Home » The Lincoln MKT Ecoboost Is The 365-Horsepower Family Hauler You Forgot About

The Lincoln MKT Ecoboost Is The 365-Horsepower Family Hauler You Forgot About

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It’s safe to say that internet car enthusiasts love the Ford Flex Ecoboost. Not only does it feel like the last gasp of the great American station wagon, it’s far more potent than most people would expect. However, allow me to present something even better. To jog your memory a little, the Flex has a posher brother, and it’s nearly mastered the art of invisibility. Sure, the Lincoln MKT looks a bit like a hearse, but not only does it have a nicer interior than the Flex, it rides better, comes with more toys, and is readily available used with a turbocharged slug of torque courtesy of the 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6.

Perhaps the best part of the package, even beyond the brisk acceleration and bountiful amenities, is the fact that the MKT Ecoboost seems to have escaped the used crossover resale bump. While a whole bunch of popular crossovers are holding strong values, this forgotten crossover is surprisingly cheap on the second-hand market. How cheap? Read on.

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Welcome back to Beige Cars You’re Sleeping On, a weekly series in which we raise the profile of some quiet greats. We’re talking vehicles that are secretly awesome, but go unsung because of either a boring image or the lack of an image altogether.

The formula for creating a premium car brand on the cheap is rather simple — take a mainline model, change the styling, ritz up the interior, and sell it under a different make and model name. Even today, the bulk of the Lincoln lineup is like that, and the MKT was no exception. Underneath the wagon-like styling sat the bones of a Ford Flex, which in turn recycled the platform of the old Taurus X, which was just a facelifted Freestyle, which actually cribbed its basic underpinnings from Volvo, then cut costs. While this doesn’t sound like an auspicious start, a solid platform is a solid platform, and the MKT made the most of it.

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We’re talking about a practical three-row crossover with seating for either six or seven, solid passive safety, and plenty of cargo space. In the Flex, that combined with brick-like styling to create a cult classic, but the MKT put on a weirder facade and took things to another level. Not only was it roughly six inches longer than the Flex, it also took equipment levels to new heights.

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Second-row passengers could be pampered by available heated and cooled captain’s chairs, a luxury that’s only now starting to become a killer app in the three-row crossover segment. Oh and yes, you could get a fridge with that, perfect for family road trips. Likewise, while the available 12-speaker audio system in the Flex was good for the segment and era, the available 14-speaker system in the MKT was a cut above, offering proper 5.1 surround sound and the weird flex (heh) of THX certification. Hey, that’s what a Lincoln badge gets you.

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Oh, and it also gets you a whole bunch of nice little touches, from nicer interior materials to second-row side window sunshades to standard heated and cooled front seats. If you can get around the weird looks, the MKT just offers a whole lot more kit than the Flex, but uses familiar mechanicals, so replacement parts are generally common and inexpensive.

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While the standard 3.7-liter V6 engine was a cut above the Flex’s standard naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6, the one you want is the Ecoboost model. It features the same 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 as the Taurus SHO, and outputs are solid. From 2010 until 2012, power figures stood at 355 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. from 1,500 rpm to 5,250 rpm, but a 2013 facelift saw those figures revised to 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive, the early MKT Ecoboost ran from zero-to-60 mph in 6.1 seconds and through the quarter mile in 14.6 seconds at 94 mph during Car And Driver instrumented testing, and acceleration figures aren’t the only things that impressed the magazine.

The MKT is not for carving up back roads, but body motions are nevertheless well controlled and the ride is very smooth—and better than the Flex’s. Bumps, dips, and broken pavement rarely seemed to upset the chassis or necessitate excessive steering corrections as they did for the Q7, and the brakes stopped the hefty crossover well despite a soft and squishy pedal.

Yep, the Lincoln MKT Ecoboost is a prime highway vessel for the entire entourage, and if you ever want to drop that zero-to-60 mph time to less than six seconds, all you need to do is make the right calls to uncork the bottle. Michigan-based Livernois Motorsports has dialed in a tune good for an extra 95 wheel horsepower and 130 lb.-ft. of torque at the wheels on 93 octane pump fuel, staggering numbers that can turn one of these things into an unassuming juggernaut. Just check out the video below, in which a tune-only MKT Ecoboost runs from zero-to-60 mph in the low five-second range.

Enticing, right? You’re probably wondering what sort of coin gets you into one of these lavish family haulers, and let me tell you, it’s less than you might think. Because everybody forgot these things existed, used values are astonishingly low, to the point where you can usually pick one up for less than a similarly-aged Toyota RAV4.

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For instance, here’s a 2015 model with 86,435 miles on the clock up for sale in Indianapolis for just $13,900. Sure, it might have a minor hit on its Carfax, but for a family car to drive into the ground, that’s no big deal. It really makes you wonder if it’s possible to get more family hauler for less.

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Let’s say you want to get absolutely pristine with it. Well, here’s a loaded 2019 MKT Ecoboost up for sale at a Mazda dealership in Enterprise, Ala. It has just 45,015 miles on the clock, a clean history report, and looks damn near new, so do you care to guess how much this five-year-old luxury crossover is listed for? That’s right $24,824. What an absolute steal.

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In the other direction, maybe you’re one to buy cheaper examples, and you aren’t scared to potentially get a little greasy. If it’s higher-mileage you’re looking for, check out this 2010 MKT Ecoboost up for sale in Troy, Mich. Sure, it may have 97,714 miles on the clock, but it’s listed for a mere $9,975. Sure, it doesn’t have the optional second-row captain’s chairs or the fridge, but that’s so much crossover for the money.

By now, you’re probably wondering what the catch is. Well, the biggest common issue with these cars is just lack of maintenance. The MKT Ecoboost routes a ton of output through its six-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive power transfer unit, and if the fluids in both of those aren’t changed regularly, expensive problems can arise. Remember, lifetime fluid means your car will be junk when that fluid breaks down. Otherwise, the MKT Ecoboost largely just suffers from typical older car problems. As miles piles on, bushing and anti-roll bar end links wear, shocks wear out, and you just have to do the typical maintenance expected from any car. With a little care and feeding, these things are great for the long-haul.

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So, if you want a practical and surprisingly punchy daily driver and have the space for a crossover that’s noticeably more than 200 inches long, why not take a good look at a Lincoln MKT Ecoboost? Sure, the styling might not be to everyone’s tastes, but the visual controversy’s softened over the years, and the end result is a ton of vehicle for the money.

(Photo credits: Lincoln, Autotrader sellers)

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Mark M
Mark M
21 days ago

Ugly as sin… That said, I owned not one, but two EB Flexes (Flexi?). The first one was rear ended by a 16-year-old and i loved that car so much I went out and bought another to replace it. They were the perfect family haulers. Like a minivan without sliding doors and 365HP. The Limited had dual pane glass and excellent NVH. I would have bought a third if they kept building them and did a proper refresh/update. Man, I miss those cars.

G.A. Miller
G.A. Miller
23 days ago

This is a compelling car on paper. But it’s hard to get past the looks, and that it it is exclusively associated with funeral homes and airport limousines riding the single HOV lane at exactly the speed limit outside of Atlanta.

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
28 days ago

i loved these things but only the facelifted ones. the best part was the mkt was comfy as all get out, fast and 2016 onwards it even had sync 3/apple carplay

Erik McCullough
Erik McCullough
29 days ago

Do they offer any good looking ones? Because that is just an awful looking car; I bet it would lose a beauty contest to a 1st gen Aztek. Can maybe the Bishop do something about that? Or at least tell us what they could have done.

ZeGerman
ZeGerman
29 days ago

Ah yes, the Lincoln Hearse. Nope, I choose to forget about this thing. It’s so ugly I don’t care what engine it has.

TDI in PNW
TDI in PNW
1 month ago

It’s better that I go back to forgetting. My eyes.

TheFanciestCat
TheFanciestCat
1 month ago

I always had a bit of a soft spot for these. Plus, the driver doesn’t have to look at it. The rest of us do.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 month ago

I don’t think I saw one of these on the road that wasn’t part of some black car fleet. Can tell by the tags around here.

The Mark
The Mark
1 month ago

Absolutely hideous, but nice to drive.

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