Ford has a major-league hit on its hands with the 2009 Flex crossover – with the media. Sadly, despite its varied and considerable charms, sales haven't met the Blue Oval's admittedly lofty expectations. Blame the recession, blame the marketing department, blame the Flex's divisive styling, blame what you will, but Dearborn is plainly going to have to find more volume for its D4 platform. Enter the 2010 Lincoln MKT.
It doesn't take more than a brief glance to realize that Ford's stylists have exacted much more than a quick nip/tuck on the rectilinear Flex en-route to minting this new Lincoln. But beyond the crossover's assertive looks, there is a host of new technology on offer inside and out that should help put the MKT on luxury crossover shopping lists. Follow the jump to learn more about the MKT and read Lincoln's official press release.
Starting with the MKT's most obvious discussion point, its sheetmetal, it is clear that Ford has gone in a different direction – literally. Whereas the Flex comes about its styling primarily through the use of horizontal lines, the MKT's design has a decidedly vertical orientation. From its two-piece wing grille, to the character ridge running down the hood, to its surprisingly crisp corners, the MKT is very much its own crossover. It's also very much a Lincoln, with its end-to-end taillamps and fast-becoming trademark two-piece wing grille. Few are likely to call the MKT "pretty," but in the metal, there's no doubting its originality or its presence.
Inside, the Oakville, Ontario-built MKT takes the Flex's generously proportioned interior and elevates it with higher-quality materials, an LED-lit acrylic instrument cluster, prominent stitching and wood trim, and even second-row footrests. Those familiar with the Flex will find many similarities, including the latest version of SYNC, along with optional niceties like the second-row refrigerator. A THX II Certified surround-sound system with 14 speakers is available, and a 10-speaker single-CD player with Sirius satellite radio and USB connectivity is standard-fit.
Ford has bumped up the number of convenience and safety technologies with the MKT, including the availability of Adaptive Cruise Control (piggybacked with a collision warning system that is capable of priming the brakes), a blind-spot monitoring system, and Active Park Assist (a self-parking system that promises to be easier to use than those used by competing automakers).
The real story here, as it is with the rest of the Ford family for 2009, is the availability of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. Packing 355 horsepower (@ 5700 rpm) and 350 pound-feet of torque (@ 3500 rpm), look for the MKT to get out of its own way with genuine verve. The direct-injected, twin-turbo engine is paired exclusively with all-wheel drive and a six-speed paddleshift automatic that executes – wait for – rev-matched downshifts. In a Lincoln. Crossover. Yes, we're rather eager to see how this plays out, too.
If you must, the non-EcoBoost Duratec V6 comes standard and that 3.7-liter brings with it 268 hp and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. But given that this engine is slightly overmatched in the (presumably lighter) Flex, we imagine the EcoBoost mill will be worth the premium, especially since the twin-turbo's fuel economy ratings are expected to be similar to its less-powerful sibling. Besides, if you're worried about your son or daughter being tempted by the EcoBoost's substantial power reserves, you can order your MKT with MyKey, a comprehensive suite of features that allows owners to limit vehicle top speed and pester drivers with preset speed chimes to discourage teenage hooliganism.
Ford says that the rear suspension has been retuned to ride like a proper Lincoln without adopting nautical roll angles and major squat and dive. The proof will be in the dynamic pudding, as the MKT figures to be slightly portlier than the already hefty Flex, but the Blue Oval Box is a solid handler, so there is good reason to be optimistic. We look forward to getting behind the wheel and giving you some firsthand perspective.
The low-slung MKT will duke it out against taller imported alphanumeric competitors like the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, and BMW X5, along with domestic iron like the Buick Enclave and perhaps some body-on-frame SUVs like the Chrysler Aspen. Pricing hasn't been announced yet, but officials promise that all models will be "more than competitive" cross-shops when they go on sale later this year. And while Ford has previously gone on record hoping to move 100,000 Flex units annually, the Lincoln officials we spoke with were quick to note that they see the MKT as more of a niche player. Ostensibly, the MKT should help expand the brand while keeping loyal customers in the fold who need more space than their MKX or less... everything than their Navigator. Given the Flex's surprisingly soft early sales, a slow-play by executives is likely the smart strategy here. Who knows, as the Flex continues to rack up the accolades, perhaps its increasingly strong bones will help provide a solid stepping stone for Lincoln's unique MKT after all.
DISTINCTIVE NEW THREE-ROW LINCOLN MKT OFFERS LUXURIES OF FUEL ECONOMY, TECHNOLOGY, SPACE
• All-new 2010 Lincoln MKT enters the luxury crossover segment with Lincoln's signature design, inviting three-row interior and intuitive technologies that will make customers' lives easier – including available Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Brake Support, Active Park Assist, Blind Spot monitoring – and more
• The Lincoln MKT offers two fuel-efficient engine choices in Ford's proven 268 horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 or the new 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost™ engine that delivers even more performance with estimated 355 horsepower, without compromising its V-6 fuel economy
• Joining the all-new Lincoln MKS and new 2010 Lincoln MKZ and further growing the brand's momentum, Lincoln MKT will be available in dealer showrooms in late summer
DETROIT, Jan. 12, 2009 – Lincoln is offering full-size luxury crossover customers a fresh new choice with the 2010 Lincoln MKT, a three-row tourer that delivers the optimal blend of fuel economy, performance, technology and spaciousness.
"We're growing Lincoln's product portfolio with a full-size crossover that offers more of everything luxury buyers want today – including more variety," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "Lincoln MKT will help us further build momentum for Lincoln, which has been outpacing its luxury competitors and growing market share in recent months."
The all-new 2010 Lincoln MKT is larger than the two-row Lincoln MKX mid-size premium crossover and joins the sumptuous and sporty Lincoln MKS luxury sedan launched in 2008 and the new Lincoln MKZ sedan that hits the market in spring.
Standard on every Lincoln MKT is the brand's signature design – complete with a split waterfall grille, a beveled chamfer along the vehicle's shoulder line, a flowing cantrail that frames the greenhouse and full-width horizontal taillamps that span the subtly curved weight-saving magnesium liftgate that adds visual character while protecting generous rear cargo space.
Precision Lincoln MKT craftsmanship is reflected in world-class panel margins, and in the high tactile quality of interior surfaces and trim.
Inside, high-quality materials and precision-stitched craftsmanship are evident on every surface – from the leather-trimmed seating surfaces and floating armrests to the optional flow-through second- row center console and jewel-like acrylic instrument cluster with LED white lighting.
Beyond that, customers can choose how to best specify Lincoln MKT, which offers:
• Customers' choice of a standard fixed glass Panoramic Vista Roof™ with power-assisted front and rear sunshades – or the available Power Panoramic VistaTM roof
• Either six- or seven-passenger variations with two different second-row seating configurations. A standard 60/ 40 split folding rear bench seat features heated outboard seating positions. Power "fold and tumble" bucket seats, with heating, cooling and power-assisted lumbar adjustment are also available. A rear console-mounted five-quart-capacity refrigerator is available in the individual bucket seating configuration
• Second-row footrests and an available dual headrest Family Entertainment System with twin 7-inch DVD playback screens offering individual or simultaneous programming
• A litany of exterior paint colors, including Ingot Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Tuxedo Black Clearcoat Metallic, Red Candy Tint Clearcoat Metallic, Cinnamon Clearcoat Metallic, Steel Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Gold Leaf Clearcoat Metallic, Sterling Grey Clearcoat Metallic and White Platinum Tri-Coat
Balancing power and efficiency
Fuel-efficiency also comes standard on the Lincoln MKT – and customers have a choice of two powerful yet practical V-6 engines.
A 3.7-liter, 24-valve variation of the award-winning Duratec engine family is standard. Delivering an expected 268 horsepower at 6,500 RPM and 267 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 RPM, this engine has been tuned to provide brisk acceleration and smooth power delivery with best-in-class noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) control.
A two-speed fuel pump and Aggressive Deceleration Fuel Shut-Off (ADFSO), combined with optimized transmission and final drive gearing, are designed to help this engine to deliver segment-leading fuel economy of an estimated 24 mpg highway, besting both the Acura MDX and Audi Q7 by 4 mpg..
For even more performance driving feel, Lincoln MKT also offers a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6. This engine provides the power of a normally-aspirated V-8 with V-6 fuel economy. This advanced engine delivers a class-leading estimated 355 horsepower at 5,700 RPM, while generating 350 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 RPM.
EcoBoost is a global Ford strategy to deliver the power that customers want, combined with the fuel economy that they need. Combining gasoline direct injection with twin turbochargers and a smaller-displacement engine, EcoBoost can match the power output of larger, naturally aspirated engines while yielding torque and fuel economy gains.
Pressurized direct injection helps eliminate the "turbo lag" associated with earlier turbocharged engines. And even with the additional horsepower, fuel economy is optimized by an increased compression ratio, enabled by air-charged cooling and sophisticated knock controls.
Lincoln MKT is equipped with a six-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission. This advanced gearbox offers the driver a choice between fully automatic operation and manual control.
In addition, paddle shifters are integrated into the steering wheel spokes. Intuitive to operate, a squeeze back on either paddle will deliver an upshift, while a gentle push forward on either paddle will induce a "matched-rev" downshift.
This capability makes the Lincoln MKT driving experience sporty, yet smooth. Unlike other competitive transmissions, SelectShift won't "second guess" the driver with an override shift. With SelectShift, manual control is truly manually controlled.
All-wheel-drive is optional in the Lincoln MKT with the standard 3.7-liter V-6. The AWD option enhances the vehicle's capability in a variety of weather conditions. The sophisticated AWD system is fully automatic, using an advanced array of internal electro-mechanical clutches to efficiently distribute torque between front and rear wheels as needed. AWD is standard in the Lincoln MKT with the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6.
Quiet, confident motoring
"The Lincoln MKT strikes the optimum balance between capable and driver-engaging handling, while simultaneously delivering a smooth quiet ride in all three rows," said Chief Engineer Ron Heiser. "It combines a luxury touring experience with an agile ride and available Class III towing strength, as well."
Key elements of Lincoln MKT suspension development and tuning included minimizing front end lift on acceleration, offering stable and engaging steering and handling characteristics that provide confidence to all drivers, all while delivering a luxurious ride quality consistent with Lincoln brand character.
A new rear suspension system features a "one for one" shock absorber ratio. The resulting linear response gave the engineering team a stable base line for suspension tuning, allowing the team to deliver a better balance between responsive handling and control as well as a smooth ride. It also improves rear suspension isolation and enables the use of 20-inch wheels.
Lincoln MKT delivers a new level of quiet confidence that delivers best-in-class levels of NVH control. Virtual modeling and wind tunnel tests helped engineers optimize the vehicle, influencing everything from side view mirror placement and special sound deadening in the bulkhead to extensive exhaust system isolation and the inclusion of both an acoustic windshield and dual-layer front side glass to specifically reduce A-pillar wind noise.
On the 3.5 EcoBoost V-6 equipped versions, engineers directed additional effort to minimizing induction noise, while still providing a rewarding aural cadence to Lincoln MKT acceleration.
Lincoln MKT delivers abundant technologies aimed at making life luxurious for both the driver and three rows of passengers. A holistic approach was used to develop these amenities, where ease of use and intuitive operation were key objectives. Nowhere is this focus more apparent than with Active Park Assist.
Lincoln MKT with EcoBoost features advanced Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS), which enables the optional Active Park Assist. This innovative Lincoln-exclusive technology employs an ultrasonic-based sensing system, as opposed to video camera-reliant competitive offerings, making hands-free parallel parking a breeze.
Active Park Assist works at the touch of a button, requiring less driver programming, reducing the risk of selecting an inappropriately sized parking space, detecting edges of adjacent objects to calculate optimized trajectory and "steering" the Lincoln MKT while coaching the driver through conventional throttle and braking inputs.
In addition to completing a parking maneuver quickly, Active Park Assist is also the first system to operate in uphill parking situations, unlike competitive systems on the market.
Additional Lincoln MKT customer convenience features include:
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) allows the driver to set and maintain vehicle speed, while radar monitors traffic ahead of the Lincoln MKT. This optional system automatically adjusts speed and slows the vehicle to maintain the set distance behind traffic ahead.
Intelligent Access with Push Button Start allows the driver to enter the Lincoln MKT and start the engine without using the key. Entry is made easier as drivers simply carry the special fob as they approach the vehicle and start the engine by pushing a button.
SecuriCode™ Keyless Entry Keypad allows access to Lincoln MKT by unlocking the driver's door by entering a pre-set five-digit code in the flush-mounted, backlit keypad integrated into the B-pillar.
Adaptive Headlamps with Standard High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps enhance nighttime visibility. Sensors monitor Lincoln MKT speed and steering wheel input to engage headlamp movement to increase the driver's field of vision.
Auto High Beams coupled with Adaptive Headlamps enhance nighttime visibility by switching to high intensity when no other vehicles are in range.
Rain-Sensing Wipers use an optical sensing system to gauge precipitation and automatically activate and adjust the wipers.
EasyFuel™ Capless Fuel-Filler System self seals when refueling is complete.
MyKey™ allows parent or other concerned owners to restrict certain Lincoln MKT features when in the hands of a MyKey driver.
MyKey encourages safety belt usage, provides earlier low fuel warnings, engages applicable driver aid systems and sounds speed chimes at preset levels while limiting audio system volume and top vehicle speed.
Blind Spot Information System (BLIS™) comes into play when a turn signal is activated. A radar sensor on the outboard rear quarter panel monitors the traditional blind spot area and can notify the driver with a warning indicator light in the corresponding side view mirror if the sensors in this optional system detect a vehicle in the blind spot.
Cross Traffic Alert uses BLIS sensors to help detect traffic when backing out of a parking space. When the vehicle is in reverse and it senses traffic, mirror warning lights illuminate and audible signals sound.
Spotter Mirrors add secondary convex spotter mirror panels in the top outer corner of the side view mirrors, specifically oriented to reflect objects often lost in a driver's blind spot.
Reverse Camera System, a standard Lincoln MKT feature, uses the centerstack-mounted touch/ navigation screen for projection and activates upon reverse gear engagement.
Lincoln SYNC™ is standard on Lincoln MKT. This award-winning voice activated communications and entertainment system developed by Ford and Microsoft fully integrates Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phones and digital media players into the vehicle.
SYNC incorporates 911 Assist, which can notify a local 911 emergency operator in the event of an air bag deployment incident. SYNC Vehicle Health Report feature can keep the driver notified of scheduled maintenance, service intervals and vehicle system health information.
Lincoln MKT is offered with two audio technology choices. Standard is an AM/FM In-Dash Single CD/DVD/MP3 capable unit with 10 speakers, SIRIUS® Satellite Radio with six-month prepaid subscription, an auxiliary input jack and a USB port.
The available Navigation Package includes an internal hard-drive for map and point-of-interest information storage, THX II® Certified 5.1 Surround Audio System with 14 strategically aimed Premium Audio speakers.
A unique new technology, making its debut in the Lincoln MKT audio upgrade package, is Neural Surround significantly improving the surround sound experience from compressed digital music formats. In addition, a SIRIUS Travel Link™ prepaid subscription is included with the Navigation Package providing coast-to-coast weather data, forecasts, fuel prices, sports scores, movie listings and more.
The available Navigation Package also enables the driver to display personal photos on the centerstack-mounted touchscreen. The system can store and display up to 32 photos, sized 1.5MB or less. The home screen can be personalized, by display or desired information or photos in one, tow or three panel views.
Both systems feature an internal Jukebox hard drive for storage of up to 150 hours of recorded audio entertainment. Users can browse the Jukebox via touch screen or voice control. Gracenote® technology will display the CD cover when a selected track is playing.
Technology under the skin
"The new Lincoln MKT brings together a compelling package of active and passive safety features that work to help protect its passengers," said Stephen Kozak, safety engineering chief.
The Lincoln MKT features a new technology aimed at helping make driving safer.
Collision Warning with Brake Support, enabled by Adaptive Cruise Control, provides the driver with a "heads-up" display that flashes on the windshield when the system senses slower moving traffic ahead. If the driver doesn't respond, the system will pre-charge the brakes to prepare the vehicle for a more aggressive stop.
The Lincoln MKT also features an advanced structural safety system that combines octagonal front frame rails, tunnel rails, and support members that are designed to absorb and redirect crash forces away from the passenger compartment.
Lincoln MKT also features Side Protection And Cabin Enhancement (SPACE) Architecture incorporated to optimize side-impact occupant protection.
The SPACE system integrates a hydroformed high strength steel tube embedded in the floor that runs the width of the vehicle from B-pillar to B-pillar and along the rocker panels to form a safety cage to help protect passengers in side impact incidents.
Lincoln MKT also features Ford's enhanced Personal Safety System, combining multiple technologies to tailor the air bag package and safety belt functions to the individual passenger and the accident circumstances. The system can identify variables, such as severity of the crash, weight of the individual passenger and safety belt usage to adjust air bag deployment force.
Additional Lincoln MKT safety technologies include:
Safety Canopy™ is Ford's exclusive side impact protection system employing side curtain air bags to help protect front and outboard rear passengers in both rollover and side impact crashes.
Beltminder® reminder technology for driver and front seat passenger, persistently taking over after the initial safety belt signal stops chiming.
SOS Post-Crash Alert System automatically flashes the turn signal lamps and sounds the horn following deployment of an air bag or activation of a safety belt pretensioner.
"The Lincoln MKT is all about delivering more for customers – more choice, more premium features and technologies and even more luxury for people in all three rows," Fields said.
The Lincoln MKT will be built at Ford's Oakville Assembly Complex in Ontario, Canada, and will be in dealer showrooms in late summer.