There’s been a push in the auto industry over the past decade or so to make all vehicles sportier. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that per se but it has created a vacuum in the more traditional luxury car segment; one that Lincoln is happy to fill with vehicles like their all-new MKX.
Brembo brakes, summer-use tires and driver selectable track settings are permeating vehicles well outside of the high performance segment. The flashy appearance, firm ride quality and interface complexity are a turn off for a large number, of particularly older, shoppers. The newly named Lincoln Motor Company is developing vehicles in the spirit of elegant luxury with modern performance and this next generation MKX certainly fits that mold. It’s a 5-passenger midsize crossover that shares its underpinnings with the Ford Edge, but elevates the vehicle through Lincoln polish, sophistication and a bevy of high-end technologies.
As Lincoln sadly shows the split-wing grille the door, the MKX is one of their last vehicles to retain it, possessing unique American style. Coupled with the dazzling White Platinum paint, stout 21” polished wheels with Lincoln center caps, jewel-like LED headlamps and the full-width taillamp, this MKX is a design of refined grace with just enough personality to keep it intriguing.
Approach the MKX and the welcome lighting comes to life including the very cool logo projection. Step-in is at an agreeable height and the soft leather, 22-way adjustable driver’s seat instantly ingratiates itself. Push button start and unique push button gear shift get things started. This is a quiet, uncluttered, simple to use cabin that provides respite to the weary; the perfect antidote to nerve racking commutes. The MKX is the first Lincoln to be fitted with the 19-speaker Revel audio system – an audiophile’s dream. And though this early build MKX is using the outgoing though serviceable MyLincoln Touch system, current models come with the new Sync3 setup.
Ford’s latest EcoBoost engine can be found in their pickups and crossovers and it makes its Lincoln debut here in the MKX. It’s a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 making 335 horsepower and 380 pound feet of torque. Available as a $2,000 option over the standard V6, it’s worth every penny. It’s one of the most impressive small displacement engines I’ve driven with high levels of refinement and power oozing out of every cylinder. The MKX will never leave you wanting for more hustle. It accepts regular gas and nets the same 19mpg in combined driving as the old 3.7-liter unit.
Adaptive steering is optional. Beyond just adjusting the effort required to move the steering wheel based on vehicle speed, Adaptive Steering also continuously tweaks the steering ratio – that’s the correlation between the driver’s steering input and the steering angle of the front wheels. Traditionalists will find it a bit funky and though I warmed to the idea as the week went on, I’m not sure I’d spend the $625 on it. Plus, it made some unusual sounds on my tester.
Thanks to the continuously controlled dampers, the ride quality is stellar, keeping the MKX unruffled over all road conditions. Plus, with Lincoln Drive Control, switching to S activates Sport mode which quells unwanted body motions, tightens the steering and invigorates the engine via the 6-speed automatic transmission. How about a 0-to-60mph time of 6-seconds flat? It’s that kind of capable. It’s a wonderfully relaxed drive yet utterly competent in changing directions. However it would be nice if the Drive Control settings were more easily accessible.
This is the top-trim – a fully loaded MKX AWD Reserve with $20,000 of optional equipment. If you’re into the new safety tech, like Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection it’s all here. Plus, the 360 degree camera is one of those features that once you use it you wonder how you’ve ever lived without it. Parking? Perpendicular, parallel, in or out – the MKX does it for you and does it easily and perfectly every time. The heated and cooled front seats are equipped with quiet massage and more adjustments than you’ve ever seen, the rear seats are heated, spacious and have a tilt function and the cargo area – accessible via foot activation – is large with underfloor storage and equipped with switches to drop the 2nd row. The optional inflatable seat belts continue to be cumbersome to click, there are power outlets back here but no USB ports and the seats don’t drop completely flat. All-in-all, it exudes high quality and looks rich and modern with changeable ambient lighting.
Totaling $63,895 as-tested, there’s about a $14,000 premium over a fully-loaded Edge Sport – money applied to a host of upscale features and a gravitas the Ford can’t match. If you find the German entries to be a bit buttoned-up and cold, the MKX provides a warm, inviting environment luxury SUV drivers will appreciate.