Monday, June 11, 2018

5 things to love about the Lincoln MKT.

Lincoln MKT station wagon.
Photo: Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster.
You can make a strong argument that, of any automotive format, it’s the station wagon that encompasses the widest range of elements of the American automotive experience—from hauling big boards home from a lumber yard, to sliding surfboards in the back for a day of thrills at the beach, to packing the family in for a leisurely roadtrip with luggage neatly tied under a tarp on the roof rack, to three rows of seats packed with a youth soccer team, to screaming burnouts from funkily modded, tire-shredding station-wagon street rods. 

Like the chameleon of the automotive kingdom, whatever reaches of car culture you choose to visit, from the utilitarian to the extreme, a station wagon can fit in somewhere. And while nimble, sporty small wagons certainly have their place, it’s the big, three-rowed land yachts, the cars that filled the SUV space before SUVs were even thunk of, that most saliently exemplify the station-wagon ideal. Big wagons were the vehicle of choice for generations of dads and granddads and that’s why they’re so enshrined in the fond memories of so many people today.

Sadly, it’s the lack of big wagons rolling off today’s automotive assembly lines that leaves the biggest void. The Lincoln MKT may be the only American-built production vehicle that comes close to filling that void, and the MKT is unfortunately an all-too-uncommon sight today. Here are just five of the many things to love about the MKT.

1. It’s the only vehicle on the market today that truly fits into the tradition of the Great American Station Wagon. 

Sure, there are sport wagons, crossovers that try to pass themselves off as wagons, and plenty of smaller European wagon variants that can be had today—some of which are on an up-curve in popularity. But, other than the MKT, has there been anything else to come on the market since the demise of the Caprice Classic, Buick Roadmaster Estate, and Crown Victoria full-size wagons, that truly fills the big-wagon void as well as the MKZ does? If you can think of one, we’d love to hear about it.

2. It’s a crossover that doesn’t look like a crossover. 

Yes, at the core, the Lincoln MKT, considering its ride height, big wheels, and front-wheel-drive architecture with optional all-wheel-drive, is definitely a crossover rather than a traditional station wagon. In fact, the MKT shares a platform with the Ford Flex, one of the original crossovers.

But compared to the Flex, the MKT clearly looks more car-ish than truck-ish, van-ish, or SUV-ish. That’s what enables the MKT to fit so seamlessly into the station-wagon heritage. Undoubtedly, this was by design—because the look of the MKT is much more suited to use in the model’s livery variants, which range from limousines to hearses.

With most crossovers these days ranging from uninspiring to downright ugly in their design aesthetics, the streamlined MKT wagon is a refreshing, eye-catching standout in any parking lot. Would we prefer it to be built on a rear-wheel-drive architecture with optional AWD? Sure, but, as long as that idea remains a unicorn in the big-wagon format, the MKT will do just fine.

3. It’s a thoroughly modern car that tastefully incorporates retro design elements recalling great wagons of the past. 

Lincoln MKT, viewed from the rear.
The sensuously curved rear of the Lincoln MKT
has an art-deco vibe reminiscent of some 1950s
American station wagons. Photo: Lincoln media website.
The side view of the Lincoln MKT is long, sleek, and streamlined, with a true station-wagon silhouette. But it’s the nice rear of the MKT that will really catch your eye with its rounded, art-deco-ish 50s vibe. It’s hard to imagine that designer Max Wolff, respected for work on the Cadillac CTS before coming to Lincoln, didn’t have the sensuously curved behind of the 50s vintage Lincoln Premiere Pioneer wagon in mind when he was seeking inspiration for the MKT.

4. It’s BIG. 

When it comes to assessing whether a modern vehicle lives up to the tradition of great American land-yacht wagons, size matters. So let’s look at some size-comparison benchmarks between the 2018 MKT and the 1967 Ford Country Squire wagon as an exemplar of the old-school great American station wagon.

  • Curb Weight:  believe it or not, as much of a reputation as old-school wagons have for being heavy land yachts, the 2018 MKT is heavier, weighing in at 4,702 to 4,885 pounds to the ’67 Country Squire’s 4,277—and that’s even with a 390 cubic-inch-displacement V8 in the Ford.
  • Wheelbase: The ’67 Ford Country Squire boasts only a slightly longer wheelbase—119 inches to the 2018 MKT’s 117.9.
  • Length: In overall length, the old-school Country Squire has less than a 3-inch advantage, at 210 inches to the 2018 MKT’s 207.6.
  • Cargo Capacity: With a wagon, carrying capacity is of course one of the most important considerations.  The 2018 Lincoln MKT doesn’t quite measure up to the legendary carrying capacity of the big classic wagons. It can hold 75.9 cubic feet with both the second and third-row seats folded down. That’s a good deal less than the 1967 Ford wagons could carry—a whopping 103 cubic feet with both Row 2 and 3 folded down.

    Also, according to an original Ford brochure from 1967, the Ford wagons from that model year could easily pass the proverbial 4-by-8-foot board test, and you could even slide in 10-foot surfboards with ease. But with an interior as lush as the Lincoln’s, maybe you don’t want to carry lumber anyway. That said, if you pick up a MKT hearse on the used market, you might nevertheless be able to pull off the 4x8 board test.  

5. It’s powerful. 

The 2018 model, for example, when equipped with the 3.5L twin-turbo V6, produces 365 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 350 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm, delivering 0–60 acceleration of around 6 seconds. Since the ’67 Country Squire was built at a time before malaise-era regulations that lowered compression ratios and required horsepower to be measured net at the wheels, the 1967 Ford Country Squire had a similarly-respectable measurement for horsepower—315 at 4,600—and with its 390 c.i.d. V8 it was more torquey than the 2018 Lincoln: 427 foot-pounds at 2,800.

However, the 2018 MKT wins the 0–60 contest, with the ’67 Ford Country Squire coming in at 9.4-seconds despite the big V8. However, for its time, this was fast—especially for such a big car. If you have a trailer to hook up, the MKT could fill that bill as well, as long as it’s not too heavy. With the optional Class III hitch package, the MKT has a towing capacity of up to 4,500 pounds.

The Lincoln MKT isn’t cheap, but considering its looks, luxury, and the fine job it does of at filling at least some of the big-wagon void, it isn’t a bad value either. For the 2018 model, the MSRP is $43,530. On the used market, a test search on the Kelley Blue Book website for a 2011 Lincoln MKT EcoBoost, assuming good condition with average miles on the clock, yielded a dealer price range of $13,273–$15,598—again, not exactly bargain-basement for a 7-year-old car but seemingly not insanely over-valued either.

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