Lincoln MKX — An impressive crossover

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The newly named Lincoln Motor Car Company came stumbling out of the blocks in 2013 with an all-new MKZ mid-sized sedan that missed the mark. Lincoln got it right a year later with its second all-new product, the MKC compact crossover. Although based on the Ford Escape, we felt Lincoln had "escaped" the rebadged feeling with a solid upscale vehicle. The MKC delivers the goods in styling, interior comfort and driving dynamics.

Now comes the all-new second-generation MKX, and after spending two weeks and more than 400 miles in the mid-sized crossover, we came away impressed with its myriad of features including an interior with incredible solitude, a well-designed cabin made up of quality materials including real wood and aluminum trim, its comfortable ride, and a new-for-2016 2.7-liter Eco Boost V-6 that offers decent gas mileage while delivering solid performance.

The MKX is based on the new Ford Edge mid-sized crossover, but — like the MKC and its platform mate the Ford Escape — with most of the "Edginess" removed. Lincoln has, indeed, created a true luxury vehicle that can compete on equal footing with a slew of solid competitors including the Lexus RX 350 and the Acura MDX.

There are four trim levels — Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label — starting at $39,025. An abundance of standard equipment adorns even the bottom trim level including 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, keyless entry and ignition with remote start, dual-zone climate control, leatherette upholstery, active noise cancellation, heated eight-way power front seats, a reclining 60/40-split second-row seat with power folding seatbacks, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, rearview camera, the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system with eight-inch screen and a 10-speaker audio system with satellite radio and CD player.

The top-of-the-line Black Label with front-wheel drive and a host of "gotta-have" features that rival all segment competitors goes out the door for $54,240 including destination charge. Front-wheel drive is the standard configuration, but all-wheel drive is available on all four trim levels for $2,495. Our all-wheel drive Black Label test car with options carried a bottom line of $66,375.

The long-running 3.7-liter V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission serves as the base engine making 303 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It remains a good engine with average gas mileage measured at 17 mpg city and 26-highway in front-wheel drive. But what we like and the engine that propelled our test car is the new 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 making 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. It's a solid match for the luxury crossover with 0-to-60 time in the mid-six-second range and gas mileage measured at 17/26 and 21 combined. The EcoBoost engine offers a nice mix of refinement and performance.

Not only is the MKX very smooth in terms of ride — our test car came with three settings (normal, sport and comfort) — but most people will find the "normal" setting will suit all their driving needs. Steering feel is good and body roll is minimal, especially for a luxury crossover.

The interior is not only whisper quiet it surrounds its occupants in quality materials with excellent fit and finish including a leather-wrapped dashboard and carpeted cargo area. There are a few discordant notes, however. We still don't like the cheap-feeling and plastic-looking transmission shifter buttons on the center stack. That was one of the features that turned us off in the MKZ sedan.

While we were disappointed that Ford's new Sync3 infotainment system is not yet available in the all-new MKX (go figure that one) the eight-inch screen for MyLincoln Touch imparts easy-to-understand information and comes with all the requisite buttons and knobs for both the audio and climate control systems.

Our Back Label test vehicle featured the 19-speaker Revel Ultima surround-sound audio system. Lincoln calls it "the best audio system in the business." We've listened to several outstanding systems over the past couple of years and while we don't necessarily agree the Revel is the best, it offers one darn good listening experience with extremely crisp and clear sound.

Another interesting feature available for Black Label buyers are 22-way multi-contour front seats with Active Motion that Lincoln says can ease muscle fatigue and can be tailored for preference and comfort. Developed in part with input from orthopedic surgeons, this feature should be especially beneficial on long trips.

MKX has generous passenger space, especially for those people occupying the second-row seats. And the seats recline for long-distant comfort. The cargo area behind the seats is also generous at 37.2 cubic feet. With the second-row folded, storage space increases to 68.8 cubic feet.

Base price, $39,025; as driven, $63,375
Engine: 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6
Horsepower: 335 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 380 pound-feet @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: all wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 190 inches
Curb weight: 4,447 pounds
Turning circle: 38.6 feet
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
Luggage capacity: 37.2 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 68.8 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 24 highway, 17 city, 19 combined
0-60: 6.7 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: BMW X5, Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350

The Good
• Extremely quiet interior
• Excellent EcoBoost engine
• Spacious rear seating

The Bad
• Push-button shifter cheap looking

The Ugly
• New Sync3 not available until later in year