Remember the scene in Jaws when Quint is being eaten by a great white shark, where he kicks his legs at the beast’s head, trying to avoid its endless rows of razor-sharp teeth? I reckon Lincoln’s designers based the MKT’s snout on Bruce’s man-eating maw. Sure, there’s a touch of Hannibal Lecter’s mask to the MKT’s grill design. And yes, HR Giger’s aliens would feel right at home wheeling this whip to a Humanity’s End party. But there are children who laughed at the liver-loving psycho killer and sniggered at the acid-tongued incubus who will wake-up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, begging Daddy to take them to school in the morning in his sedate sedan. Congratulations, Lincoln: the MKT is the world’s most terrifying family vehicle.
The MKT’s grill is so unrelentingly grotesque it’s easy to overlook the fact that the crossover’s hind quarters are equally—if less aggressively—hideous. For anyone who appreciates well-sculpted sheet metal and artful illumination, the MKT’s butt is an abomination. The enormous red strip bisecting the back end at nipple height is a distorted echo of an over-sized Ford Thunderbird logo pasted onto an homage to the Acura RL’s ungainly reverse snow plow motif. Adding insult to aesthetic injury, the MKT’s back-up lights are in exactly the wrong place (dead center).
But wait! There’s more! The rear’s glass-to-metal ratio and forward tilt suggests nothing so much as an oncoming Amtrak train. You can’t ask the MKT’s designers “what the hell were you thinking?” because, clearly, they weren’t. The MKT’s profile is blessedly bland, if you discount the 10-spoke 20″ EcoBling wagon wheels filling-up the arches and ruining the ride. We’ll get to that . . .
Based on its looks, the only logical market for Lincoln’s unfathomably ugly station wagon is someone driving a hearse. Unfortunately, the $50K plus sticker puts it out of reach for all but the most successful goth rockers, who’d instantly opt for a proper tour bus. Which leaves . . . who? Seriously. I have no idea why anyone would buy a Lincoln MKT. An engine freak?
Lincoln proudly proclaims that the EcoBoosted MKT is the “only vehicle in its class with a twin-turbocharged direct injection V6 engine.” There’s a reason for that. Vehicles in this genre (at this price point) are tuned for quiet composure. Unlike a smooth-spinning naturally-aspirated six or a lazy, loping V8, the EcoBoosted 3.5-liter V6 is a thoroughly manic motor. The MKT’s force-fed mill feels like an amphetamine-crazed stallion, ready to drop a couple of cogs and bolt for the horizon at a moment’s notice. Or, indeed, without a moment’s notice.
Never mind the occasional roller coaster-like jolt, when the MKT’s speed-seeking six-speed gearbox loses its [freight] train of thought. Or the fact that the MKT’s paddle shift transmission gave up the ghost in the middle of my test drive. With 350 lb•ft of torque at just 3500 RPM, the MKT accelerates like its hair’s on fire. How great is that?
Not much. The the carnivorous Lincoln’s an answer to a question nobody asked: where can I buy a really fast Medusa-class crossover with a hair-trigger throttle? Oh, and don’t worry about wind noise, tire roar or a stiff, crashy ride. Or handling.
Sensibly enough, Lincoln equips its blown MKTs with all wheel-drive. While the big rig’s brakes are almost as touchy as the go-pedal, the steering system serves-up something roughly approximating feel and the car corners without excessive body roll. To no appreciable effect save safety. Tap into the MKT’s seemingly endless thrust (just try not to) and its forward momentum completely outstrips the Lincoln’s ability to do anything about/with it. The MKT is more Hyundai than hot rod; it’s Sonata sports wagon it Hertz.
Yes, there is that. The MKT’s materials, interior design and overall build quality suggests a future spent scaring jet-lagged travelers trudging through rental car lots. What the hell are those pieces of foam glued to the top of the engine bay (in front of the base of the windscreen)? My guess: a twenty-five cent fix for an at-speed hood rattle. Got duct tape? Yup. Well we may need some more over here . . .
As an automotive brand struggling to reclaim its place in The Bigs, Lincoln has equipped all MKTs with “premium perforated leather trimmed seats.” While the chairs are comfortable enough for government work, they’re as aromatic as a window pane. Without any eau de dead cow to distract the nasal palate from nasty, out-gassing plastics, Lincoln’s luxury crossover smells exactly like an oven-fresh Ford Focus.
It’s no small point. Lincoln owes its miserable existence to its inability to sweat the small stuff. Everywhere you look, there’s evidence of cost cutting. From the glove box lid’s flimsy feel, to the execrable embalmed mouse fur material covering the third row seats, to the nasty faux nickel-finished plastic adorning (in the ironic sense) the radio and HVAC housing, the MKT is more econo-box than luxury limo.
I know luxury cars. And you, sir, are no luxury car.
The MKT’s central dials are an especially egregious example of Ford’s lack of commitment to, or understanding of, an upmarket ethos. Garish markers illuminate an otherwise vapid tachometer and frame the speedometer in twenty mile-per-hour increments. [Note: if Lincoln wants buyers younger than 60, perhaps they shouldn’t put that number smack dab in the middle of the speedo.] I’m thinking the MKT’s vanilla-ice-cream-topped-with-gravy styling owes its genesis to a penny-pinching rummage through Ford’s parts bin. If so, shame on them. If not, double shame on them.
The MKT’s plastics may smell bad, but they engender the same amount of haptic happiness as any other Ford product (i.e., none). About the best that can be said about the MKT’s cabin: the wood’s shiny and the second row seating is expansive, cosseting and comfortable—provided the owner opted for twin chairs (as advertised on TV).
Hang on; why would they do that? Who wants an ugly-ass six-chair leather-lined station-wagon-on-stilts? How’s that whole R-Class thing working out for Mercedes, anyway? True story: the moribund Merc enjoys pride of place on the Lincoln’s Compar-O-Matic, flanked on either side the not-exactly-flying-off-the-shelves Audi Q7 3.6 and the not-entirely-unpopular Acura MDX.
Yes, well, as well all know, three’s company and six is a crowd. And there are not one but two more 5000 lb gorillas in or near the MKT’s vicinity. I know Lincoln’s nonsensiclature makes it virtually impossible to memorize their lineup, but I seem to recall that they already have a crossover. The MK . . . uh . . . X. Trying to create a market for the MKT—instead of improving and promoting their existing model—is yet more evidence of Ford’s ongoing wander through the wilderness.
Anyway, primate number two: the Ford Flex. The twin-under-the-skin Flex is no oil painting either, but it costs less, does everything the Lincoln MKT does, and wasn’t designed by a psychopath serving a life sentence in a maximum security mental health facility.
Time to face facts: the MKT’s fugly grill and bulbous butt are an insurmountable obstacle. The EcoBoosted Lincoln could be as fast and agile as an Mercedes S63 AMG, as luxurious as a Bentley Flying Spur and as economical as a Toyota Prius and you’d still need to a brace of beta blockers to buy one.
I know Lincoln dealerships treat their customers well, if only because of their scarcity. But anyone who buys an MKT instead of an up-optioned Flex or something else entirely is an idiot. Actually, make that a blind idiot.
As even the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles’ licensing division has to draw the line somewhere, I don’t expect the Lincoln MKT will do much for Lincoln’s bottom line or future prospects, save weaken them. The Lincoln MKT AWD EcoBoost proves, once again, that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Performance: 5 stars. Anyone who’d want more thrust in this thing ought to have their headers examined.
Ride: 2 stars. If it was an SUV, fair enough. But it isn’t, so no fare.
Handling: 3 stars. Deadly dull but not deadly.
Exterior: 0 stars. Ghastly.
Interior: 0 stars. What we have is a failure to luxuriate.
Fit and Finish: 1 star. Nothing broke or fell off during the test drive, but Lincoln needs to reach higher. MUCH higher.
Toys: 4 stars. It honest-to-God parks itself and the SYNC works a treat, but the ICE audio quality is so muddy I wanted to put a pair of Wellingtons over my ears.
Desirability: 0 stars. I can’t imagine anyone pining to plunk down 50 large on one of these things.
Price as tested: $50K
Overall Rating: 0 stars. Beats walking and goes like stink, but the MKT is a complete embarrassment to all concerned, really. A badly built car that never should have been built.