CARMEL, CALIFORNIA - Lincoln's MKT three-row crossover joins the lineup next year as a 2010 model, Mark Fields confirmed Friday. Based on the Ford Flex crossover platform (derived from Ford Taurus/Lincoln MKS, which itself is derived from Volvo S60/S80), it will be offered with a standard 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V-6 and an optional 3.5-liter turbocharged direct-injection EcoBoost V-6 making "an estimated 340 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque."
The MKT, which Lincoln previewed with a concept version at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in January (the concept is pictured), comes back to Detroit with the production model reveal in January 2009, an indication that it could go on sale earlier than next fall.
Like the concept, the production MKT will have the '41 Continental-style bow-wave grille first seen on the MKS and destined to become a Lincoln signature face, a chamfered surface parallel to the beltline and a thick c-pillar, with very little other than overall dimensions to hint at its connection with the Flex. It will come in six- or seven-passenger variants, like the Flex, and will add a plethora of high-tech conveniences, including Blind Spot Monitoring and Cross Traffic Alert System. The latter uses two multibeam radar modules in the rear quarter panels that alert the driver with an indicator light on the corresponding outside mirror when another vehicle enters the blind-spot zone.
There's plenty more to reveal, but Ford has embargoed the information until the Detroit show.
Fields lists the Acura MDX as MKT's main competitor, as well as the Audi Q7 and Mercedes M-Class, with a price in the low- to mid-$40s. Fully equipped Buick Enclaves may also complete (like the Enclave and the Flex, the MKT will be offered with front- or all-wheel-drive), but Fields clearly hopes to re-establish Lincoln as a cut above Buick, even if it's no longer a direct competitor for Cadillac.
Meanwhile, Fields acknowledges that Mercury will go after less volume than Lincoln, with fewer models, but still at lower prices. There's no 2010 Sable replacement in the works, which means that in the near term, with Grand Marquis and Mountaineer facing phase-out, Mercury will consist of Mariner and Milan. While Ford would like to position them as upscale from the Ford Escape and Fusion, they're likely to continue to be distinguished by different grilles and trim-work, with perhaps base trim levels available only on the Fords. Mercury does well with women and minority buyers, and with customers seeking more personalized Lincoln-Mercury dealership treatment and those who wouldn't consider visiting a Ford dealer.