Lincoln has always had a tough time carving out its identity and while the newest MKX hasn’t yet given us a true sense of what makes this brand stand out, it certainly shows us what it’s capable of.
Engine: 3.7L V6 that makes 303 hp and 278 lb.-ft. of torque. 2.7L EcoBoost V6 that makes 330-hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel Economy: FWD 2.7L and 3.7L earn 17/26 MPG city/highway. 2.7L AWD earns 17/24 city/highway, 3.7L AWD earns 16/23 MPG City/Highway
Price: Starts at $39,025. Fully optioned out $60,440
To get a good idea of what Lincoln is going for, let’s talk about the front seats in the Lincoln MKX. Adjustable 22 ways, the American luxury brand is clearly targeting that custom-tailored feel by ensuring you and your passenger get the most comfortable seat ever.
It sounds good in theory, but in practice, it wasn’t quite perfect. It took my passenger and I about 10 minutes each to adjust the seats and some adjustments could only be performed through the car’s infotainment screen, meaning only one person can make certain adjustments at a time. Eventually, we said, “good enough” and set off on our way. Every so often, we’d poke a button on the side of the seat to adjust it a bit more, but nether of us ever got a truly comfortable position.
The gorgeous brown leather seats offered massage functions in addition to heating and cooling, all of which were very effective; the massages were much appreciated after giving up on the seat adjustments. In our test vehicle, the interior featured aluminum accents, a safe design cue that doesn’t spark the imagination too much. Also available is a slick wood finish and a dark, open-pore style wood grain finish. These other accents seemed far more special, but the rest of the cabin design is inoffensive and almost sterile. After looking at what Lincoln’s key rivals are doing in their cabins, like the energetic design of the Lexus RX’s dashboard or the gold/silver sparkles found in Infiniti vehicles, the MKX interior seems a little boring in comparison.
However, I liked the digital gauge cluster. Customizable to show a number of important details about your trip or fuel economy, I found it elegant looking and clear, though I wish a head-up display was available, like what’s found in the competition. The infotainment system is also a large touchscreen unit, but sports the old MyLincoln Touch setup rather than the new SYNC 3 that the cheaper MKC is shipping with. Furthermore, the car is available with a Revel 13-speaker setup for $1,155, while an optional 19-speaker arrangement was found on our test car, which is part of a premium tech package that costs $4,400. It sounded great while active noise-cancellation technology helps isolate the cabin and mute out sounds from the outside. It really works as this is one of the quietest, most serene crossovers I’ve been in.
The large panoramic sunroof looks high-end and gives you a great view of the sky while letting in loads of sunlight. It gives off an open-air feel in the cabin, but rear-seat passengers should be warned: there’s not much headroom for six-foot tall passengers. Rear seat legroom, on the other hand, is plentiful.
The trunk, which can be opened from the outside with either a button on the tailgate, or a wave of the foot (if your hands are full), has 37.2 cu. ft. behind the rear seats, making it far more accommodating than the 2016 Lexus RX 350, which offers up just 18.4 cubic feet. Fold those rear seats down, which is easy thanks to buttons in the cargo area, and the total amount of storage space expands to 68.8 cu. ft.
From the outside, the MKX looks large, with a swooping design that seems borrowed from the German competition. The LED lights in the front and rear are a nice touch, with 37 LEDs making up each headlight array. The headlights also merge gracefully into the split-wing grille of the MKX. The light design is clearly defined, giving this crossover a distinct profile even when all you see is the shimmer of its headlights at night. Furthermore, the car puts on a lightshow when you walk up to it at night, projecting a Lincoln logo on the floor, and sequentially lighting up the various elements of the car.
Despite its large size, piloting the MKX is quite easy. Four cameras stitch together a 360-degree view of the area around the vehicle, while parking sensors help determine how close or far some objects are. The cameras up front are cleverly hidden behind the Lincoln badge and have sprays to clean them. Helping park the car in tight spots is an automatic parking system that only needs the driver to modulate the brake/throttle and change gears as necessary. Both the camera array and active parking sensors are part of a $1,720 Technology Package.
The MKX is easy to maneuver thanks to its variable steering, where at at low speeds the wheel is light, and at higher speeds, the steering has more weight, making it feel more precise. Visibility isn’t a huge concern, and blind-spot information lights in the mirrors help make the car easier to drive in traffic. Other safety features like an active front collision avoidance system, adaptive cruise control and a lane keeping system that vibrates the steering wheel when you cross the lines are all available.
On the road, the vehicle’s 2.7-liter V6 is the car’s highlight. With 335 hp on tap and 380 lb-ft of torque available, the MKX can meet any demand you may have on the road. Note that this is much more than the 300 hp/267 lb-ft found in the Lexus RX 350, and even more than the 325 hp and 267 lb-ft found in the Infiniti QX70. While those crossovers are no slouches, the MKX feels faster and more engaging to drive. And while the active noise cancellation technology mutes out the sound of the outside world, the car lets in a bit of the turbocharged V6’s voice into the cabin, letting you know that there’s a lot of power to put to use. The transmission is also up to the task, delivering smooth shifts, though nothing too sporty to upset the serene vibe in the cabin.
An EcoBoost engine also comes at a premium, and while the 3.7-liter V6 wasn’t available to test, its 303 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque sound impressive. There’s barely any fuel economy difference between the two engines. Front-wheel-drive MKXs equipped with the 3.7-liter V6 get 20 mpg combined, while all-wheel-drive models get 19 mpg. The turbocharged 2.7L V6 earns 21 mpg combined in FWD configuration, while the all-wheel drive model nets 19 mpg.
Suspension is another one of the Lincoln’s high points. The Lincoln Drive Control system, which can be toggled between sport and normal modes, is configurable, though some Mercedes vehicles offer more options. Continuously controlled damping helps keep the car feeling composed even on cobblestone roads.
The smooth and well-tempered MKX starts at $39,025 for front-wheel-drive models with a 3.7L V6 engine. Fully optioned out with the EcoBoost V6, 22-way adjustable seats, high-tech driver assists and 19-speaker Revel audio system, you’re looking to spend nearly $60,000 on an MKX.
The Verdict: 2016 Lincoln MKX Review
With its super adjustable seats, massage functions, soft suspension and powerful V6, the Lincoln MKX is a legitimate contender in its segment. It’s a bit conservative in terms of interior design, and the technology envelope could be pushed a bit further, but there’s no doubt that the MKX is a solid all-rounder that is inoffensive yet thoroughly competent. The problem with the MKX is that it’s not top of mind for people shopping this segment, so Lincoln still as a lot of work to do in defining its brand and identity.