2013 Lincoln MKX

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2011 Lincoln MKX — Review

This 2011 review is representative of model years 2011 to 2015.
By James Tate of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.9

Bottom Line:

Don’t go thinking that the 2011 Lincoln MKX is a simple refresh. An all-new interior, a quieter cabin and excellent onboard technology have transformed the SUV into a legitimate luxury contender.
Pros:
  • Best-in-class fuel economy
  • Excellent MyLincoln Touch infotainment system
  • Well-crafted interior
Cons:
  • MyLincoln Touch voice commands are still cumbersome
  • Only one engine option
  • Very similar to less-expensive 2011 Ford Edge

It is no secret that Lincoln has some serious ground to cover if it wants to be a luxury nameplate capable of going toe-to-toe with the likes of Audi, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz, particularly in the brutally competitive luxury-crossover segment. If what we've seen in the 2011 MKX is any indication, though, Lincoln is hell-bent on putting up a fight.

Model Lineup
Unlike its not-so-distant cousin, the 2011 Ford Edge, the Lincoln MKX is available in only two configurations: front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Both variants come with an impressive array of standard features, including leather seating surfaces and a heated steering wheel. The front seats are heated, cooled and power-adjustable — traits that will cost you extra on competitors like the Lexus RX 350.

In its ongoing quest to separate itself from the rest of the luxury crowd, Lincoln has taken to packing its interiors with technology, even in base trim. All MKX trims come from the factory with Sync voice command, and for 2011, the company is introducing MyLincoln Touch. The system adds a new level of functionality to the vehicle's massive 8-inch LCD touch-screen by placing two additional, smaller LCD screens on either side of the speedometer,operated by two 5-way controls on the steering wheel. The driver can pull up everything from fuel economy to information on navigation or climate control without having to look down and away from the road. We love it.

The MKX comes with painted 18-inch wheels as standard equipment; 18-inch and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels are optional, as are 20-inch chrome-clad wheels.

Under the Hood
Within a year, the 2011 Ford Edge will be available with three engines, including one very fuel-efficient turbocharged 4-cylinder; its luxury counterpart, the Lincoln MKX, is available only with the most powerful of those options. The 3.7-liter V6 engine produces 305 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which can hardly be called undesirable. It makes 40 more horsepower than the 3.5-liter V6 in the 2010 model, while returning an additional estimated 1 mpg highway.

The EPA hasn't released its fuel-economy findings on the 2011 MKX, but Ford is aiming for 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway in front-wheel-drive guise. Adding the heavy all-wheel-drive system is expected to cause those numbers to fall to 17/23. Behind the more powerful 6-cylinder engine is the same 6-speed automatic transmission that showed up in the 2010 model, though we think Lincoln has made some progress with the vehicle's shift logic. Gear changes are very smooth compared with the outgoing MKX.

Inner Space
For what's supposed to be a slight refresh, the 2011 MKX packs a slew of improvements over its predecessor. While those include a number of visual cues outside, Lincoln went for a full-on renovation of the crossover's interior. We simply can't stress enough how much more attractive this cabin is compared with the 2010 model.

Lincoln has walked away from the blocky, squared-off dash design of last year and adopted "waterfall" styling, with much more graceful lines. Handsomely stitched leather covers the dash and center stack and helps give the interior the kind of quality feel we would love to see everywhere in the Lincoln line. Lincoln offers a number of different wood and metal accents, each of which works well to complement the interior colors available.

Lincoln now uses touch-capacitive controls for both climate control and audio adjustments, and the new technology does an amazing job of cleaning up the center stack. Instead of a confusing mishmash of buttons, the driver is met with a beautifully simple control panel, complete with touch-sliders for fan speed and volume control. However, the system seems to jump around quite a bit if fingers aren't positioned just so on the slide surface. Maybe we just have fat hands.

Of course, Lincoln would have us believe that physical controls will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to its Sync system. With the push of a button, drivers are supposed to be able to do everything from adjusting the air conditioning to setting a new navigation destination or making Bluetooth hands-free calls. Ford has even flattened most of the command sequences for ease of use, though we still found the dictation system cumbersome at times.

On the Road
The luxury crossover segment isn't exactly populated by a road-hugging bunch, but the 2011 MKX does its best to straddle the line between being a comfortable highway cruiser and a responsive driver. Power from the 3.7-liter V6 is more than adequate, and if prompted, the engine will provide enough muscle to take care of quick passes without a fuss. Typically, the engine is very quiet, though at the upper register of the rpm band, things tend to get a little noisy inside.

Speaking of noise, Lincoln engineers have performed something of a small miracle when it comes to cabin noise levels in the 2011 MKX compared with the 2010 model. A raft of noise-battling technology has made its way into the chassis, including acoustic glass in all of the right places, additional metal in the firewall and plenty of baffling in what used to be empty space.

We were able to spend some time in both the all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive versions of the reworked crossover, and while we were expecting an abundance of torque steer in the latter configuration, the effect of 305 horsepower being channeled to the front two tires is pretty well manageable in a car weighing about 4,400 pounds.

Right for You?
The 2011 MKX starts at $39,375, though all-wheel drive will set buyers back an additional $1,850. Those numbers position the MKX well against competition from Lexus and Infiniti, though we're not entirely convinced that there's enough differentiation between the Lincoln and the similarly equipped but less-expensive Ford Edge Sport to make the bump in price worth it. If you don't mind the badge on the hood, we'd just as soon opt for the Ford.

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BB01 - 9/17/2014 7:18:37 AM