KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Near Disney World in Central Florida, we're cruising along the West Osceola Parkway in a super-sleek and powerful crossover utility vehicle from Lincoln badged as the 2014 MKT EcoBoost.
This one's simply stunning to see, seemingly all bright chrome and glossy sheetmetal sculpted to a sensuous form that's obviously designed to dazzle the eye.
A bold design for the long-body wagon focuses on the prominent prow crowned with a double-wing grille which serves as a modern homage to Lincoln's 1941 Continental. The grille is flanked by piercing optics of projector-type HID headlamps wrapping around front corners.
MKT's package shape consists of a brief prow and extra long cabin with a high beltline. Flanks reveal slight bulges around enormous wheels with a subtle character line etched into the leading edge of each front fender and drawn rearward in a gradual rise to the tail.
Essentially, the MKT amounts to a long mid-size CUV which rides on the stretched platform of a sport-tuned front-wheel-drive (FWD) sedan. Its monocoque structure unites chassis and body into a cohesive unit that remains extremely rigid when steered along a curvy course.
Wheelbase is also long -- 117.9 inches. The package stretches for 207.6 inches when measured from nose to tail, and it's quite wide at 76 inches with the roof rising 67.4 inches high from the pavement.
In the cabin there's ample space for three rows of seats to haul as many as seven passengers. The layout plants a pair of bucket seats up front divided by a multi-function console and followed by two captain's chairs (or optional 3-seat bench), then a rear bench for two more riders. Second-row seats fold on the seatbacks and tumble forward via a one-tap mechanism (or optional power controls) to make access easy to the third bench. The third-row standard 50/50-split bench folds and forms a flat floor for the cargo bay, which has 39.6 cubic feet of room with rear seats down or 75.9 cubic feet with second-row and third-row seats folded.
An optional compressor-driven refrigerator tucks into the rear console. With five-quart capacity, the chill box holds seven 12-ounce cans, four half-liter bottles or two 20-ounce bottles.
Another option in the cabin is a multi-panel Panoramic Vista Roof. It consists of a tilt-and-slide front roof panel which opens like a conventional moonroof and rear fixed glass panels of vast dimensions, plus available power-operated shades over the roof portals to block glare.
Decor for the cabin is understated in a retro-Lincoln theme with luxurious materials in satin aluminum, soft leathers and real wood plus occasional glints of chrome. And there's heavy content in luxury goods.
Lincoln constructs the MKT for 2014 in two special editions, each with a different V6 engine.
Entry issue MKT stocks a naturally-aspirated 3.7-liter aluminum V6 with DOHC (dual overhead cams), performance-enhancing Ti-VVT (twin independent variable camshaft timing) technology and FWD traction. The V6 ties to a 6-speed electronic automatic SelectShift transaxle with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the MKT 3.7/FWD come in at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
Top issue MKT EcoBoost totes a twin-turbocharged (2TC) 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and achieves 365 hp at 5500 rpm with torque of 350 lb-ft at 3500 rpm. The twin-turbo EcoBoost engine also connects to a 6-speed electronic automatic SelectShift transaxle with paddle shifters and provides all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction.
MKT features electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) and MKT Ecoboost adds suspension continuously controlled damping with optional Lincoln Drive Control for driver-select modes (Sport/Normal/Comfort).
Active safety systems range from 4-wheel disc brakes tied to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) plus a traction control system (TCS) and electronic stability control (ESC) via Lincoln's AdvanceTrac anti-skid device with Roll Stability Control (RSC).
High-tech options include Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Park Assist and Lincoln Sync with voice-activated control over phones, media players and USB storage devices.
Lincoln's price points begin at $43,050 for the 2014 MKT or $45,045 for the MKT EcoBoost.