2016 Lincoln MKX Review by Carey Russ +VIDEO
The new hot rod Lincoln, not your dead uncle's towncar
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS
• SEE ALSO: Lincoln Research and Buyers Guide
What we have here is a new form of hot rod Lincoln. Yes, the 2016 MKX is a luxury crossover far-removed in style and substance than the stripped-down Lincoln-powered Ford Model A-based hot rod of Charlie Ryan’s much-covered 1950s rockabilly hit. It’s infinitely more civilized, yet in performance and handling far, far advanced. Adding to the performance, the naturally-aspirated 3.7-liter, 305-horsepower V6 that has previously provided power has been joined by an available 2.7-liter V6 turbo. Its 335 horses and 380 lb-ft of torque, allied with programmable damping in the suspension, mean the sort of performance that few hot rods or sports cars of the 1950s (or 60s, or 70s) could match, with braking and cornering far in advance of any. With, in this week’s test car, heated and cooled front seats with massage cushions. Decadent? Absolutely, and why not!
“American luxury car” might have meant a large, formal sedan with overstuffed-sofa comfort at the expense of decent road manners in years past, but the clientele for that is long gone. As is the large sedan, replaced by SUVs and, more recently, crossovers. Today’s luxury car buyers demand what once would have been a European approach to luxury ride and handling, and an American fascination with gadgetry, for comfort, convenience, and safety. The MKX has it all, even a display of the Lincoln logo in light projected on to the ground by the courtesy lamps on the bottoms of the outside mirrors.
Trim levels are Premiere, Select, Reserve, and Black Label, with standalone options to blur the lines between them. My test car was a Reserve with nearly all of the available add-ons, no surprise for press fleet-spec. Once those features might have been used to cover for a substandard chassis and or drivetrain, or indifferent build quality. Not here, not now. The 2016 Lincoln MKX ( X here meaning crossover, not a continuation of earlier Lincoln Mark series sedans and coupes), the second generation of the nameplate, is a solid and well-made vehicle, with the materials, fit and finish, and comfort expected in a mid-luxury car. Active noise cancellation electronically removes interior noise, in the manner of noise-cancelling headphones, making for a less stressful experience. Traditional amenities mix with modern electronics, improving the experience in comfort, convenience, performance and efficiency, and safety. The newest MKX is a fine contemporary American luxury car, sharing only the Lincoln name with your grandfather’s Continental or your uncle’s Town Car.
APPEARANCE: Lincoln has toned-down the front of the newest MKX a bit, replacing the Art Deco-ish `30s Zephyr-inspired twin-waterfall grille with horizontally-barred wings similar to the grille of the smaller MKC. It visually lightens the car, and strategically-placed character lines on the hood and sides add more visual interest. The full-width taillight appliqué is a long-standing Lincoln styling motif, made better with LED technology. The MKX’s exterior pays homage to Lincoln’s past without being an exercise in nostalgia.
COMFORT: “All the comforts of home”? Um, if your home has heated and cooled multi-way power-adjustable massage seats (front, heated outboard rear), a panoramic sunroof, near-audiophile audio system, fast-acting climate control, surround-view cameras, and illuminates the ground by your front door, yeah. Over the top? Maybe, but useful — especially the front-view capabilities of the camera system when peeking out into traffic with limited visibility from the driver’s seat or going from sun into a dark parking garage with a steep, narrow ramp. The side-view part helps reduce the chance of scratching one of those expensive alloy wheels when parallel parking — or you can let the parking system do that task.
Interior comfort and convenience are first-rate, as should be. Earlier implementations of the systems control system were controversial, to be polite. Problems centered around the touch-sensitive virtual switches for audio, climate, and other controls on the center stack, which could be finicky or unreliable in the manner of some similar laptop touchpads. They’ve been replaced with real switches. Software behind the touchscreen has been upgraded as well, and access to desired information or applications is logical. Looking for the shift lever? Try the buttons on the left side of the stack, nearest to the steering wheel. Yes, some of us will remember similar systems from long ago — but any shifting is via the paddles behind the steering wheel, and the lack of lever in the console allows not only a spacious console box but a lower open section below the center stack. Storage is always good! Instruments are of the bright electroluminescent variety, with user-programmability. With the “key” fob in your pocket, a swipe of your foot under the rear bumper will open the tailgate. Interior space and versatility are the reasons behind crossovers, and the MKX scores well here. It’s luxuriously functional.
SAFETY: The new Lincoln MKX has all of the safety equipment and technology expected in a luxury car, and then some. The AdvanceTrac® with RSC® comprehensive stability control system, the Personal Safety System™, LATCH child seat anchors, the SecuriLock® anti-theft system and a perimeter alarm, SOS Post-Crash Alert System™, and a tire-pressure monitoring system are all standard, as are strong four-wheel antilock disc brakes. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert is standard at Reserve level, and Lane-Keeping Assist, active cruise control, and active braking are part of the Driver Assistance Package. Rear-seat inflatable “airbag” safety harnesses are available.
RIDE AND HANDLING: The MKX is no lightweight, weighing in somewhere around 4500 pounds in all-wheel drive form. If not as tall as a classic SUV like the Navigator, it still sit high, with 7.8 inches of clearance. On paper, that would seem to indicate something with handling characteristics closer to a Town Car that a sports car. Not necessarily. All-wheel drive means driver controllability of the adaptive suspension damping system, which has Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes. Normal gives a smooth ride, with moderate shock damping. There’s a road down there, but it won’t unduly bother you. Comfort is grandpa’s old Town Car, lovely on the Interstate but too soft for the back roads. Sport? In a Lincoln? Here the Hot Rod Lincoln makes itself known. No it’s not racetrack harsh, more sport-touring firm and very well-controlled. And totally appropriate for the capabilities of the turbo engine.
PERFORMANCE: The previous MKX I drove, back in 2011, had the 3.7-liter V6. It worked well and had no lack of power, returning 17 mpg in mostly city and backroad driving. This week’s example had the 2.7-liter “EcoBoost” V6. A dual overhead cam, 24-valve design with continuous phasing on all camshafts, direct fuel injection allows a high compression ratio even with twin turbochargers for efficient power production, with that power available immediately over a wide rev range. If its 335 horsepower (at 5500 rpm) doesn’t seem like much improvement over the 3.7’s 305, its 380 lb-ft of torque (at 3000, with plenty below that) obliterates the 3.7’s 280. Merging and passing are non-issues. Hot Rod Lincoln, indeed. Grapevine Hill will be no problem… and although driving routes and conditions were not identical to those with the early version, they were similar, with better fuel economy results. EPA estimates are 17 mpg city, 24 highway. I got 19, versus 17 with the 3.7.
CONCLUSIONS: The 2016 Lincoln MKX combines luxury, performance, and versatility.
2016 Lincoln MKX
Base Price $ 47,650
Price As Tested $ 58,740
Engine Type twin-turbocharged 24-valve DOHC V6 with direct fuel injection and variable cam phasing
Engine Size 2.7 liters / 164 cu. in.
Horsepower 335 @ 5500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 380 @ 3000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length 112.2 in. / 190 in.
Curb Weight est 4500 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 13.4
Fuel Capacity 18.5 gal.
Fuel Requirement 91 octane unleaded premium gasoline for best performance, 87 octane unleaded regular acceptable
Tires 245/50R20 102V m+s Hankook Ventus S1 noble
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, ABS and AdvanceTrac® with RSC® standard
Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent multilink
Drivetrain transverse front engine, all-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 17 / 24 / 19
0 to 60 mph 6.2 sec
Towing Capacity 3500 lbs
OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Ruby Red Metallic paint $ 495
2.7-liter EcoBoost engine $ 2,000
Cargo Utility Package — includes: rear cargo management system, cargo compartment mat and tonneau cover $ 365
Climate Package — includes: heated rear seats and steering wheel, rain-sensitive wipers $ 595
Technology Package — includes: Active Park Assist, front park aid sensors and video camera $ 1,720
Driver Assistance Package — includes: interior mirror with camera, lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control, active braking $ 1,650
Revel Audio $ 1,155
Second-row inflatable safety belts $ 250
Capuccino leather interior trim $ 375
22-way power driver’s seat $ 1,500
Enhanced Security $ 60
Destination Charge $ 925