Inside the 2016 Lincoln MKX (29 Photos)

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The larger sibling to Lincoln’s smaller MKC, the midsize MKX luxury crossover is a dramatic improvement over the truck it replaces. Whereas the old one felt like a barely nicer Ford Edge for several thousand dollars more, the new MKX is an obvious upgrade in every respect.

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Exterior styling is decidedly attractive, a more mature and grown-up look than the MKC and one that doesn’t ape Audi or Acura as much as the smaller vehicle does. It has a more distinctive look, especially along the rear fenders, and the full-width rear LED taillight helps bring a gravitas to the truck. It certainly looks sportier than the Acura MDX or Lexus RX350, with a roofline that swoops low as it falls over the heads of rear-seat passengers.

This does trim rear seat headroom a bit, especially in versions with the panoramic roof, but the sporty look pays off. The only blemish: The painted gray plastic trim along the wheel wheels and side sills that connects the front and rear bumpers looks cheap and completely out of place. It turns what is a smart and modern-looking luxury car into an odd copy of an old Subaru Outback Sport or Audi Allroad. It needs to be body-colored — get an MKX in silver or gray and it becomes less noticeable.

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Inside, the MKX feels and smells quite good, especially in the unique Black Label trim. Four Black Label options will be available for the MKX — the one I sat in was called “Triple Crown,” featuring an equestrian-inspired color scheme. The deep-caramel leather was of very high quality, and the design of the interior was equally upscale. There’s plenty of space for passengers, and the seats no longer feel too short, a problem with Ford and Lincoln vehicles in recent years. In fact, the seats in the top-of-the-line MKX include extendable seat bottoms — like BMW offers in many vehicles — that provide more length for better thigh support.

But like the outside, there is also one jarring blemish in the interior — while Lincoln’s brief exploration of touch-sensitive panels replacing traditional buttons has mercifully ended, it seems that Lincoln has forgotten what quality buttons actually feel like. Half of the interior controls actually do feel like those you’d find in a luxury car — the audio controls, for instance, have a heft and fluidity to them that suggest premium quality. But the climate control switches do not — I can actually jiggle some switches in their sockets, meaning some of the interior controls feel like a 10-year-old Kia, not a brand-new Lincoln. Perhaps this is just a pre-production quirk; we’ll reserve final judgment on this for a production car.

One area where Lincoln has absolutely nailed it is the new Revel premium audio system. Two systems are available: a 13-speaker and a 19-speaker system, the latter standard on the Black Label Package. It is stunning in its clarity and response, absolutely distortion free, with an attention to sound reproduction that has carried over from Revel’s super-expensive home audio systems. We are all curious to see how much this premium audio system will cost — Audi and Mercedes-Benz have already set precedents with super-premium systems costing thousands of dollars.

The new MKX is much more than a re-bodied Ford Edge — Lincoln has finally discovered differentiation and has crafted something unique and superior in many ways. With adequate space front and rear, and a suitably large cargo area for loading luggage or goods, Lincoln’s midsize luxury SUV should help continue the sales boost started by the MKC while providing a no-excuses competitor for the Lexus RX350 and Acura MDX.

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Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

Photo of Aaron Bragman
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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