David E. Davis, Jr. 1930-2011

David E. Davis, Jr.

David E. Davis, Jr., the founder of modern automotive journalism, is dead. He was 80.

Regular readers of TireKicker know how much I admired David. One of my life's regrets will be that we never met.  There's a lot to say about David and I think it's said best by Car and Driver's Eddie Alterman. Please click here.


A few hours later, and there are more things about David E. I think are worth reading.  Autoweek's Steven Cole Smith does a good warts-and-all look at Davis, including a reference to a video you can watch here on TireKicker, where David told of the dream he had involving once-protege' Jean Jennings and a piano falling from a passing jet.

There's Jean Jennings herself, who wrote what at the time wasn't an obit for the just-out 25th anniversary issue of Automobile about her career with and after DED, Jr...and her side of the shift in power at that magazine that led to David's piano dream.

And there's Peter DeLorenzo in a two-days early update of Autoextremist, who paints the bigger picture and makes it starkly clear that, despite the talents of Eddie Alterman and many others, with the passing of David E., the days of the American car magazine as we know it are numbered and the digits are few.

Finally, let's remember the man through his own work and words. His defining moment...the 1968 review of the BMW 2002, which changed automotive journalism from analytics to advocacy and in which David threw down the gauntlet, demanding to know why America couldn't build a sedan like this (he was only a decade ahead of the hipsters and two ahead of the rest of the car-buying public).

And, from 15 years later, the marvelous lunacy that happened on his watch (complete with sidebar by DED, Jr. himself)...as most of his writing staff take 8 loaned press vehicles south of the border for sun, fun, dysentery, public urination, bribery, floods and one dead cow. It took 26 years for Top Gear and its Defense Department-sized budget to finally topple this as my favorite piece of automotive journalism.

It was one hell of a ride. Thanks, David. Rest well.


2011 Lincoln MKT Review

Front 3/4 view of silver 2011 Lincoln MKT at sunset
Instrument cluster of 2011 Lincoln MKT

Rear 3/4 view of black 2011 Lincoln MKT
From the back, in black, it looks like a 1940's hearse.

For several thousand dollars less, you can get a Ford Flex...which is what this is based on.

The above two lines are the sum total of the downside to the Lincoln MKT.

There's a ton of upside.

First of all, for better or worse, Lincoln's breaking some styling rules and creating distinctive automobiles. And since the new family grille is a modern interpretation of 40s Lincolns, I suppose the "40s hearse" rear-end isn't a surprise.

Number two, 16 city/22 highway (the EPA estimate, which, for the first time in a long time in a Ford Motor Company product, we didn't achieve or exceed), while not great, is also not bad for something this big, with this kind of power. The MKT packs the twin-turbo EcoBoost engine...and, in fact, 16/22 is the mileage cited for the Flex when equipped with EcoBoost.

And as for the MKT/Flex comparison, well, Lincoln deserves a major pat on the back for putting distance between the two vehicles. This is shared-platform as opposed to "badge engineering". You could drive the MKT and Flex back-to-back (which Ford was brave enough to allow a group of journalists, yours truly included, to do around the fall '09 introduction of the MKT) and spend the next few minutes remarking on how they really are completely different vehicles.

That price difference? Well, it's there...a base MKT starts about where a loaded Flex leaves off ($44,000) and it's not difficult to load an MKT beyond the $50,000 point with 2nd row bucket seats (in place of the standard bench), a 2nd row console with a built-in refrigerator, and Active Park Assist. Put simply, it parks the car automatically. Yes, Lexus got there first, a couple of years ago, but the system wasn't flawless. We've used the Lincoln's ourself. It is.

But here's the thing: It's that distance between the two vehicles I mentioned two paragraphs up. You have to have X-ray vision and a set of blueprints to know that there's commonality with the Flex. The Lincoln is a cut above in style, luxury, percieved quality and cutting-edge tech...including voice-activated navigation. Save home, say "home" and you're guided on your way.

Our most recent test vehicle came courtesy Sanderson Lincoln/Volvo in Phoenix.

Here's a very cool promotional video about the MKT from Lincoln and Ford Motor Company: