Lincoln Gives Plush People Mover The Green Light image

FoMoCo’s flagship Lincoln brand recently announced plans to produce a large soft-roader, dubbed MKT, for the 2009 calendar year. You can call MKT whatever you want- crossover, people mover, glorified wagon – just don’t dare utter the SUV acronym. Hell, Mercedes classifies their similarly intentioned R-Class as a GST, or Grand Sports Tourer. With automakers striving to lower emissions and up the MPG anty, gas guzzling truck-based product connotations are the equivalent of Kevin Bacon’s outlandish Rock music in Footloose.  So yes, MKT will utilize a car platform currently used by the likes of Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS and sister vehicle/bread box Ford Flex.

Considering the historically incestuous styling relationship between Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that MKT won’t be a Flex clone with a chrome star adorning the grille. In fact, MKT will bear resemblance to performance sedan sibling MKS and the MKT concept vehicle first shown at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

“Embracing the same spirit as the concept, the Lincoln MKT’s design represents harmony in motion, balancing sculptured shapes and contours traditionally associated with beautiful cars on a crossover vehicle that offers the luxury of space and efficient, powerful performance,” said Peter Horbury, Ford’s executive director of Design for The Americas.

Navigator sales ain’t what they used to be, so a more fuel efficient [sister vehicle Flex gets up to 24 MPG on the highway] offering like MKT will give Lincoln a competitive offering to square off against the likes of Buick Enclave, Mercedes R-Class and other 7-passenger luxury soft-roaders in the pipeline. In addition to a 3.7-litre V-6, MKT also will also offer an EcoBoost 3.5-litre V-6 estimated at 340 horsepower and 340 lb.-ft. of torque. Ford says EcoBoost engines, which are turbocharged and have direct injection, deliver up to 20% better fuel economy and 15% improved emissions than larger-displacement engines.

Lincoln’s MKT Concept showed Detroit show goers another application for the domestic luxury brand’s new design aesthetic. Like the MKR concept, and new MKS flagship sedan, MKT proudly bears Lincoln’s new double-wing chrome snout. And at more than 17 feet, the concept is longer than R-Class and Escalade. The production MKT will feature three rows of seating instead of the 4 first class airline-inspired, fully reclineable seats seen in the concept. Also likely not to make production is the center console with solid-state lighting technology that allows for 3D image projection onto contoured surfaces.

The MKT Concept featured “upcycled” materials from SABIC Innovative Plastics. Valox iQ and Xenoy iQ resins were used in making the body, energy absorbers, wire bundles and glazing and the resins were made from discarded soft drink bottles. It remains to be see if the production version will be quite as green.

MKT will be produced alongside Flex at Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex in Ontario,  Canada.

More pictures from Lincoln – The Lincoln MKZ