On Scottsdale Boulevard we’re cruising through the posh suburb of Phoenix in a new Limited Edition version of the MKX, the sleek mid-size crossover utility vehicle (CUV) from Lincoln.
|1. The Lincoln MKX shares the same platform as the Ford Edge, which has its origins in the Fusion sedan.
2. Front wheel drive models start at $37,335 with AWD models fetching $39,185.
3. Only one engine is offered a 3.5L V6 with 265hp and 250 ft-lbs of torque.
4. Fuel-economy numbers are 17/24 mpg (city/hwy) for FWD models and 15/22 for AWD models.
This is one stunning vehicle, seemingly all bright chrome and glossy sheetmetal arranged in a way-slick package designed to catch the eye and invite the question: What goes there?
The lines of MKX, hunkering in a sporty stance with a chrome-plated prow and low arching canopy, are so smooth with uncluttered slab sides and a graceful sweep of the bowed front and rear roof pillars which defy the erect stance and squared corners of the usual two-box sport utility vehicle (SUV).
LUXURY WITH LMITED OFF-ROAD CAPABILITY
The MKX doesn’t drive and ride like a SUV either, thanks in part to its rigid car-based unibody structure, rather than a body-on-frame truck platform.
On dry pavement, all of the engine’s power goes to the front wheels. A generous wheelbase length of 111-inches and the wide track of 65-inches set up a long and broad platform that brings stability when turning. Also helping to give the luxury crossover a sporting feel is a fully independent suspension with MacPherson struts and an isolated subframe up front and a four-link design in back also with isolating subframe and monotube shocks. In effect, the MKX manages to combine the ideal aspects of a car and an SUV.
The easy-to-handle driving traits and a low seat position for easy entry to the cabin mimic a conventional four-door sedan, but the five-door cabin configuration functions like a sport-utility wagon.
The crossover has a capable ABS brake system and there are significant safety systems aboard as well. Riders in the front buckets have dual two-stage frontal air bags, plus seat-mounted side air bags and seatbelts with load-limiting retractors and pretensioners. Then there are curtain-style air bags stretching for the length of the cabin above outboard seats front and rear, and the AdvanceTrac anti-skid device with Roll Stability Control (RSC) is on the list of standard equipment.
Power for the MKX is derived from a thrifty dual-cam 3.5-liter V6 tied to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission with standard front-wheel-drive (FWD) or optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction.
A V6 ENGINE WITH THE POWER OF A V8
The V6 adds a kick to the MKX’s accelerator. It generates 265 hp at 6250 rpm, plus torque of 250 ft-lbs at 4500 rpm. And a six-speed automatic transmission gets the power down in a smooth and sophisticated way.
The MKX’s optional AWD equipment — the Control Trac system from Ford paired with a traction control system (TCS) — also relates to safety, as the mechanism has an automatic mode that monitors grip for all wheels and can selectively distribute traction front-to-rear as well as side-to-side even before wheel slippage occurs in order to maintain a constant tire bite on wet and slippery pavement.
Additional safety is provided by an adaptive lighting system (ALS) where a pair of swivel headlamps — keyed to the angle of the steering wheel — rotates during turning maneuvers to keep a light shining on the vehicle’s forward trajectory.
Within the cabin, the MKX seems generous in scale with reasonable room for riders — including best-in-class legroom for rear seats.
Decor for the cabin in the MKX is understated in a retro-Lincoln theme with luxurious materials in satin aluminum, soft leathers and real wood plus occasional bright glints of chrome.
And there’s heavy content in luxury goods.
The layout pitches a pair of bucket seats up front divided by a multi-function console and followed by a bench for three that’s split 60/40 and folds on the seatback to expand the rear cargo area from 32 cubic feet to 69 cu.-ft.
Front buckets can be heated and cooled, while the rear seats offer heat elements. The rear seatback sections recline at angles of up to 15 degrees for comfort, or the sections fold down manually via a single-hand release lever or an electro-mechanical remote tab positioned in the cargo bay.
The optional glass Vista Roof brings a sense of open-air motoring to this CUV. It consists of a tilt-and-slide front roof panel followed by a fixed rear glass panel measuring 27 by 29 inches, plus power-operated cloth shades over both portals to block glare.
NEW EQUIPMENT FOR 2009, INCLUDING ‘LIMITED EDITION’ PACKAGE
For 2009 the MKX offers a load of new equipment. The Limited Edition package installs a bold chrome grille up front with four exterior paint choices including Brilliant Silver and White Platinum Tri-Coat. Also aboard are 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, ebony wood trim in the cabin, plus premium leather covering seats in Charcoal Black with Medium Light Stone inserts and piping.
There’s also Lincoln Sync, which provides voice-activated control over in-car phones, media players and USB storage devices, as well as a voice-activated navigation with Sirius Travel Link, which brings real-time traffic data via the navigation system.
MSRP figures for the 2009 MKX begin at $37,335 for FWD and $39,185 with AWD, with the new Limited Edition package listing at $1,095.
The Lincoln MKX and Ford Edge, while both part of the reason for Ford’s strong comeback in recent years, are close in size but miles apart in what they hope to achieve. To offer a Lincoln CUV, the MKX takes a definitive step up in the luxury department and you feel this while driving the vehicle.
Feel is something that’s hard to sell, at least from an advertising perspective. But spend a few hours in the Lincoln MKX and you begin to understand what makes this the better of the two. Lincoln has it almost perfect with the MKX. If I have one minor complaint, engine noise is a little loud for my liking. That said, it shouldn’t be enough to dissuade anyone from seriously considering this vehicle.