What is it? Lincoln’s largest car-based SUV, the MKT is a relative of the Ford Flex and a much more modern design than the big truck-based Navigator. For 2013, the MKT acquires a series of electronic upgrades and a revised interior.
The MKT has three rows of seats, with the way-back best suited to a couple of kids. In the current model, the interior is roomy, plush, quiet, and comfortable, and we expect those qualities to carry on. We’ve had reservations about the driving position and visibility and don’t expect much improvement there with the latest update.
For 2013, the MKT gets ride and handling enhancements similar to those going into the smaller MKS. Now standard on the higher-trim EcoBoost version will be a continuously controlled damping system (CCD) that adjusts the shock absorbers many times per second in response to varying pavement conditions. Drivers can also adjust the ride quality with Normal and Sport settings on the gear selector. Those adjustments affect the steering and transmission response, as well as the ride. If the electronic enhancements work as advertised, then it may improve upon the current MKT, which is a bit lacking in agility and the ride has been pretty ordinary for an upscale vehicle.
The standard 3.7-liter V6 gets 32 more horsepower, bringing it up to 300. That could redress the current engine’s lackluster response. The up-level EcoBoost turbo 3.5-liter V6 remains at 355-hp, ample for this car. Lincoln says highway fuel economy for the 3.7L has modestly improved. The engines are mated to slightly different six-speed transmissions and both powertrains bring paddle shifters on the steering wheel for simulated manual shifting.
The dashboard gets a new look with revised instrumentation and new styling. There’s also a revised version of MyLincoln Touch, a control interface using touch-sensitive buttons and a central touch screen for climate, navigation, phone, and infotainment functions. We hope Lincoln has worked the bugs out of this system since initial versions were slow to respond and took a lot of getting used to. On the whole we don’t like small, touch-sensitive buttons because it’s hard to find them without taking your eyes off the road.
A raft of safety gear includes adaptive cruise control, collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and a newly enhanced lane-keeping system that sounds a chime and vibrates the steering wheel if the car wanders out of its lane without the driver using turn signals.
Another notable safety feature is inflatable safety belts for the rear seats. In a crash, the belts inflate to make them a little wider and distribute crash forces more evenly as passengers are thrown forward.
When will it be available? Spring 2012.