— Leslie Gordon

On one hand, its design is based on the workhorse F-150 Super Crew pickup truck. Yet the Mark LT has the great looks and driving performance usually confined to luxury automobiles. So you are probably not likely to see Mark LTs carting around loads of dirt or towing trailers filled with rusty equipment. Rather, the truck seems aimed at upscale landowners for towing their Cris-Crafts and vintage race cars.

The truck begs for space and is definitely not at home in the city. For one, the vehicle is a behemoth and it's difficult to squeeze into parking spaces, although a warning system helps alleviate this problem by beeping increasingly faster the closer you come to backing into brick walls or other immovable objects. And standing a regal 73.5 in., it's too tall to fit in some household garages. Admittedly, once underway, our grins spread ear to ear — sitting so high certainly gives one a feeling of superiority.

Outside, the Mark LT features four conventional-size doors, a chrome waterfall grille, a thick band of chrome around its length, and spiffy, thick-spoked, 18-in. alloy wheels. A nifty option — a metal-bar bed extender — attaches to the 5.5-ft truckbed. We loaded it with several 50-lb bags of water-softener salt and 60-lb bags of cement, a handy way to keep them from sliding around. You can also flip the extender onto the lowered tailgate to give the truck more usable bed space.

Headlights that stay on for a few minutes after locking the car, good for unloading in the dark, are a nice touch. On the downside, the gas cap doesn't lock, and the sticklike radio antenna looks flimsy.

Inside, I like the easy-to-read gages with white numerals and the self-explanatory instrument controls. A midconsole provides convenient storage and even includes a Palm Pilot holder. Large windows give great all-around visibility. But the truck lacks a navigation system, a staple of many luxury vehicles. And we both thought the ebony wood trim looked fake.

The Mark LT rides more like a luxury automobile than a truck. The rack-and-pinion steering is crisp and direct and the truck goes exactly where you point it. Step on the pedal and its 5.4-liter, Triton, SOHC, fuel-injected V8 engine cranks out 300 hp at 5,000 rpm. And the four-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. The truck is plenty peppy and not even its 5,300-lb curb weight holds it back, except going up the steepest hills. However, its boxy shape lets it get buffeted-about in windy conditions. And the truck guzzles gas at a rate of 19-mpg highway and 15-mpg city.

Touted for its towing abilities, the Mark LT has a stiff frame and body, and a laterally stiff rear suspension that resists side loads. The tester's optional trailer-tow package lets the vehicle pull 8,900 lb.

A Personal Safety System regulates the vehicle's air bags and safety-belt pretensioner, according to crash severity. Surprisingly, side-impact and curtain-side air bags are not available.

The 2006 Lincoln Mark LT 4 2 comes standard for about $39,200. Our tester, with options such as a 3.73-ratio limited-slip axle ($300), power moonroof ($995), and bed extender ($195), came to about $43,700.00.