2008 Lincoln MKX Review
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS
2008 Lincoln MKX
It's renaissance time at Lincoln. In common with every other long-established luxury automaker, changing demographics and markets have resulted in dramatically-changed vehicle lineups. Customers change, customer wants and needs change, and fashion changes. So the products offered need to change.
Once, Lincoln made only large sedans. That was what American luxury vehicle customers wanted and bought. Now, large sedans have been replaced, first by luxury SUVs, and more recently by luxury crossovers. The Town Car, the last of the large body-on-frame luxury Lincoln sedans, is gone. And the newest Lincoln in production, debuting for the 2007 model year, is the company's first crossover, the MKX.
It would be a stretch into fantasy to claim that the MKX replaces the Town Car - and a few thousand limo owner/drivers would vehemently argue against that, too - but the MKX does provide plenty of stylish and luxuriously-appointed interior space in a moderately-sized exterior package. The MKX's efficient two-box unibody design, with a transverse V6 engine driving the front, or, optionally all wheels, and those wheels pushed to the corners, sees to that. It's almost 30 inches shorter than a regular-wheelbase Town Car, and yet offers nearly the same amount of interior space, with only an inch less front legroom, and two inches less shoulder and hip room due to its three-inch narrower width. There is considerably more headroom in the MKX, and it's interior is far more versatile. It offers large-car room on a more convenient mid-sized footprint.
While the MKX mechanical specification is unchanged after a successful debut year, with power from a 3.5-liter, 265-horsepower V6, the 2008 MKX gets a higher level of standard equipment. Heated and cooled front seats, the reverse sonar warning system, and SIRIUS satellite radio, formerly optional, are standard. And the new Sync(tm) cabin electronics connectivity system, developed in conjunction with Microsoft and exclusive to Ford products for the 2008 model year, is also included in all MKXes. It allows voice-activated control of digital media players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. There are also a series Limited Edition option packages with special interior and exterior color schemes.
A week with a well-equipped front-wheel drive MKX showed it to be a fine contemporary luxury vehicle. Its upscale design and specification are enhanced by interior quiet and a smooth but controlled ride. It drives and feels like a car, not a truck, and the powertrain meets all demands placed upon it. Interior space is not going to be a problem, and its relatively small footprint means that parking will not be, either. Looks are important, especially in the luxury segments, and the MKX got compliments. Lincoln's new direction is looking good.
APPEARANCE: Congratulations are due to Lincoln's designers. The MKX is fresh and contemporary, not "retro" in at all, but it does integrate styling cues from Lincoln's history. It's boxy but not the box it came in, and its large, long passenger cabin and short hood place emphasis on the passengers. It's conservative in the manner of a finely-tailored suit, with a look that should wear long and well. The full-width chrome grille prominently displays the Lincoln star logo, and recalls the classic early-1960s Continental. From the sides, it's muscular but not muscle-bound, with a high beltline emphasized by an upswept character line placed high and a chrome accent strip at the lower edge of the windows. The rear sees another bit of classic Lincoln style, a full-with taillight applique.
COMFORT: Inside, the MKX has the contemporary Lincoln look. "Rounded rectangle" seems to be the main design theme, describing the instrument panel and all of its divisions right down to the chrome bezels around the instruments, as well as the door trim. The interior scheme adds visual space, not that there is any space shortage. The front seats provide the comfort and support expected in a luxury vehicle, and standard heating and cooling is a plus. Almost everything that could be power-assisted is, with the exception of the steering wheel. But that leather-and-wood-rimmed wheel is manually adjustable for both tilt and reach, and has cruise and auxiliary audio controls. My test car had the optional DVD-based navigation system, voice-activated this year, and the THX-certified 14-speaker audio system. They are integrated, with controls divided between the bright touch screen and marked hard buttons to its sides. Climate control - dual zone - is separate. The nav system is simple to use, and audio quality is very high. With AM, FM, Sirius satellite, and an input jack for an external audio player, all current media can be played. The input jack and an associated power point are just one of the features to recommend the multilevel console box - it has a thin top compartment for small items, and a removable tray below that splits the deep well horizontally about half-depth. The tray can hold a music player while other items are stored below. The rear seat is wide enough for three adults, although it is contoured for two. The outboard positions may be heated, and a nearly-flat floor adds legroom, especially for the center position. It's split 60/40, and the backs can be adjusted a bit for rake. Rear passengers get the best reward from the Vista Roof(tm) dual moonroof, with a good view of scenery above. The front portion tilts or slides, with a built-in windblocker, while the rear part is fixed. Seat release is from the sides or the cargo area, conveniently, and a power tailgate, part of the "Ultimate Package" makes cargo access easy. Both step-in and load heights are very reasonable, no ladder necessary for access.
SAFETY: The MKX's unibody structure was designed and built for crashworthiness, and the AdvanceTrac¨ with RSC¨ (roll stability control) stability-assist system, Personal Safety System¨ of front and front side airbags with front passenger weight-sensing and crash severity sensing for bag deployment rate, and two-row Safety Canopy(tm) side curtain air bags add to safety. As do four-wheel antilock vented disc brakes. Available adaptive headlights move with the steering wheel for improved night vision.
RIDE AND HANDLING: Chassis strength and rigidity work here as well as for safety, providing a stable platform for the MKX's fully-independent MacPherson strut / multilink suspension. It's tuned for comfort, with moderately soft shocks and springs that do a good job of absorbing the jolts of poor road surfaces and highway expansion joints. Thick side glass and interior carpeting, and sound-deadening materials in the chassis ensure a comfortably quiet interior. Steering effort is moderate, not over-assisted.
PERFORMANCE: The MKX's 3.5-liter aluminum alloy V6 makes 265 horsepower (at 6250 rpm) and 250 lb-ft of torque (at 4500) and features a dual-plenum intake manifold and variable intake cam phasing for lower emissions and a broader spread of power. It's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, and the two work together well. Acceleration for merging or passing was never a problem, and fuel economy, EPA 17/24 and 18 in mostly city and secondary road driving, is better than that of a traditional SUV with comparable interior space.
CONCLUSIONS: The MKX establishes Lincoln in the luxury crossover market.
2008 Lincoln MKX
Base Price $ 35,420 Price As Tested $ 42,380 Engine Type dual overhead cam 24-valve V6 with variable intake cam phasing Engine Size 3.5 liters / 213 cu. in. Horsepower 265 @ 6250 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 250 @ 4500 rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic Wheelbase / Length 111.2 in. / 186.5 in. Curb Weight 4210 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 15.9 Fuel Capacity 19 gal. Fuel Requirement 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline Tires P245/60 TR18 Continental Cross Contact LX Brakes, front/rear 4-wheel vented disc with ABS Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut/ independent multilink Ground clearance 8.2 inches Drivetrain transverse front engine, front-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 17 / 24 / 18 0 to 60 mph est 8.0 sec Towing capacity 3500 lbs. with towing package OPTIONS AND CHARGES Elite Package - includes: Panorama Vista Roof with dual power sunshades, voice-activated DVD navigation system, 14-speaker THX-Certified audio system $ 4,595 Ultimate Package - includes: power liftgate, rear underfloor cargo management system, universal garage door opener, 18" chrome alloy wheels, adaptive headlamps, premium leather-trimmed seating, 4-button key fob, Easy-Fold(tm) rear seatback release $ 1,295 Class II Trailer Tow Package - includes: class II receiver hitch, engine oil cooler, larger radiator, upgraded cooling fan and battery, wiring harness with 4-pin connector $ 395 Destination charge $ 675