The 2014 Lincoln MKT is offered in just two models: one with front-wheel drive, and the other with all-wheel drive. Opt for the front-wheel-drive model, the base engine is a 300-horsepower, 3.7L V6, making 275 lb-feet of torque. This engine benefits from Ford's Ti-VCT (variable cam timing) system, for improved torque and efficiency through most of the rev range, and it returns an EPA-rated 17 mpg city, 25 highway. Go with all-wheel drive, and you'll get the 3.5L EcoBoost V6, with turbocharging and direct injection, making 365 horsepower and 350 -lb of torque.
In either case, the MKT comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission, including a SelectShift full-manual mode and steering-wheel paddle-shifters. The all-wheel drive system sends power only to the front wheels during most driving, yet in as little as 16 milliseconds it can send power as needed to the rear wheels.
A standout handling feature of the MKT is Continuously Controlled Damping, a system that employs computer controls and a special damper design to adjust damper force in as little as 11 milliseconds -- for a change in surface, or for a more substantial upheaval like a pothole or railroad tracks. The system also provides more confident handling, firming up when needed and helping moderate body roll.
That system functions hand-in-hand with Lincoln Drive Control, a system that lets the driver choose--through Normal, Comfort or Sport modes--the way in which the steering responds, how sensitive the throttle response is, ride firmness and other aspects. In addition, the steering ratio has been quickened, both to make the MKT feel more nimble and match the benefits of the system.
The MKT remains built on car-based underpinnings, and it drives more like a sedan than an SUV. With three rows of seating -- in 6- or 7-passenger configurations -- it provides top-notch accommodations for those in the front two rows, along with a third row that's great for kids. Second-row heated-and-cooled seats are available, and a long Panoramic Vista Roof brightens the interior for all. Plus, thanks to long rear doors, it's relatively easy to get back to the third row (mind those doors for parking, however).
MyLincoln Touch is a screen-based interface that can be controlled through touch, voice, or steering-wheel toggles. Its centerpiece is a huge 8-inch display top and center on the dash -- providing a go-to operating center for entertainment, navigation and climate control -- but there's also a set of smaller screens in front of the driver. The screen taps into either of the sound systems, including the standard 210-watt, 8-speaker system or the available 700-watt, 14-speaker THX II system, which adds a USB port, DVD player capability and HD Radio. With the navigation system, SiriusXM Traffic services add live-traffic information.
The MKT has a vast list of standard features, and it comes equipped better than many other luxury-brand vehicles. Power-adjustable pedals, power front seats, HID headlamps, LED taillights, rain-sensor wipers, fog lamps, remote start, tri-zone climate control, a universal garage-door opener and SecuriCode entry are all included. Options are limited to a Technology Package with more of those active-safety extras like adaptive cruise control and active park assist; a trailer-towing package; the Vista roof; heated-and-cooled second-row seats; and a rear DVD entertainment system, a second-row refrigerator console. Second-row inflatable seatbelts are a new option and might provide an added measure of protection.