Ford and Lincoln-Mercury have not always done a stellar job of differentiating between common products.
There is, for example, no compelling reason to buy a Mercury Sable instead of its Ford twin, the Taurus. Ditto the Lincoln MKZ, the luxury version of that car.
Not so with the Lincoln MKX (yes, this Lincoln penchant for naming vehicles MK-some initial is absurd and confusing, but we’ve beaten that dead horse). The MKX is a sport ute built on the same platform as the Ford Edge, and while they share a basic shape, there’s no mistaking the Lincoln’s flash. This is a great-looking vehicle, arguably the most handsome SUV on the market, and at night especially, our glow-in-the-dark test MKX, painted a lustrous “White Chocolate Tricoat” (a $495 option), sporting chromed 20-inch aluminum wheels (part of a $1,095 option package) and lit across the rear hatch with its trademark neonlike taillights — well, it would have been hard to sneak up on somebody.
The MKX interior isn’t quite as successful as its outside, but there’s still plenty of wood and leather and luxury features, such as heated and cooled seats, a superb sound system, and — thanks to a $4,595 “Elite Package” — a “panorama vista roof,” a voice-activated navigation system, and still another upgrade to the sound system. Add the $1,295 “Ultimate Package,” which gets you adaptive headlights that turn to the left or right with the steering wheel, plus a power rear liftgate, and you are lacking for nothing. You are also at $43,575 on the window sticker, and that’s for a front-wheel-drive MKX: If you want all-wheel-drive, that’ll be an additional $1,750.
While all-wheel-drive is a nice safety feature — don’t mistake the MKX for an off-roader even with that feature — there are plenty of other safety features standard on the vehicle, including stability control, side airbags with an inflating safety canopy, antilock disc brakes and a reverse sensing system. It’s a little surprising that at this price, and in this class, the MKX has a beeping reverse sensing system, instead of a much more useful backup camera.
It would be nice to say that the Lincoln MKX has a different power train than the $26,000 Ford Edge, but it doesn’t: They share a 3.5-liter, 265-horsepower, V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Fortunately, this is a pretty sophisticated, moderately powerful engine, and mated to the perceptive transmission, makes the Edge seem more expensive than it is, but still seems more than adequate for the MKX.
A competitor, the Buick Enclave, has a 3.6-liter, 275-horsepower V-6 with a six-speed automatic transmission, so the MKX is in the ballpark.
On the road, Lincoln says one of the reasons you are paying more for the MKX than an Edge is because of features such as increased sound-deadening technology, and it shows: This is a very, very quiet SUV even at highway speeds. Ride and handling are on par with the competition, though steering feel is a bit distant and detached.
The front seats are roomy and comfortable, thanks to multiple adjustments, and the rear seat is big enough for three adults. There is no third-row seat.
Fuel mileage is a not-great 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, but that’s about what we’d expect from a 4,400-pound SUV. It runs fine on regular gasoline.
Unless you need to carry more than five people, or tow massive trailers, the MKX is a very appealing alternative to bigger, thirstier luxury SUVs such as its own big brother, the Lincoln Navigator. It’s surprisingly nimble, great on the highway, and those looks don’t hurt a bit.
Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smithcan be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.