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2016 Lincoln MKX - Self-driving, Almost! A Review By Larry Nutson +VIDEO

2016 LINCOLN MKX (select to view enlarged photo)

Self-driving, almost!

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Self-driving or autonomous cars have been in the news a lot lately. So much so that you might think they will be hitting the streets any day now. Well, don’t hold your breath.

Nearly all the auto companies around the globe are working on this self-driving stuff. Even Google and Apple have gotten in to the business. Google has self-driving cars being tested on the roads around its California headquarters. A test facility at the University of Michigan has vehicles from Ford in operation.

In December I had the chance to speak with Raj Nair, the Ford (and Lincoln) Chief Technology Officer on the subject. He said that Ford Motor Company is planning to have self-driving cars on the road in many cities and locations around the country by about 2020. A qualifier defining these locations is that they must have extremely good and well-detailed GPS mapping in place. And, they can’t be snowy or heavy rain areas of the country.

2016 LINCOLN MKX (select to view enlarged photo)

The various sensors used to enable self-driving cars can’t “see” street markings on snow covered roads and can become confused. Development reports show that the cars, today, are not always capable of "seeing" pedestrians and cyclists, traffic lights, low-hanging branches, or the proximity of parked cars. The cars also are not capable of reacting to reckless behavior quickly enough to avoid the consequences. There’s work to be done and we will get there.


Putting the future aside for the moment, we have technology available in vehicles today, semi-autonomous features, or better said, driver-assistance features that can and will help reduce accidents. Along with preventing injury, if you get saved from just one accident, think about your insurance deductible that you didn’t have to pay.

The 2016 Lincoln MKX has just been extensively redesigned. It is chock-full of driver-assistance features that are well worth the money. The exterior is all-new and there’s more room on the inside with higher-quality materials. A new turbocharged engine is available and adaptive suspension dampers come on all-wheel-drive models.

One of the available semi-autonomous features, a first for any Lincoln, may help avoid or lessen the severity of some frontal crashes. Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection can detect if a collision is imminent and, if you do nothing, the brakes will be automatically applied.

2016 LINCOLN MKX (select to view enlarged photo)

Another, Adaptive Cruise Control, uses sensors to detect when traffic in front of the MKX slows. The vehicle automatically slows down, and resumes cruising speed when the sensors detect traffic has cleared.

The Lane-Keeping System includes Lane-Keeping Alert and Lane-Keeping Aid. With Lane Keeping Alert, the steering wheel vibrates when drivers are straying from their lane. Lane-Keeping Aid provides a mild steering input to steer you back toward the center of the lane.

Blind Spot Information System, or BLIS, signals the driver when a vehicle enters one of its blind spots by displaying an indicator in the sideview mirror.

Cross-traffic alert detects traffic approaching from either side as the vehicle backs out of a parking space and warns the driver when another vehicle is present with a visual alert and audible tone.

Mb>Park Assist uses ultrasonic sensors to help steer the MKX into a parallel or perpendicular parking spot. The system can assist with park-out as well. With the push of a button the system will search for the right size parking spot and then direct you to use throttle, brake and transmission gear selector while it does the steering. Nearly everyday I see drivers who really could use this.

A 360-degree camera system is available and it’s a great help in tight parking and maneuvering. Video images from four cameras – one in the front, two in the side mirrors and one in the back – are stitched together to give the driver a bird’s eye view all around.

The MKX even has a driver drowsiness monitor that told me at one point I needed to take a break. I guess I was crossing the traffic lanes too much.

As you can see, there is some pretty cool technology that will help keep you safe and accident free while making your drive a little less stressful.

2016 LINCOLN MKX (select to view enlarged photo)

The five-passenger MKX is available in four trim levels or groups: Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label. Prices start at $39,025.

Standard is a 3.7-liter V6, SAE-rated at 303 horsepower. Also offered is a new 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, SAE-rated at 335 horsepower. Both engines are mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with push-button shift. Front-wheel drive is standard. Intelligent All-Wheel Drive is optional.

EPA-test fuel economy ratings for the 3.7-L engine are 20 mpg combined, with 17 city mpg and 26 highway mpg with front-wheel drive. The AWD model is rated at 19 mpg combined, with 16 city mpg and 23 highway mpg. The 2.7-liter turbo engine is EPA-test rated at 21 mpg combined, with 17 city mpg and 26 highway mpg with front-wheel drive and 19 mpg combined with 17 city mpg and 24 highway mpg with AWD.

The MKX I drove was the Reserve trim level with all-wheel drive and the 2.7-L turbo engine. Base price on this model is $50,575.

The driver assistance features I spoke of also were equipped on the media-loan MKX. The Technology Package costs $1,720 and includes Enhanced Active Park Assist, Forward Sensing System and the 360-degree camera. The Driver Assistance Package is priced at $1,650 and includes Lane-Keeping System, Adaptive cruise control and Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection.

Note that this driver assistance technology is available in mainstream brands such as Ford and others. I would give it serious consideration on your next new vehicle.

2016 LINCOLN MKX (select to view enlarged photo)

2016 LINCOLN MKX (select to view enlarged photo)

As for the MKX, I found it to be very quiet on the inside. Road noise has been well isolated and damped. The ride quality is very comfortable and balanced with a good sense of control in turns and at higher speeds. Noise from the engine is almost non-existent and the powertrain does a fine job of moving the MKX.

More information and specifications on the 2016 Lincoln MKX can be found at To compare the MKX to other midsize SUV look here right on

Relatedly, we happen to have a new Lincoln MKX in the family. My Gen-Y daughter and her husband had a compact SUV from another brand that was coming to lease end and they needed to up-size a bit. Along with already having a Labrador retriever they, as of recent, have a new baby. They needed more space for child in child seat, dog, and all the baby stuff that is necessarily carried along. I was a little surprised with their choice of the Lincoln brand by this young couple. But then again, trend studies show that young buyers have changed quite a bit from a decade ago. They have aspirations and will buy what their parents drive. Ten years ago, they didn’t want to buy the brands they were brought up with.

Sporty and sophisticated are two words my daughter uses to describe their MKX.

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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