Full 2011 Lincoln MKT Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011, the optional voice-activated navigation system now includes a complimentary three-year subscription to Sync's new Traffic Directions and Information service.
If you're of a certain age, you'll likely recall a time when the Lincoln brand was the epitome of automotive style and sophistication. Fast-forward a few decades and you'll find hints of those glory days in the 2011 Lincoln MKT luxury crossover.
Look beneath the MKT's controversial sheet metal and you'll find it to be a gussied-up version of Ford's highly competent Flex crossover. That's not a bad thing, as the MKT brings to the party a confident driving demeanor, a refined ride, a clever seating arrangement, an available 355-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine and a plethora of cutting-edge technology like the optional automatic parking system. Meanwhile, the cabin has been enhanced with high-quality materials, a classy design and plenty of sound-deadening materials.
The MKT is not without its faults, however. The sloping rear roof line results in a significant lack of headroom for third-row passengers even though the Flex-based seating arrangement allows for plenty of legroom. Then there's the styling, which judging by reactions, seems to be a design only its designer can love.
Yet, perhaps the biggest hurdle the MKT has to overcome is the sheer number of excellent competitors on the market, including luxury crossovers like the 2011 Acura MDX, 2011 Buick Enclave and 2011 Lexus RX 350, while the pricey EcoBoost must contend with vehicles like the 2011 Audi Q7, 2011 BMW X5 and Land Rover LR4. All that said, the 2011 Lincoln MKT is at least a step in the right direction toward restoring the Lincoln brand to its former glory.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Lincoln MKT is a crossover luxury SUV offered in two trim levels: MKT and MKT with EcoBoost. Standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic and adaptive xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, rear parking sensors and a power liftgate. Inside, you'll find leather seating, 12-way heated and ventilated power front seats, heated outboard second-row seats, power-adjustable pedals, driver memory settings, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, tri-zone automatic climate control, retractable second-row sunshades, a rear 110-volt power outlet and an 8-inch touchscreen that displays audio and climate controls and the image from the standard rearview camera. On the entertainment front there is a 10-speaker audio system with a 10-gigabyte hard drive, satellite radio and the Sync system that offers voice control for MP3 players and cell phones. The EcoBoost adds a more powerful engine, different steering and 20-inch wheels.
The Elite package adds a panoramic sunroof, a blind-spot warning system, power-folding third-row seats, a 14-speaker surround-sound audio system and a voice-operated navigation system that includes Sirius Travel Link. Both MKT models can also be decked out with adaptive cruise control, a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system and second-row heated and ventilated captain's chairs (which drops seating capacity from seven to six). The MKT EcoBoost can be further equipped with Ford's automatic parking system and a second-row console with refrigerator when equipped with captain's chairs.
Powertrains and Performance
Entry-level MKT models get a 3.7-liter V6 that puts out 268 hp and 267 pound-feet of torque. It's connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature that can be accessed via steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. Front-wheel drive is standard, and with it estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. Optional all-wheel drive reduces fuel economy to 16/22/18.
The MKT EcoBoost is blessed with a more muscular, twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that puts out an impressive 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. The same six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system are standard. Estimated fuel economy is 16/21/18. In performance testing, the MKT EcoBoost went from zero to 60 mph in a swift 6.3 seconds.
The 2011 Lincoln MKT comes standard with electronic stability control, antilock disc brakes, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags that cover all three rows.
The Collision Warning with Brake Support system comes as part of the optional adaptive cruise control. This system flashes a warning on the windshield when sensors detect slower-moving traffic ahead and then precharges the brake system to reduce braking distances for an ensuing panic stop. In a panic stop, our testing showed the MKT went from 60 to zero in an acceptable distance of 127 feet.
Other useful safety features include a rearview camera, a blind spot monitor and a Cross Traffic Alert system. Sync also now has an emergency crash notification feature that will automatically dial 911 in the event of an airbag deployment. Finally, parents will want to take note of the MyKey feature, which allows mom and dad to set limits on top speed and audio system volume for their teen drivers.
Finally, the 2011 Lincoln MKT earned perfect scores in governmental frontal and side-impact crash tests, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the MKT its best score of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The MKT's interior can be had in your choice of six- or seven-passenger configurations. Either way, the cabin sports handsome styling and upscale materials including leather upholstery and genuine wood trim. The optional six-passenger seating configuration trades the fixed 60/40-split second-row bench for a pair of sliding captain's chairs that increases legroom for third-row passengers. Add the second-row center console with a built-in refrigerator/freezer and front headrest-mounted DVD screens and you'll be traveling in limolike style.
The standard two-person split-folding third-row seat is not nearly as enjoyable a place to be, however, thanks to its distinct shortage of headroom. In fact, buyers looking for maximum seating capacity would do well to check out the Buick Enclave, which offers room for up to eight passengers, or the MKT's Ford Flex cousin, which has enough headroom for 6-footers.
In terms of cargo space, the MKT's 76 cubic feet of maximum cargo room is about average for a large luxury crossover, but less than what's offered by the Enclave or Flex.
As large luxury people movers go, the 2011 Lincoln MKT is a pleasure to drive. The steering feels reasonably responsive whether you get the hydraulic version found in the base car or the EcoBoost's electric power steering. The suspension delivers the refined ride quality you'd expect from a luxury vehicle and very respectable handling. However, the MKT's substantial size and weight make the driving experience somewhat less than sporty. The MKT EcoBoost V6 provides plenty of acceleration at virtually any speed, thanks in part to the six-speed automatic transmission's smooth shifts.