2011 Lincoln MKT Review

2011 Lincoln MKT - Line-topping Lincoln makes a statement.


Vehicle Tested
2011 Lincoln MKT EcoBoost
Base Price: $49,200
At-Tested Price: $57,775
Built in Canada.

Rapid Spec Package 201A (Elite Package, Voice-Activated Navigation System, THX Surround Sound, Panoramic Sunroof)
Active Park Assist
Second-Row Bucket Seats
Refrigerator Console
Adaptive Cruise Control
Collision Warning
P225/45R20 Tires

Engine: Turbocharged 3.5-Liter V6
Six-Speed Automatic

Drive Wheels: All-Wheel Drive

Lincoln introduced the MKT in 2010 as a midsize crossover SUV that seats up to seven passengers and is designed to compete with vehicles like the Acura MDX, Buick Enclave, Land Rover LR4, and Mercedes-Benz R-Class. MKT is Lincoln's largest vehicle and slots into the luxury-brand's line up above the five-passenger MKX.

Like other crossover SUVs, the MKT is more high-riding wagon than it is off-road vehicle, but it does offer available all-wheel drive. MKT comes standard with front bucket seats, split-folding three-place second-row seats and a split-folding two-passenger third-row bench. Optional are second-row bucket seats with a center console.

Thought the MKT shares some drivetrain and chassis components with the Ford Flex, the two are styled very differently and aim at different markets with different price points. Two models are offered, Base and EcoBoost. The base is powered by a 270-horsepower 3.7-liter engine and comes with front- or all-wheel drive. EcoBoost gets a 355-horsepower turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and is all-wheel-drive only. Sole transmission for both models is a six-speed automatic. Maximum towing capacity when properly equipped is 4500 pounds.

Standard safety features on both models includes antilock four-wheel disc brakes, stability control, post-crash alert, tire-pressure indicator, rear-obstacle-detection system, rear-view camera and dual-front, front-side and curtain-side airbags. Also available are a collision, blind-spot and cross-traffic alert.

The Base lists for $44,200 with front-wheel drive and $46,195 with all-wheel drive. It includes air conditioning with tri-zone automatic climate controls, interior air filter, power tilt-telescope wood/leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated/cooled twelve-way power front seats with lumbar adjustment, power-adjustable pedals, memory system, center console, wood interior trim, heated power mirrors with integrated turn signals and driver-side automatic day/night, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, keypad entry, sunroof and rear fixed-glass panel, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with satellite radio and hard drive, rain-sensing variable-intermittent wipers, rearview camera, universal garage door opener, automatic day/night rearview mirror, compass, illuminated visor mirrors, 110-volt power outlet, side sunshades, cargo cover, rear defogger, power liftgate, rear wiper/washer, automatic and self-dimming headlights, floormats, theft-deterrent system, rear spoiler, rear privacy glass, steering-linked adaptive xenon headlights, fog lights, 235/55R19 tires and alloy wheels.

MKT EcoBoost lists for $49,200 and adds to the Base AWD 255/45R20 tires and polished alloy wheels. Options include hands-free parallel parking, adaptive cruise control, power-folding and heated/cooled second-row seats, refrigerated console and dual-screen DVD entertainment system. MKT is built in Ford's Oakville, Ontario, Canada, assembly plant and has a destination charge of $795.

Get Up and Go  Though the MKT tips the scales at a portly 4,900 pounds, the EcoBoost engine will push it from 0 to 60 mph in a remarkable 6.5 seconds. That's as quick or quicker than most competitors. There is some turbo lag--delay in power delivery--when pulling out for two-lane passing, but overall, power delivery is quick and purposeful.

The six-speed automatic upshifts smoothly, but seems to pause longer than usual when downshifting. It also downshifts when the vehicle comes to a stop. This isn't unusual, but it is more noticeable in MKT and becomes annoying over time.

Lincoln claims one of the benefits of the EcoBoost engine is that it offers the performance of a V8 with the economy of a V6. There's little doubt that the performance is robust and the EPA numbers of 16 mpg city and 21 mpg fall just short of the class leading Buick Enclave's 16/22 rating. Lincoln says the EcoBoost is designed to run on regular-grade gas, though the company recommends premium for best performance.

Real-world driving is likely to yield about 20 mpg in an even mix of city and highway driving. Daily commuters will likely see that number to drop into the high teens.

On the Road  MKT is a large vehicle with long wheelbase and absorbent suspension. That combo creates a serene and comfortable ride that's never harsh or bouncy. The suspension is firm enough to control secondary body motions while still soft enough to minimize hard impacts.

Even though it's a land yacht, MKT is surprisingly easy to drive and feels almost nimble. In part, that's due to the accurate and nicely weighted steering, but it's also thanks to tightly controlled body motions and minimal roll in turns. Overall, it isn't as maneuverable as Acura's MDX or the Mercedes-Benz R-Class, it strikes a good balance between ride comfort and handling prowess.

Though wind noise is low, road rumble is higher than expected--especially for rear-seat passengers. Also, the EcoBoost engine isn't as refined in hard acceleration as some competitor's V6 and V8 offerings.

Behind the Wheel  MKT's interior is a welcome and dramatic departure from Lincoln's traditional designs. Materials are upscale and the look is fresh and functional. Wood and metal bright work are a nice touch, but the painted plastic center stack disappoints.

Driver's face clearly marked gauges and a well thought out control layout. Audio and climate system controls are placed high on the center console as are the controls for the optional navigation system.

Front seats are lounge-chair comfortable and supportive. Head and leg room are quite good. Drivers should be able to get quite relaxed with standard tilt-telescope steering wheel and power-adjustable pedals. Visibility aft is hampered by thick pillars and a narrow rear window. Thankfully blind-spot alert and a rear-view camera are available.

Second-row bucket seats are quite comfortable and offer adult-size head and leg room. Opting for the standard bench means less comfort, but ups passenger capacity to seven. Third-row seats are decent size, but don't offer enough room for long-trip adult comfort. Also getting back there is a twist and turn exercise.

Cargo space is minivan like, meaning there's a deep well behind the third-row seats and a large and flat floor when those seats are stowed. The second-row seats fold, but not quite flat and are best tipped forward--though that leaves a dip in the floor. The power-fold feature is nice, but excruciatingly slow. Interior storage is plentiful and the available console cooler is a nice touch on longer trips.

Bottom Line  Though the world doesn't need another luxury seven-passenger crossover, the MKT is certainly a nice one that should suit American tastes to a "T". Pluses include a powerful engine, decent fuel economy, high-rent interior, and lots of passenger and cargo room. On the downside, MKT isn't as refined as some more-seasoned competitors--though you have to give Lincoln a couple of years to catch up.

As you'd expect, the MKT isn't cheap. Starting north of $45,000, the MKT is playing against some elite company and should be available with some discounts. That said, it's a quality people mover with all the right moves.

Specifications, 2011 Lincoln MKT EcoBoost
4-door wagon
Turbocharged DOHC V6
Wheelbase, in.
Size, liters/cu. in.
3.5 / 213
Length, in.
Horsepower @ rpm
355 @ 5700
Width, in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm
350 @ 1500
Height, in.
6-Speed Automatic
Weight, lbs.
4899EPA Estimates, mpg
16 city / 21 highway
Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.
Fuel Capacity, gals.
Manufacturer's Warranty
Seating Capacity
4 years / 50,000 miles
Front Head Room, in.
6 years / 70,000 miles
Front Leg Room, in.
5 years / Unlimited miles
Second-Row Head Room, in.
Free Roadside Assistance
6 years / 70,000 miles
Second-Row Leg Room, in.
Free Scheduled Maintenance
1 year / 12,000 miles

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.