Competes with: Acura MDX, BMW X5, Lexus RX
Looks like: A larger, more sophisticated MKC
Drivetrain: 300-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 standard or 330-hp, turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 optional; six-speed automatic transmission; optional all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Fall 2015
Lincoln continues to update its lineup, following the increasingly popular compact MKC crossover with a redesigned MKX. The all-new 2016 Lincoln MKX is a larger, much more sophisticated midsize luxury crossover than the one it replaces. It has a more refined interior, additional technology features and a unique premium sound system that should set it apart from competitors like the Acura MDX and Lexus RX.
The luxury brand reportedly has a dedicated design studio that does nothing but new Lincolns all day long, and the practice is starting to show with the company’s new models. The MKX bears strong resemblance to the smaller MKC, but its greater size affords it some better proportions. The front features the now-familiar winged Lincoln grille appearing on every new model, along with some attractive detailing to the headlights. Prominent fenders front and rear stretch back to a full-width LED taillamp assembly. The only blemish on the exterior is the gray-painted lower body and wheel arch cladding, which does not match the rest of the vehicle’s upscale appearance.
Lincoln has done an admirable job upgrading the interior, with newly available 22-way adjustable front seats that can automatically shift position to help alleviate muscle fatigue by selectively inflating and deflating one of 11 air bladders. The optional seats also feature a power thigh extender and a four-way power head restraint.
The dashboard has a mix of buttons and switches, but most notable is the absence of a traditional shifter — like the MKC and MKZ, Lincoln has fitted the MKX with a push-button gear selector. Unlike the current MKX, there are no more touch-sensitive panels for any controls; everything gets dedicated buttons and knobs. The multimedia system’s touch-screen resides in the center console as before and now features improved smartphone and internet connectivity via the MyLincoln Mobile app, which allows the driver to start, lock, unlock, locate and remote-start the car.
The brand is extending the Black Label trim to the MKX as well, with four different themes available on the top-level interior package. These include two new designer interior packages: one based on a horse-racing theme, the other on 1920s Paris. The MKX also features two optional sound systems by high-end home theater system maker Revel, a 13-speaker system and a top-line 19-speaker Ultima system standard in the top Black Label trim, and optional on the lesser Reserve trim. The 13-speaker system is available on the Reserve and Select trims. The Revel system uses a proprietary surround-sound technology, offers three listening modes and a 20-channel amplifier. Unlike other high-end audio systems in some luxury brands’ cars, Revel seems to have been heavily involved in the whole design and development process, down to the positioning of the speakers in the vehicle.
Under the Hood
The standard engine in the MKX is a 3.7-liter V-6 making 300 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and driving the front wheels. All-wheel drive is optional. If you seek more power, a 330-hp, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine is available — the same one found under the hood of the Ford F-150, though tuned for more a more luxury-oriented application here. Lincoln Drive Control is optional, allowing the driver to select between Normal, Comfort and Sport modes, but Lincoln was scant on the details of what this system modifies beyond “ride enhancing and optimized performance” claims.
The new MKX features a host of electronic safety aids, including the usual list of an adaptive cruise control with automatic full-stop braking, lane-keeping assist, a blind spot information system, cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree camera that can be activated while parking. The front camera is actually mounted on an articulated mount that pops out from behind the Lincoln star badge in the grille. A full suite of sonar sensors provide front-, rear- and side-vehicle sensing systems, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking, and a system that even pulls the crossover out of a parking spot as well.
Look for the new 2016 Lincoln MKX in showrooms in fall 2015.