2014 Lincoln MKT

The Lincoln MKT is a three-row luxury crossover that recently received a mid-cycle refresh. Although its styling is not to everyone's tastes, the MKT does provide a long list of standard luxury features in addition to a comfortable and spacious interior.

Developed under codename D472, the MKT shares its platform with the Ford Flex, despite a considerably different appearance. For the previous model year Lincoln updated the CUV so that it carries the same cosmetic DNA as found throughout the rest of the brand's lineup.

But looks aren't the only thing freshened as Lincoln also upped its game for the standard engine - a 3.7-liter V6 that now sends 303 horsepower to the front wheels, up from 268. Torque comes in at 278 lb-ft, and fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

But while those changes are all well and good, the reality is a staggering nine out of 10 MKT buyers opt for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, which is good for 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The EcoBoost model comes with all-wheel drive standard, but a computer can automatically disengage the rear wheels when not needed to improve fuel economy. The switchover occurs in just 16 milliseconds. The EcoBoost-ed MKT returns 16/23 mpg.

Both engines make use of a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, although the EcoBoosted models use a slightly fortified version. SelectShift gives drivers of the MKT full gear selection control, with no engine override, and can be controlled by paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel.

Advanced Suspension
MKT models equipped with the EcoBoost mill make use of a sophisticated Continuously Controlled Damping system. IT utilizes 46 different inputs to send over 23,000 different packets of data to a computer each second, all helping to make decisions and adjustments to several aspects of the suspension based on the immediate road conditions.

CCD calculates the optimal damping force 500 times per second - making the mechanical changes 20 times per second on average, but up to 50 in the same time frame. The result? Decreased body roll and understeer in addition to improved ride comfort.

Another system aiding drivers and occupants in their travels is Lincoln Drive Control, which offers three default settings: Sport, Normal and Comfort. Sport Mode changes include a more responsive throttle, more precise steering, higher upshifts, less intrusive traction control and electronic stability control and a firmer suspension for minimized body roll.

Opting for Normal Mode will provide the best balance for daily driving, while Comfort Mode is intended for long Sunday drives or bumpy roads.

More Technology, Comfort, Features Inside
Luxury cars are defined by their elegance, style, power and refinement, but interior technology is continually becoming a major hallmark of the modern luxury vehicle. To that end, Lincoln has equipped the latest MKT with the SYNC, a Bluetooth-based connectivity system that allows smartphone users to place calls and stream music by using voice commands or steering wheel-mounted buttons. It can also read incoming texts aloud to help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road, and allows the use of Ford-approved apps like The Wall Street Journal news and Pandora radio.

Also standard is MyLincoln Touch, an infotainment system that builds on SYNC by letting users control everything from navigation to climate control to the sound system with voice commands. MyLicoln Touch also replaces conventional sound system knobs and buttons with a center-mounted eight-inch touchscreen, dual 4.2-inch displays in the instrument cluster and touch-sensitive controls in the center stack. Many consumers report that the system is a "love it or hate it" item, so those interested in the MKT are advised to try before they buy.

Standard audio comes from an eight-speaker, 210-watt system, while optional equipment includes an audiophile-approved, THX II certified system with 700 watts and 14 speakers.

Occupants will enjoy 12-way adjustable seats, with the first two rows covered in Bridge of Weir leather, from Scotland, giving a truly high-end luxury appearance and feel. The driver is treated with adjustable pedals and power tilt/telescoping steering wheel that is also heated.

Lincoln says that it has also made the cabin quieter than the outgoing model, another hallmark of luxury.

Other improvements include the addition of inflatable seatbelts to the second row, which helps distribute force in an accident across five times as much area.

The crossover also gains Curve Control to help regain control if drivers take offramps too quickly, Lane Keeping Alert, Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System and MyKey.

Standard and Optional Features
Regardless of which powertrain is equipped, the MKT comes standard with leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, MyLincoln Touch, SYNC, a rearview camera, mobile WiFi, an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM stereo system with AUX and USB inputs, power-adjustable pedals, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, adaptive xenon headlights with automatic high beams, a 110-volt power outlet and 19-inc painted aluminum wheels.

Two options package are available for the MKT EcoBoost. The Elite Package brings voice-activated navigation, a heated steering wheel, a 14-speaker, 700-watt premium audio system with HD Radio and iTunes tagging, a Blind Spot Info system with cross-traffic alert and power-folding 3rd-row seats. Available only in conjunction with the Elite Package, the Technology Package includes active park assist, adaptive cruise control and collision warning, and a lane-keeping system.

Stand-alone options for the MKZ EcoBoost include a panoramic sunroof, imitation metal interior trim, a refrigerated 2nd-row console, heated and ventilated 2nd-row bucket seats (replaces 2nd-row bench seat), a DVD entertainment system and 20-inch wheels.

Occupant Safety
Standard safety equipment includes dual front and side airbags, three-row side curtain airbags and traction and stability control systems.

Newly optional for the latest model year are inflatable outboard rear seatbelts.

Key Competitors
The MKT competes against other three-row luxury crossovers like the the Audi Q7, the Lexus GX460 and the Infiniti JX35.