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Monday, January 12, 2009

2010 Lincoln MKT- and it might give the Pontiac Aztek a run for ugliest vehicle EVER!

What is it?
2010 Lincoln MKT

What's special about it?
If the measure of success in the platform-sharing game is the degree to which two (or more) vehicles don't look like each other, then the 2010 Lincoln MKT three-row crossover unveiled at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show is certainly a success.

You see, the MKT is the Lincoln version of the Ford Flex, but that's not obvious from looking at the two, either outside or in. And, at least for a little while, the MKT has engines not available in the Flex.

But first, the look. By now you've seen the split grille that's been added to every new Lincoln since the MKS. On the MKT it is, well, quite large. According to chief designer Gordon Platto, the MKT's big schnoz is the first time the new grille is as it was envisioned initially instead of a smaller version added to an existing design. This might explain the MKT's 6-inch increase in overall length compared to the Flex.

There are other elements to the MKT that Ford's design honcho Peter Horbury defines as characteristic elements of the new look of Lincoln. They include full-width taillights, a chamfer along the truck's beltline and, Lincoln assures us, a couple of other things. If the goal has been to make this vehicle look different from the Flex or any three-row crossover competitors, then Lincoln can consider this goal achieved. The haunch over the rear wheels and the bustle-back are going to take some getting used to. But we've got time. The MKT doesn't go on sale until late summer.

Underneath that curvy body is the familiar front- or all-wheel-drive Flex platform (itself a variation on the D platform that underpins the MKS). But for the Lincoln, the engineers retuned the shocks and springs for what they characterize as "rolling plushness." The MKT uses the same antiroll bars as the Flex, and Lincoln claims that achieving the new, softer ride quality has required no loss in steering of handling acuity compared to the Flex. Makes one wonder why the Flex didn't get that suspension tune then, right?

The MKT will be powered by the 3.7-liter V6 from the MKS sedan, which makes 268 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 267 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm. Buyers can opt for front- or all-wheel-drive configurations with the base motor. Along with the MKS, the 2010 MKT will be the first vehicle in the Ford family to get the so-called EcoBoost V6. It's a twin-turbo, direct-injection 3.5-liter that is estimated to deliver 355 hp and around 350 lb-ft of torque. The turbo motor is available only in the all-wheel-drive MKT. Every MKT will employ the same six-speed automatic transmission, which comes with shift paddles mounted to the steering wheel.

Lincoln says an MKT with the base motor should get 24 mpg on the highway. That's better than the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz R350 that Lincoln considers the MKT's main competitors.

Like the Flex, the MKT is available as a six- or seven-passenger vehicle. A bench seat is the standard second-row arrangement. And yes, the little second-row refrigerator is optional on the Lincoln, too. Lincoln makes standard a fixed glass roof similar to the Flex's; power operation is optional.

For the MKT, Ford has made available every electronic doodad in its growing arsenal of electronic doodads. Here we go: Active Park Assist (available only on MKTs with the EcoBoost motor); adaptive cruise control; push-button start; standard HID headlamps with an adaptive function so they swivel to light upcoming turns; automatic high beams that engage when no other vehicles are in range; MyKey, which allows parents to restrict the top speed of the vehicle as well as set a maximum volume for the audio system; blind spot warning information; rearview camera; Collision Warning with Brake Support, which uses the adaptive cruise control system to warn the driver of slower traffic ahead and pre-charges the brakes for a more aggressive stop; and, of course, the Sync hands-free communications and entertainment system. That, sir, is a lot of stuff.

Inside Line says: It might not seem the most opportune time to release a three-row crossover thingy, but it makes more sense in today's climate than a Navigator. —