Full 2012 Lincoln MKT Review
What's New for 2012
Other than the discontinuation of all-wheel drive for the base model and a $3,000 price drop for the EcoBoost model, the 2012 Lincoln MKT carries over unchanged.
Fifty years ago, the high style of Lincoln's long, low-slung land yachts inspired middle-class Americans to dreams of achievement. The brand was the epitome of automotive sophistication. A half-century later, after decades of management miscues, models like the 2012 Lincoln MKT luxury crossover carry the hopes of burnishing the brand's legacy for a new era and a new buyer.
Beneath the MKT's "distinctive" sheet metal -- more than a few people wouldn't use such a positive adjective -- are the body structure and running gear of the Ford Flex crossover. While badge engineering is one of the reasons why Lincoln is in such a depressed state to begin with, being based off the Flex isn't really a bad thing. Many positive attributes shine through, including a confident driving attitude, a refined ride, an available 355-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine and cutting-edge technology. The cabin, meanwhile, has been enhanced with high-quality leather, a classy design and plenty of material to deaden the road's abrasive soundtrack.
The main problem with the MKT is that form trumps function, as its sloping roof line significantly chops headroom for third-row passengers, even though the Flex-based seating arrangement allows for plenty of legroom. Price might also be an issue, as the MKT often costs the same or even more than competing models. Even so, the MKT fares well as an alternative to the Acura MDX, Buick Enclave or Lexus RX 350. On the high end, the BMW X5 and Land Rover LR4 also compete. The MKT doesn't really raise the bar for the segment, but it is at least a step forward toward restoring the Lincoln brand to its former glory.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 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, a rearview camera and a power liftgate. Inside the cabin, you'll find leather upholstery, eight-way heated and ventilated power front seats (includes four-way power lumbar), heated second-row seats (outboard only), 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. A 10-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio and the Sync system that offers voice control for MP3 players and cell phones comprise the standard entertainment system.
The Elite package (EcoBoost only) 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 with Sirius Travel Link. Other options include a dual-screen rear-entertainment system and sliding second-row captain's chairs that are heated and ventilated (and that also drop seating capacity from seven to six). The MKT EcoBoost can be further equipped with 20-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, an automatic parallel-parking system and, when equipped with second-row rear captain's chairs, a console with refrigerator.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard MKT models get a 3.7-liter V6 making 268 hp and 267 pound-feet of torque, connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift option using steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. Estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined.
The MKT EcoBoost receives a more muscular twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 making 355 hp and 350 lb-ft. A six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system are standard. Estimated EPA fuel economy is 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. In Edmunds performance testing, the MKT EcoBoost accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, a swift result for this segment.
The 2012 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 pre-charges the brake system to reduce braking distances for an ensuing panic stop. In a panic stop during Edmunds testing, the MKT slowed 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 offers emergency crash notification that automatically dials 911 in the event of an airbag deployment. Parents will also want to note the MyKey feature, which allows restrictions on vehicle speed and audio volume for teen drivers.
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the MKT was awarded the highest possible score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The MKT's interior is available in six- or seven-passenger configurations, and either way offers handsome styling and upscale materials including leather upholstery and genuine wood trim. The optional six-passenger configuration trades the 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 refrigerator and headrest-mounted DVD screens and you're traveling in limo-class luxury.
The standard two-passenger third row is not nearly as enjoyable a place to be, because the headroom is compromised by the sloping roof line. Buyers looking for maximum seating capacity should check the Buick Enclave, which offers room for up to eight passengers, or even the Ford Flex, which has enough room for 6-footers. The MKT offers up 76 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, which is competitive, though below average for a large luxury crossover.
As large luxury people movers go, the 2012 Lincoln MKT is a pleasure to drive. Steering feels reasonably responsive whether assisted by hydraulic or electric power steering, the latter found on the EcoBoost model. The suspension delivers the refined ride quality expected of a luxury vehicle and very respectable handling, although the MKT's size and weight make it anything but sporting. The MKT EcoBoost V6 provides plenty of acceleration at virtually any speed, thanks in part to the six-speed automatic transmission's smooth shifts.