NEWS

2011 Lincoln MKX at 2010 Detroit Auto Show

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  • Competes with: Lexus RX 350, Cadillac SRX, Acura MDX
  • Looks like: The previous MKX, but with a new front end and taillights
  • Drivetrain: 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 with six-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Summer 2010

Lincoln has made a number of significant changes to its MKX midsize crossover for the 2011 model year. The updates include exterior styling revisions, new technology features and a more powerful V-6 engine. It arrives at dealerships this summer.

The most noticeable styling changes are in front, where the MKX gets a version of what Lincoln calls its “split-wing grille.” The new grille closely resembles the one on the brand’s MKS full-size luxury sedan, and it doesn’t overwhelm the front like the design does on the MKT full-size crossover. Along with the new grille comes new headlights and more prominent front fender arches.

Once you move in front of the windshield pillar, the MKX’s profile is nearly identical to the previous model’s. However, there are some styling changes at the back. The full-width taillight design of the previous MKX has been replaced by new split taillights that use inward-facing LEDs to soften the typical pinpoint illumination these lights offer. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, but 20-inch rims are available.

The interior styling of the five-seat MKX was starting to look a little tired compared to newer luxury crossovers, but the all-new dashboard in the 2011 MKX does a lot to remedy that.

It features a flowing design that blends smoothly into the center console, and there are upscale touches like real stitching along certain seams. The chunky buttons that adorned the previous model’s center control panel have been replaced by touch-sensitive controls. The touch controls for audio volume and ventilation fan speed are particularly tricky; they both feature a horizontal plate, and you can slide your finger left or right to lower or raise the volume/fan speed. Real wood and aluminum trim is offered, and available features include a power tilt/telescoping steering column and a heated steering wheel.

Ford’s new entertainment, navigation and communication system, dubbed MyLincoln Touch in Lincoln models, is standard in the MKX and lends the interior a high-tech feel. We detailed the system’s features in a separate post, but to summarize: MyLincoln Touch aims to make all of your communication and entertainment sources easy to control while driving. To do this, MyLincoln Touch uses an 8-inch touch-screen in the middle of the dash and a new instrument panel that features a traditional analog speedometer flanked by two customizable LCD screens. The system can be operated by voice commands.

The MKX is available with front- or all-wheel drive, and the 2011 model gets a new 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 that teams with a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine runs on regular gas. Although complete fuel economy figures haven’t been released, Lincoln says the 2011 MKX will achieve 25 mpg on the highway, presumably for the front-wheel-drive model. That’s the same highway estimate as the outgoing front-drive MKX, which had 40 less horsepower.

The exterior and interior of the MKX were in need of a refresh, especially with new versions of the Lexus RX 350 and Cadillac SRX on the road. The changes for 2011 address that need and then some, as the MyLincoln Touch system offers a compelling level of in-car connectivity.

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Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Cars.com Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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