2011 Lincoln MKT EcoBoost
2011 Lincoln MKT EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2011 Lincoln MKT

Large vehicles have lost their popularity in the face of record fuel prices, but one fact remains: if you need to consistently move a plethora of people, a little car just ain’t going to cut it. For those who need to transport a full house and want to do so in luxury, Lincoln offers its MKT.

Built in Ontario alongside the Ford Flex, with which it shares its platform, the MKT comes with a choice of two engines: a naturally-aspirated 3.7-litre V6, or my tester’s twin-turbo, direct-injection 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 engine. Both are all-wheel drive, use a six-speed automatic transmission and have three rows of seats.

As with other applications of the technology, the EcoBoost version isn’t strictly about going really fast. Instead, it’s intended to provide bigger-engine power with smaller-engine fuel economy. Whether the EcoBoost version is the appropriate choice will depend on each shopper’s driving habits and wallet, since there’s much to consider. The 3.7-litre MKT starts at $49,950; output is 268 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. The EcoBoost starts at $53,350 and produces 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, which is available all the way from 1,500 r.p.m. right up to 5,250 r.p.m. However, despite the turbo’s considerable extra power, the two engines have virtually the same published fuel figures. Both are rated at 13.1 L/100 km (22 mpg Imp) in the city; the 3.7-litre is rated at 9.3 (30) on the highway, the EcoBoost 9.2 (31). In combined driving with the EcoBoost, I averaged 11.1 (25). Premium fuel is recommended for maximum power, but it will run fine on 87-octane gasoline.

2011 Lincoln MKT EcoBoost
2011 Lincoln MKT EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

Both vehicles are also configured almost the same, with a full plate of luxury features. The EcoBoost differs only in uniquely-styled wheels – both have 20-inch alloy rims – plus dual exhaust, and electric power steering to the 3.7-litre’s hydraulic handling.

Of course you can ring over those starting prices very easily, and my tester was outfitted to $65,450, thanks to such options as voice-activated navigation, power-folding rear seats, active parking assist, DVD entertainment system, and a whopping $900 for a little refrigerator/freezer, tucked between the second-row seats, that will hold seven drink cans.

The EcoBoost engine is a bit growly on acceleration, but otherwise, it’s an exceptionally well-done powerplant. The throttle is smooth and linear, and it’s very easy to moderate in stop-and-go traffic. Put your foot down hard, though, and the hefty MKT takes off like a featherweight, with no turbo lag. Ford is right on the mark with this technology: this is hefty V8 performance out of a six-banger. The six-speed transmission is equally smooth. It comes with manual shift mode, but can only be activated by the steering wheel-mounted paddles. These are the push-or-pull variety, which I don’t like; I prefer one hand for upshift, the other for down. The paddles are also large, and my hands proved too small to perform both functions on one paddle – I simply couldn’t reach from the top to the bottom of each one without taking my hand off the steering wheel.

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