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2010 Lincoln MKT Preview

2010 Lincoln MKT Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2009

Critical Knowledge:
  • Luxury crossover SUV
  • Three-row seating for 6 or 7 passengers
  • Standard 3.7-liter V-6 engine
  • Available 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 engine
  • Standard panoramic glass roof
  • Available adaptive cruise control
  • Available Active Park Assist
  • Available blind-spot information system
  • Available rear-seat refrigerator
  • Available dual-headrest rear-seat entertainment system
  • MyKey programmable features to limit stereo volume and vehicle speed
  • Built in Ontario, Canada
  • On sale in late summer of 2009
Introduction
In late 1997, the first 1998 Lincoln Navigator arrived in showrooms to satisfy increasing consumer demand for luxurious SUVs. In the ensuing decade, customer preferences shifted from traditional, truck-based SUVs to car-based crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) and Lincoln changed course right along with them, bringing the MKX to market for 2007. But the Lincoln MKX can hold only 5 passengers when some luxury CUV buyers want a third row for two additional people or a more generous cargo area. The new 2010 Lincoln MKT answers this need, based on the same platform as the Ford Flex but equipped with significantly different styling inside and out, unique engines, and exclusive technology.

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Design
The 2010 MKT reflects Lincoln's latest design language, the focal points being a large split-waterfall grille framed by thin headlights, strong shoulder character lines, a flowing roofline, and full-width horizontal taillights. Lincoln also says the MKT displays "world-class panel margins," an effort designed to give the new crossover a quality, upscale appearance. The result successfully distances the MKT from the boxy Ford Flex, with which it shares a platform and under-the-skin engineering.

Inside, Lincoln says the MKT "delivers a new level of quiet confidence [and] best-in-class levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) control." The MKT's interior features an acrylic instrument cluster, LED gauge lighting, floating front armrests, and what Lincoln says are quality, upscale materials to impart a luxurious and modern ambience.


Model Lineup
Lincoln will offer the new MKT in one level of trim, with several options. Standard features include an Easy Fuel capless fuel filler system, leather upholstery, heated second-row outboard seating positions, 7-passenger seating capacity, a fixed-glass Panoramic Vista Roof, and Intelligent Access with Push Button Start, among other standard items. New side mirrors have a convex strip at the top that allows the driver to see the MKT's blind spots better, and the new crossover also features Lincoln's long-standing SecuriCode feature, which lets the driver access the vehicle without a key by inputting a security code using a keypad embedded into the door frame.

The MKT also features adaptive headlights that swivel the HID headlamps to better illuminate curves and turns, paired with an automatic high beam lighting system that monitors traffic and automatically switches between high and low beams depending on how far the MKT is from vehicles ahead. Lincoln says a reversing camera system is also available.

Among the Lincoln MKT's numerous options are a Power Panoramic Vista Roof that opens to glass to the sky, second-row heated and cooled captain's chairs with power lumbar support and a power fold-and-tumble feature, and a center console that sweeps from the dashboard, between the front seats to the captain's chairs and includes a rear 5-quart refrigerator between the two second-row seats. There's also a dual-headrest entertainment system with 7-inch screens and individual or simultaneous programming capability.


Hardware
Though the Lincoln MKT and Ford Flex are siblings under the sheetmetal, the powertrains are different. As the standard engine, the Lincoln has a slightly larger, 3.7-liter V-6 with a little more power and torque than the Ford, making an estimated 268 hp at 6500 rpm and 267 lb.-ft. of torque at 4250 rpm. According to Ford, this engine provides segment-leading fuel economy at 24 mpg highway, and "best-in-class NVH control."

Lincoln will offer an optional engine on the MKT-Ford Motor Company's EcoBoost powertrain, which aims to provide V-8 power and acceleration with V-6 fuel economy. This new 3.5-liter, direct-injection, twin-turbo V-6 engine will make an estimated 355 hp at 5700 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. torque at 3500 rpm.

Both engines are paired to a 6-speed SelectShift transmission with manual paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel. With the standard 3.7-liter V-6 engine, power is sent to the front wheels, or all four wheels if equipped with the MKT's optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. Every MKT equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine will have the AWD system, which, unlike some competitors, automatically transfers torque from front to rear but does not distribute the power side-to-side on the same axle.

With regard to ride and handling, Lincoln made a concerted effort to reduce front-end lift on acceleration, offer confidence-inspiring steering and handling, and deliver a luxurious ride quality, the company says. Lincoln's Chief Engineer, Ron Heiser, said, "It combines a luxury touring experience with an agile ride."


Safety
Standard safety features for the 2010 Lincoln MKT include what buyers expect on any luxury vehicle. The MKT has dual front, dual front side-impact, and three-row side curtain air bags with rollover detection and protection. It's also equipped with ABS, traction control, rollover sensing stability control, and an SOS Post Crash Alert system which automatically unlocks the doors, sounds the horn, and activates the flashers in the event of an air bag deployment. Furthermore, the MKT's underlying structure is specially fortified to deflect crash energy away from the passenger cabin, and is optimized to provide side-impact protection, the company says.

Three new, available safety features on the 2010 Lincoln MKT require special mention: adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot information system, and the most interesting of the three, MyKey.

The 2010 MKT's adaptive cruise control system includes Collision Warning with Brake Support. In cruise control mode, a radar sensor monitors traffic and automatically maintains a safe distance from vehicles ahead. If the cruise control is disengaged, the radar sensor continues to monitor traffic. When it senses that traffic is slowing and the MKT is closing on traffic at an unsafe rate of speed, it provides a visual heads-up warning across the base of the windshield and an audible warning to alert the driver. The system also readies the braking system and engages the brake assist feature to help the driver stop as quickly as possible when the brake pedal is depressed.

The blind-spot information system monitors when adjacent motorists are in the car's blind spots and provides a visual warning to the driver in the side-view mirror. The system also includes a Cross Traffic Alert feature, which identifies approaching traffic within three car lengths when the MKT is slowly backing out of a parking spot.

MyKey technology is new and innovative. It allows vehicle owners to activate restricted driving modes associated with seat belt usage, low-fuel monitoring, and ensure the continuous engagement of safety features like the stability control system, blind-spot information system, and Collision Warning with Brake Support feature. It also lets mom and dad program limits on audio volume and a top speed of 80 mph, providing an extra level of comfort and security when teenagers are in possession of the keys.


Technology
Truly, the 2010 Lincoln MKT is a rolling showcase of Ford Motor Company's current technological capability. In addition to the safety features already discussed, the MKT is available with several convenience and entertainment technologies.

The optional Active Park Assist system is designed to help the driver parallel park. Similar to a feature Lexus offers, the Lincoln design employs ultrasonic sonar instead of cameras to make "hands-free parallel parking a breeze," according to Lincoln. It works with the touch of a button, requires less driver programming than competitive systems, reduces the risk of choosing an inappropriately sized parking space, and better detects the edges of adjacent objects when automatically steering the MKT into a space while coaching the driver through throttle and braking inputs. It also operates on hills, unlike the competition's technology.

While the MKT negotiates parking, the driver can enjoy a THX II Certified 5.1 Surround Sound system. This 14-speaker stereo includes Neural Surround technology to improve the aural quality of compressed digital music, and comes with a Jukebox hard drive capable of storing up to 150 hours of audio entertainment. Through Gracenotes, details about the stored music appear on the dashboard navigation screen.

The available voice-activated navigation system includes an 8-inch screen with a bird's-eye-view feature and 3D landmarks. The screen can also be programmed to display up to 32 uploaded photos, thanks to 1.5 MB of storage capacity. Other features include street name announcements, detailed freeway exit and turn information, and lane-position guidance. The navigation system also comes with Sirius Travel Link for current weather conditions, 5-day forecasts, local fuel prices, sports scores, movie listings, and more.

The 2010 Lincoln MKT includes the next-generation version of Lincoln Sync, including 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report features. Sync connects to iPods, PDAs, memory sticks, MP3 players, and Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, allowing hands-free, voice-activated operation of these items. The 911 Assist system places a call to a local emergency operator in the event of air bag deployment, to help speed rescue and medical attention. Sync also includes a new Traffic, Directions and Information service with turn-by-turn route guidance as well as information based on region and subject matter.

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