Lincoln MKX's Maddening Volume Sliders

By Kristin Varela  on October 26, 2012
I spent the past several days traversing Florida with my family for a long weekend retreat in Clearwater Beach. We happened to be driving the Lincoln MKX, which worked beautifully for our family in all ways but one: The touch-sensitive slider bars on MyLincoln Touch were maddening.

My kids were getting a kick out of listening to the local radio stations while my husband and I took in the ocean view on the way to our hotel. When Justin Bieber or Carly Rae Jepsen came on, the kids egged me on to crank up the volume. Then, as soon as that song was over, I'd try to turn the volume way down again so that I could actually converse with my husband about the bizarre frequency of bright-pink stucco on homes, or to add to our count of stone manatees holding mailboxes, or to marvel at people walking down the street with pet raccoons (or parrots or iguanas). I felt like an observing character in a Carl Hiaasen novel.

During the whole time in the MKX, I never quite figured out how much I needed to slide my finger across the bars to get the volume or fan speed I wanted.
Sometimes a slight slide made the volume jump too far up. At other times, a complete slide across the bar didn't register a noticeable change in volume at all. It seems like the slider bar should illuminate — a la KITT from "Knight Rider" — to show me exactly where I last set the volume. After a few frustrating attempts, I stopped using the slide bar entirely and opted for the volume toggle switch on the steering wheel.

Unfortunately, that's not an option with the fan speed for the climate control; the slider bar works (or doesn't work) in the same manner as the volume. On top of that, to operate the fan control you must first switch to the climate control screen by touching the blue corner button (which is too narrow to fit a whole fingertip), then you adjust the fan speed from there, and then you go back to the map screen by pressing the green corner of the touch-screen. That seems like a few too many steps just to turn the fan up one notch.

Lincolns, of course, have a reputation for being popular among retirees, who tend to be fiercely brand loyal. I kept trying to imagine my 69-year-old mother (a retired art teacher who ironically "winters" in Florida) calling me several times a day to walk her through adjusting the fan speed in her car.

While the MKX was comfortable, luxurious and totally pleasant in every other way, the slide bars are in desperate need of a quick evolution to be functional and usable for the general public, regardless of age, technological knowhow or propensity for decorating houses with papier-mâché tropical fish.

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Senior Family Editor Kristin Varela blends work and family life by driving her three tween-teen girls every which way in test cars.  Email Kristin