This past weekend, I had the opportunity to test drive the new 2010 Lincoln MKT, thanks to the people at Ford. The car arrived Thursday morning, a stylish black ride with three rows of seats (the third row folds down to make trunk space). I'm not sure if this could be described as an SUV or a luxury station wagon or maybe a mini-limo. When it first pulled up, my thought was "hearse," but that quickly changed once I got inside the plush interior with warm tan leather seats and high-tech gadgetry that would stymie James Bond. I tweeted my friends that all it needed was a mini-bar to complete the limo-feel (for the passengers, of course).
The first test I put it to was piling five of my coworkers in to take them all out to lunch. When we walked out to the parking lot, my co-worker Mary exclaimed, "It looks like a spaceship!"
We all piled in, set a course for a Singaporean noodle shop, and were off. The first thing I noticed was that it was hard to see out of the back window with two heads in the way. No worries, though...the MKT came equipped with back-up camera, so I could see what was happening in the rear without needing to look out the window. The two in the back said it was rather cramped, and we could not figure out how to move the seat up. They remarked that it would be comfortable for kids, but there was not quite enough legroom for adults.
On Saturday, we drove up to San Francisco to visit the Asian Art Museum, and try out the car on the highway and in city traffic. Even though it is considerable longer and wider than the car I normally drive, I thought it handled well, and was easy to drive. One feature that I liked was the collision warning, which is a small yellow light on the side view mirrors that light up when a car is approaching your blindspot.
Frank couldn't resist challenging the car by taking it down the famous Lombard Street, the "crookedest street in America." We followed a parade of cars down the s-curved street, and the car took the sharp turns in stride. I was a little bit afraid that it would be too big for the narrow, winding street, but it turned out to be a fun ride down.
Frank also made us nearly lose our lunch by lurching down the steep hills in San Francisco, which reminded me of all the police chase scenes in the old "Streets of San Francisco" TV show I loved as a kid. I still can't believe people actually live on these hills, but the car was able to climb and descend the steepest hills with no problem at all, and stop on a dime at the bottom.
Frank calculated the gas mileage from our first day out, and with a combination of city-highway driving, it came out to be a little over 20 miles per gallon, not bad, considering the size of the car.
On Sunday, we went for a longer drive, this time up to Napa to check out a few wineries and kid-friendly spots. Frank drove the first part of the day, but he said that the floor was configured in such a way that he had to twist his left leg around to make it fit, and could not get comfortable. He did not have the same problem on the passenger side. He's 6'4", so this could be a problem for taller drivers. I'm a foot shorter than he is, so it wasn't a problem for me, and I didn't see much difference from the car we normally drive. Taller drivers should check out the leg room on the drivers side to see if there is a way to configure the seat to alleviate this problem.
Some things I particularly liked about the car:
- Built-in MP3 Player Connection: I was able to plug in my iPod into the built-in jack and listen to my entire song library and podcasts. The next car I buy will definitely have this feature.
- GPS: I'm addicted to the GPS in our current car, and this one worked well. It took a little getting used to the interface, since it showed a split screen of turn directions and a map, which I found distracting, but the directions were clear, and it automatically updated the route when I decided to go a different way. Also, it showed traffic information, including explanations of where there were incidents or road closures. This was particularly helpful on the weekend the Bay Bridge was closed.
- Style: The car looks cool. I don't normally like big cars, but this one was not as obtrusive as most SUVs. The valet at Fleur de Lys restaurant said he wanted to have his picture taken in it. He was smitten. I thought that was a good sign, since this guy makes his living parking fancy cars, so for him to be impressed was a statement.
- Easy to drive: Despite the size, the Lincoln MKT handled like a car, not a van or an SUV. I enjoyed driving it.
- Floor lights: The car had some nifty floor lights for night-time driving that turned green, yellow and purple depending on the number of times you hit the button. I don't know if there is some functionality of these lights, but it looked cool, and helped me find my cell phone when I dropped it on the floor.
- Built-in window shades: I have never found rear window shades that actually fit will, so having them built-in was a nice touch, especially if you have little ones riding in the back.
- Sunroof: The sunroof was large and allowed the middle seat passenger a nice view out. When it was open, it was almost like riding in a convertible, without the annoying crazy hair blowing all over.
- Rear Seat Charging: Alex loved the fact that the rear seat had its own charging plugs so he could charge up his Nintendo DSi on his own, without having to bug the driver. It has both a regular outlet and a cigarette lighter outlet, so you can use either your home charger or car charger.
- Back seat air control: Back seat passengers can set their own level of heating and airconditioning, as can each front seat passenger. This was good for us, since I'm always hot and Frank and Alex are more often cold. Just like the Three bears, we could each find a setting that was "just right."
- Power LiftGate: To open the rear hatch, you just press a button on the key and it opens up, then press an inside button to close it. As a not-terribly-tall person, this was a great invention, since I often find myself having to jump up and down to close the rear hatch on our car. It's not a pretty sight, let me tell you.
- There was no owner's manual in the glove box, so sometimes bells would ring or the car would beep and I had no idea why or what I was doing wrong. A little more explanation would have been nice.
- Even though the back-up camera was useful, it was nearly impossible to see out of the back windows when the rear seat headrests were up. It was better when they were down, but still hard to see if a car was following close behind. Frank thought it would be useful to be able to use the rear camera as a rear-view mirror function. It may have done that, but since we didn't have an owner's manual, we didn't know how to program it to do that.
- The seats were rather hard and unforgiving. I think if we had time to configure them properly, the lumbar support and the seat angle would have been more comfortable.
- There was too much going on with the GPS and Audio systems. The car came with a 100+ page manual just on this alone, so it would take some time to really understand what all the functionality on the car. They're probably all great features, but some of them seemed complicated to program.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience of driving the Lincoln MKT. When I told my dad that I was getting the Lincoln MKT to test drive it, he said, "You can never go wrong with a Lincoln."
He's probably right about that.
Disclosure: I received the 2010 Lincoln MKT to test drive for four days at no charge. I did not receive any other compensation or incentive to write this review.