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Short Take Road Tests
Lincoln tries the pickup truck again. This time, they forget to carpet the bed, and people actually buy it!
BY JARED GALL, April 2007
What is this thing? A Lincoln pickup? The Blackwood was the last Lincoln pickup, but don’t feel bad if you don’t remember it, since Lincoln only sold about three. The Mark LT is, presumably, supposed to be more of a gentleman’s F-150, a useful pickup for the polished.
In some social circles, a Ford truck could imply that the driver might lack refinement, might have a Skoal ring on the back pocket of his best slacks, and may be found on any given Saturday night spinning donuts in a muddy field, Bud Ice in hand, hanging out the window and screaming “yee haw!” Does a Lincoln Mark LT say anything different, or does it just say “this sucka just spent an extra four grand on his Ford?”
The interior of the Mark LT says “Ford” but with a Lincoln accent. That’s not quite as sexy as an Italian accent, but at least isn’t quite the elderly rasp it used to be. The dash and center stack only look Lincoln in color availability, as the layout and materials are the same as in an F-150. Think of it as a Ford dressed for a black-tie dinner. But you get Lincoln’s elongated crosshair emblem on the steering wheel, center console, and seatbacks to remind the color blind that this ain’t no F-150. Well, it is, but, you want passengers to know you spent more money on this here baby buggy.
They won’t know it from the performance. Mechanically, this truck is identical to the F-150. The Cadillac Escalade EXT at least gets more horsepower than the Chevrolet it’s based on (403 compared to 366 from the Chevy Avalanche’s top engine) and two more cogs in the slushbox. The Mark LT has the same 300-hp V-8 that tops the F-150 range attached to the same four-speed automatic, with the same lazy 8.8 second 0-to-60-mph time and the same 16.7-second quarter-mile run.
A headlining testimony to the 5.4’s ineptitude is its inability to indulge us in that redeeming pickup shenanigan, gratuitous rear wheelspin. With 2540 of the Mark LT’s 5900 pounds on the rear axle, all the V-8 could manage without punishing brake torque was a quick chirp, as though maybe we had run over a bird’s nest.
Once the Mark LT is under way, it suffers from the same jittery, decidedly un-Lincoln ride as the F-150, mainly because that’s what it is. Bigger bumps and potholes get the F-1LT bounding like an unladen pickup truck (hmm…), and there is none of that cushy, motion-sickness-inducing float that the Family Feud survey says is the number one signature Lincoln attribute.
Although the Mark LT is not the only Lincoln with a solid rear axle—that bit of old-school Americana, the Town Car, still rocks the rigid rear—it is the only Lincoln with a solid rear axle supported by leaf springs and meant to support an additional 1430 pounds in the bed, and there is no place for floaty when you’re hauling 1430 pounds of diamond-encrusted bingo balls. The Town Car might have a spacious trunk, but to get that much weight in it, you’d have to be hauling something pretty dense. Plutonium, perhaps? Since we’re so close to Canada, we’ve got to keep in mind that it might make for a sticky border crossing.
Wait, you never said how it differs from the F-150!
So, it rides like an F-150, drives like an F-150, and feels like an F-150. Just an F-150? Awfully close. But close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, certainly not in upmarket pricing. Up front is where the big difference lies. And we mean big. This hoss wears a chrome Lincoln waterfall that makes Borat’s bathing suit look subtle. It’s the people outside of this truck who notice your extra dough. One afternoon after we parked the Mark LT, a neighbor who happened to be walking by commented, “Man, that’s a real nice truck!” We doubt he would have noticed a Ford. This is an F-150 that gets attention.
For $2000 to $4000 above a comparably equipped Ford, that’s expensive attention. A 4x4 Mark LT with the longer bed—78 inches instead of 67—like ours, starts at $42,450. A short-box two-wheel-drive truck starts at $39,050. Options on our tester started with an additional $1495 for 20-inch chrome wheels—a must on any serious work truck—and another $4495 for the “Monochrome Elite Package,” (only available on black trucks) which deletes the chrome lower body cladding and adds black bumpers and grille surround for a more formal look. It also adds power mirrors, pedals, rear window, and moonroof. A few nickels and dimes here and there for a larger fuel tank and skid plates, and we came out at a hearty $48,995 for a truck that still didn’t have dual-zone climate control—not available on the Mark LT—or traction control.
Really, we’re trying. But we don’t get it.
As popular as personalization is in the full-size truck market, a couple grand over an F-150 is not a terrible price for the exclusivity the Mark LT buys. And, considering how few truck drivers really need the utility of a pickup, the Mark LT can at least do what owners won’t use it to do just as well as an F-150 can. We’ve never pretended the pickup market was a purely logical one.
Ford will sell hundreds of thousands of F-150s this year—more sales than some companies manage from their entire lineup. Lincoln will do ten, maybe fifteen thousand Mark LTs. Do you want just another F-150, or do you want a “real nice truck?” We wouldn’t really want either one, but if we had to choose, some of us would take the nicer of the two. That’s certainly not saying we get excited over it, but we’re trying to understand.
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