it easier for elderly drivers to handle the challenges that come with age is a very important part of that.” says Thomas Broberg, senior safety advisor at Volvo Cars.
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009