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Mark LT truck carries Lincoln prestige

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May 18, 2004|by TIM SPELL/Motor Matters

Lincoln once again is fitting a vehicle with a cargo box. Unlike the manufacturer's discontinued Blackwood sport-utility truck, the recently announced 2006 Mark LT is a bona fide pickup with a cargo box suited for real-world work duties.

Mark LT credentials go well beyond the cargo box, and there's a strong reason why the luxury truck can be trusted to perform work-truck duties.

"It's all possible because we're embracing the new F-150 as our design and engineering launch pad," said Darryl Hazel, Lincoln-Mercury president.

Ford's new-generation F-150 half-ton pickup is a natural foundation on which to create a Lincoln pickup. Making matters more convenient for its Lincoln division, Ford's freshly styled F-150 moves a notch upscale for 2004. The pickup is something dealers have been asking Lincoln to build for a long time, Hazel said, and it's expected to arrive in showrooms in just over a year.

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Success of the Navigator full-size luxury sport-utility vehicle, introduced six years ago, gives Lincoln confidence in the Mark LT's ability to lure buyers, he said, noting the pickup also is a credible premium Lincoln product.

"They call it the 'Mark' because that's the name that Lincoln has traditionally reserved for the best the brand has to offer luxury customers," Hazel said. "It stands for the ultimate in personal luxury transportation, and the Mark LT certainly is a statement in luxury."

Ford's top-line F-150 SuperCrew is the model Lincoln is transforming into a truck. It wears four full-size doors and is fitted with a 5.5-foot-long cargo box. The Mark LT will be available in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations.

Power is supplied by a 5.4-liter Triton V-8 engine that delivers 300 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 365 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3,750 rpm. This healthy torque boost provides a 9,500-pound towing capacity.

Along with performance, consumers buying full-size luxury vehicles demand a premium look separating their vehicles from others on the road. Typically, Lincoln buyers want bold-yet-elegant flair, and Hazel promises the Mark LT's exterior styling delivers ample pizzazz.

"The Mark LT is going to stand out on the road," Hazel said. In the manufacturer's traditional style, in-your-face chrome treatments are used to convey the Mark LT's "Lincoln-ness." In the spirit of the Navigator and other big Lincolns, much of that gleam is generated by a dominant signature waterfall grille. This grille features a new-design solid center with an 8-by-2-inch Lincoln star emblem centerpiece.

A tall band of chrome adorns the lower body sides and chrome bumpers continue the wraparound effect. Door and tailgate handles, exhaust tip and cargo-box tie-down bars add the contrast of chrome to the choice of five exterior colors. Flash also comes with massive, chrome-plated, seven-spoke 20-inch wheels with a Lincoln star emblazoned into the centers.

Lincoln tradition also calls for luxurious interiors. Working off a new-generation F-150 layout, which has raised the bar for pickup interiors, designers push the elegance envelope with a "harmonious balance of materials."

A key element is lavish use of what Lincoln describes as a "lightly colored, velvety leather" with piping outlining the seats. This scratch-proof leather sheathes the seats, headliner, door panels, center console and steering wheel. Complementing the rich leather is plush sheepskin flooring.

Contemporary flair is added with a metallic finish theme. For instance, a "sterling matte silver finish" is used on portions of the instrument panel, center stack, center console, cupholders and steering wheel.

The instrument cluster, which features darkened chrome gauge bezels and a textured aluminum background that matches the central control panel, is a design showpiece. Traditional-style analog instruments grab the eye with white numerals on a black field, illuminated with white lighting. Along with bumper-to-bumper luxury, Hazel emphasizes a practical LT plus, critical to consumer appeal: "It fits in just about any garage," he said.

Scheduled to go on sale in early 2005, the Mark LT is one of five new Lincolns that will be introduced. While the concept pickup making the auto show circuits is a good representation of the production Mark LT, Lincoln still is in the process of refining the truck and determining its in-the-showroom content.

The Mark LT will hit the streets looking like a full-fledged Lincoln, Hazel said, with the "perfect balance of elegant design and highly functional engineering."

Tim Spell is the automotive writer for the Houston Chronicle Cars & Trucks section.

Copyright Motor Matters, 2004

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