2006 Mark LT New Car Test Drive
First, there was the 2002 Lincoln Blackwood. Now, there's the 2006 Lincoln Mark LT. And just as buyers of the Blackwood might have believed they were getting a true pickup, so might buyers of the Mark LT be lulled into assuming they're getting an updated, if gently downgraded, Blackwood. Neither was nor is true.
That earlier, faux hauler was an uneasy amalgam of a couple of Ford F-Series pickups and the Lincoln Navigator, which itself was a direct knock-off of the Ford Expedition. This true hauler, however, is in fact a rhinoplasticized and slightly beefier version of nothing less, or more, than the Ford F-150 crew cab pickup. That bodes both good and bad for 10,000 people a year Lincoln hopes will buy the second truck ever to wear the Lincoln brand. Seeing as how Lincoln sold less than 4,000 Blackwoods over two model years, that'd be a bullet on the company's sales charts.
The good news is buyers will get a thoroughly polished, well-trimmed, four-door vehicle that can transport four people in comfort, five people in a pinch, handle a payload of more than a ton and a half, and tow up to 8900 pounds. It's available in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, which is unique to the class. The latest in engine technology delivers best-in-class fuel economy. An audio/video system is available to entertain rear-seat passengers, and satellite radio is available.
More good news: Pricing. The Mark LT starts at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $38,680 for the two-wheel-drive model and $42,235 for the four wheel-drive model. That's significantly less than the Cadillac EXT, its most logical competitor, which starts at more than $54,000.
The bad news is that even with all the trimmings, the two-tone leather-wrapped steering wheel, the overstuffed seats, the automatic climate control, the play-anything stereo and so on, the Mark LT cannot overcome the reality that it started life as a pickup. And its ride and handling are the ultimate betrayers of this truth.
This leads us to offer the following recommendation: Do not buy the Mark LT for its stellar performance numbers. Don't buy it for its plush, luxo ride. Buy it instead and only for whatever cachet the Lincoln badge brings with it in the circles in which you live and work, along with its ability as a pickup truck.
The 2006 Lincoln Mark LT comes in one body style but with a choice of two drivetrains. It's a full-size, four-door, crew cab-style pickup with an abbreviated bed and offered with either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The engine is a 300-horsepower, 5.4-liter V8. The transmission is a four-speed, overdrive automatic. The four wheel-drive's transfer case is a two-speed unit with a 2.64:1 low gear ratio.
Lincoln has trimmed the Mark LT with most of the features expected in a luxury-class vehicle, be it a car, a truck or whatever. Automatic air conditioning is standard, of course, as are cruise control and power windows and heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals. There's wood applique on the dash and the inside door handles. The front seats are heated, leather-surfaced and have power adjustments for all but lumbar and seatback recline, which are manual. Two drivers get memory privileges for the driver's seat and outside mirror settings. In the back is a 60/40-split, flip-up seat upholstered in leather look-alike with a fold-down center armrest. Leather-covered, tilt steering wheel is standard, too, as are central locking with remote key fob, on-board computer and Ford's power-rail, overhead console hardware. The stereo provides AM, FM and MP3 output, a six-disc in-dash CD changer, speed-compensated volume and seven, acoustically positioned speakers augmented by a subwoofer with separate amplifier. Also standard are a universal programmable remote garage opener, carpeted floor mats and polished-metal door scuff plates. Black sidewall tires are mounted on 18-inch, cast-aluminum wheels on both two-wheel and four-wheel drive versions; the former gets lower profile rubber, a set of P265/60R all-season tires, while the latter rides on P275/65R all-terrain tires. Fog lamps are standard. So is a chrome rear bumper, complete with a black step pad.
With the exception of a set of seven-spoke, chromed aluminum wheels offered only on the two-wheel-drive model ($495) and skid plates ($160) offered only on the four-wheel-drive model, all remaining options are available across the two-model line. These are: a rear seat, DVD-based entertainment system with six months of pre-paid Sirius Satellite Radio ($1,295), a stand-alone Sirius Satellite Radio package with six months pre-paid service ($195), power adjustable pedals ($120), a power moonroof ($995), and a power sliding rear window ($250). Also offered are running boards ($250), chrome box rails ($250), eight-spoke chromed aluminum wheels ($695), a bed extender ($195), a limited slip rear differential ($300) and a Class IV trailer tow package ($350).
Safety features comprise two, dual-stage front seat airbags; front seatbelt-use reminder; three-point seatbelts at all occupant positions; adjustable head restraints at all outboard seating positions; and rear seat child safety seat anchors (LATCH). Anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution are standard. Optional is a reverse parking sensor system ($245).