Now that Lincoln is the sole remaining luxury brand within the Ford Motor Company, it's now time to give it back some sort of identity. The product line-up has been aging and sales have been falling for the last few years, so rejuvenation is in order.
The first steps Ford is taking involve hiring a new designer. Max Wolff has become the director of design for the Lincoln brand; he previously worked for General Motors and helped skin the new 2013 Cadillac XTS. Ford also opened a creative agency in New York dedicated to revitalizing the brand image of Lincoln.
Until fresh products roll off the assembly lines, such as the 2013 Lincoln MKZ midsize sedan later this year, the MKS and MKT benefit from some cosmetic tweaks as well as some mechanical and technological updates.
The 2013 Lincoln MKT crossover, now entering its fourth year of production, will offer only one powertrain choice in Canada. The base 3.7L V6 is dropped, and the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is standard; it gets a 10-hp increase, now developing 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and all-wheel drive manage the muscle.
The MKT is very quick for a 5,000-lb truck. The twin-turbo V6 serves up plenty of low-rpm torque, and it's quite amusing to witness such a big vehicle climb up to speed so rapidly.
When a country road curve comes up, however, you must not forget that it's a 5,000-lb truck. Actually, it handles pretty well for a six-passenger crossover, thanks in part to its low stance and competent chassis.
Other mechanical highlights
A new, electronically adjustable suspension is part of what the brand calls Lincoln Drive Control. The driver can choose between three drive modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Unfortunately, you must dig through the trip computer menus to configure it; not very practical while driving. On the other hand, you can configure separate settings for when the shift lever is in 'D' or in 'S'.
We tried all three settings during our short drive, and didn't notice any difference. We'll have to further investigate during a full road test this summer.
Like the 2013 Lincoln MKS, the MKT gets a quicker steering assist ratio and a switch over to an electric power assist instead of the old hydraulic system. The result makes the vehicle more pleasing to drive, giving a sportier edge to it. In addition, the brake discs, front and rear, are larger in diameter.
On the outside, the MKT receives a mild facelift and now boasts Lincoln's new corporate face. The grille design is inspired by the spread wings of an eagle, and the lower bumper portion has also been reworked. Besides new alloy wheels, everything else is pretty much carried over, so distinguishing a 2013 model from the older editions is not that obvious.
Inside the MKT, you'll notice a new multifunction steering wheel, a new instrument panel, new door panel switchgear and a new centre console that houses those finger-swipe volume and fan speed controls found in the MKX (and the 2013 MKS). What was ever wrong with good ol' rotary dials?
MyLincoln Touch is now standard, and it's the revised version that Ford states is more intuitive to use. We didn't really have time to fiddle around with it.
Lots of features
Standard features on the 2013 Lincoln MKT include, among other things, a power liftgate, rear A/C and heated second-row seats, power-adjustable and ventilated front seats, a panoramic glass roof, leather upholstery, SYNC, a rearview camera, adaptive HID headlights and 19" alloy wheels.
Base price is $50,550 before taxes, freight and delivery charges; that's $3,100 less than the 2012 MKT EcoBoost, and only $400 more than the previous base model.
For an extra $6,000, the Elite package adds a power-folding third-row bench, ventilated second-row seats, touchscreen navigation, a 700-watt THX II sound system, a blind-spot monitor, a heated steering wheel, Active Park Assist, adaptive cruise control and a new lane-keeping assist system with driver drowsiness detection.
Other options include second-row inflatable seat belts, 20" alloys, a power panoramic sunroof, a second-row refrigerated console and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
Should current MKT owners flock to Lincoln showrooms and trade in? Not really. Yes, many improvements were made to the 2013 model, but like the MKS, the MKT is currently in a transition period between the old and the new Lincoln. In the first four months of 2012, its sales have dropped by 22% over the previous year; we'll see if the improved steering feel, added features and lower price of the 2013 MKT can turn things around.
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