Its first attempt at a luxury truck failed miserably with the Blackwood, but Lincoln is making a much better effort with the 2007 Lincoln Mark LT. Though outselling its only real competition, the Cadillac Escalade EXT, nearly 2 to 1 this year, the question of "why" still remains. Does Lincoln really need a rebadged F-150? Does it even warrant having a pickup truck in its lineup at all? Regardless of what anyone else thinks, Lincoln obviously believes that's the case, so here we are.
While Ford offers the "King Ranch " version of the F-150, it is targeted at the rancher (or rancher wannabe) who is looking for something a little more luxurious. The Mark LT is clearly aimed at the Polo Club crowd, hoping to wow them with that Lincoln chrome and glitter, while still offering all the utility of a real truck. One thing the Mark LT excels at is grabbing attention, as evidenced by the number of people who stopped us to ask what it was. Living in a rural area where trucks are king, onlookers were very impressed with its looks both inside and out, but enthusiasm waned slightly when they inquired about its price.
Exclusivity doesn't come cheap, and the base price for the 2007 Lincoln Mark LT 4x4 is $42,395 including $900 in destination and delivery charges. One of the truck's selling points is the availability of a traditional 6.5-foot bed -- an option not available on the Escalade EXT costing nearly $14,000 more (base price). The truck we drove included $6,545 worth of options, which elevated the total sticker price to $48,940. You can see a copy of the sticker after the jump for the complete options list, but this truck was almost fully loaded, lacking only the $1,295 rear entertainment system, bed extender and chrome bed rails.
Read complete review with pics after the jump!
Our first impression of the Mark LT was quite good. The black clearcoat paint provides an excellent backdrop for the signature chrome Lincoln grille, which is changed along with the headlights for '07 and unique to the Mark LT. The truck we drove had the Monochrome Appearance and Elite Packages, which adds a body-color grille surround, mirror caps, and bumpers on the outside. Furthering the luxury inside, these packages also add a power rear sliding window, chrome-plated running boards, Class IV trailer towing, power 1-touch open/close moonroof, reverse sensing system, the award winning corporate navigation system with an incredible sounding Audiophile AM/FM CD6 stereo and Sirius satellite radio. Unfortunately, all of the options in the world can't cover up the fact that this is still a dressed-up F-150.
Although better than most pickups, the Mark LT still just doesn't exactly exude luxury in the ride category. We're sure that some of the degradation in comfort comes from the 275/55R20 Pirelli Scorpion tires mounted to the optional 20-inch chrome aluminum wheels costing $1,495. Apparently adding the bling incurs costs that aren't just monetary. One benefit of the wheel/tire combination, though, is very predictable handling; it feels like the truck spent some development time on a road course dialing in the chassis dynamics. During a run through our favorite twisties, the Mark LT exhibited excellent turn-in with very little body roll in relatively high-speed maneuvers -- extremely unexpected in a luxo-truck with a live rear axle. The power rack-and-pinion steering features a 17.2:1 ratio and is very communicative, providing a reassuring experience behind the wheel. Still, it's a body-on-frame pickup truck and feels it every step of the way.
Being a real truck under the snazzy threads does have its advantages, however. With the Class IV towing package, it can pull an 8,600 lb. trailer and haul 1,580 lbs. in the bed, which features a liner with the Lincoln logo in the headwall. Although it gives up a full 103 horsepower to the 6.2-liter V8 in the Cadillac, the Linc's 5.4-liter makes a respectable 300 horsepower and 365 lb/ft of torque, yet even with the 3.73 gear isn't built for drag racing. The four-speed automatic transmission is a couple of cogs short of the EXT's six-speed, and the fuel economy appears to suffer because of it. Fortunately, it doesn't require premium fuel, but at an as tested 12.3 mpg (according to the trip computer in the truck) it drank regular unleaded at a rate akin to beer consumption on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. For the record, the EPA rates the Mark LT at 14 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.
A clear departure from standard F-150 fare can be found when you climb into LT's cab, which is unmistakably Lincoln. The branding folks make sure you don't forget by affixing Lincoln badges to the seatbacks and center armrest while spelling out L-I-N-C-O-L-N in bold chrome letters on the ashtray door. The seats are covered in black leather with contrasting gray piping, but we were very surprised to find manual seat-back adjusters and lumbar controls given the Lincoln's lofty price range. That aside, the seats were comfortable, easily adjustable, and offered greater lateral support than any Ford truck short of the now-defunct SVT F-150 Lightning. Contrast-stitched leather covers the center armrest and instrument cluster hood, and while that's all very nice, the interior materials are still lacking at this price point. This is one area where the Cadillac EXT is superior. The Lincoln's simulated-wood inserts, dashboard and door panel materials are too hard and look/feel too much like cheap plastic yearning for some tactile improvements. The interior quality you find in a $35K Audi is remarkably better than this.
After a week behind the wheel, we came away relatively impressed with the overall driving experience provided by the 2007 Lincoln Mark LT. It's arguably pleasing to look at (we think), is comfortable to drive, and reveals a surprisingly sporty side when pushed a bit. The near-$50K price is an issue, but it appears that Ford has done exactly what it set out to do with the Mark LT: give truck buyers a luxury alternative to the everyday pickup truck without resorting to the rather ostentatious and pricey extremes of the Cadillac Escalade EXT.