2011 Lincoln MKX

January 7, 2011
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MyLincoln Touch provided one of the easiest iPhone-syncing experiences I've had in any car. The voice command dialing worked superbly and the sound quality was excellent. I was pleasantly surprised, because I've had so many bad experiences with syncing phones and with voice control in various brands of test cars, I had about given up trying to do it anymore. But Ford and Lincoln have made such a big deal out of MyTouch, I figured I ought to give it a try, and I was glad I did.
2011 Lincoln MKX Front Three Quarters
I took two retired ladies for a ride in the Lincoln MKX, one of whom owns a Lexus RX350, and they were impressed. The Lexus owner thought this was a much more exciting and glamorous vehicle.
I have to admit I was shocked by the sticker price of our admittedly fully loaded model: $51K. Wow. I'm sorry, but I don't think the Lincoln brand has enough equity in our marketplace to be charging the same sort of dough that Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, and Audi can for their small/mid-size luxury crossovers. I pegged this as more of a $40K, $45K sort of vehicle.
The performance from the 3.7-liter V-6 is fine -- 305 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque is nothing to sneeze at-but for $51K I think buyers might rightfully expect the EcoBoost twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6.
The touch-screen interface is at once totally cool and totally frustrating. I like the four submenus, located in the four corners of the screen, that give you core information on what's happening with your phone, radio, climate control, and navigation functions. I was frustrated by the touchpad volume control and could only manage to dial the volume up or down in 25% increments, but I was later told by a colleague that you have to touch your fingertip and then slide it for smaller increments. Or, as my colleague said, just use the steering wheel mounted volume control. As for the optional THX II stereo in our test car? It totally rocks.
As do the heaters for the seat and steering wheel, but turning them on via the touch screen is a little bit fussy, requiring your fingertip to hit the screen just so. I do like the way you can punch in a radio station numerically with the numbered keypad.
Like every Ford and Lincoln vehicle built on this front-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive corporate platform, the MKX suffers from an overall feeling of being just a bit bloated. The relationship between the driver, the driver's seat, the side glass, the dashboard, and the windshield is just a little off. There's a feeling of unnecessary mass that you don't get in a lot of the MKX's competitors, such as the Audi Q5, the Mercedes GLK, and even the Cadillac SRX. It's not a deal-breaker, but it's definitely something I notice.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
Pardon me while I devour my hat. Having driven one of the last first-generation MKX crossovers a year prior, I didn't think the new model, despite a snazzy new nose and a tweaked tail, would feel remarkably different.
2011 Lincoln MKX Rear Three Quarters
Ford's interior design department proved me completely wrong. There is a world of difference between today's interior and the previous cabin design. Sure, the weighted, chunky feeling Joe DeMatio noted carries through, but that's where the commonality lies. The hard, crude plastic surfaces of the previous car are gone; most touch points are now lined with nicely grained, soft touch materials. Is it quite on par with what we've come to expect from the Germans? Perhaps not, but it's remarkably close.
Arguably, the center of attention within the cabin lies with the MyLincoln/MyFord Touch infotainment system. Although I appreciate the flexibility and connectivity incorporated over the previous iteration of Sync, this doesn't feel like a quantum leap forward. Capacitive touch buttons can occasionally prove to be finicky, and it does take some time to discover both the volume and fan speed controls are designed to react to a sliding finger, not a quick jab. Perhaps the worst bit lies with the central touch screen display. Each screen -- climate, audio, navigation, and phone -- is almost overwhelmed with information, visuals, and controls, and is horribly slow to respond to physical inputs.
Thankfully, that can't be said about the 3.7-liter V-6 or the six-speed automatic transmission bolted to it. Both are happy to respond to throttle input, quickly triggering a smooth downshift when the driver truly wants the six-cylinder to rev. Steering is a bit on the numb side, but chassis tuning is otherwise decent. Ride quality is smooth, but not floaty; body roll is kept nicely in check, even during sharper corners.
I cannot disagree with the argument that $51,000 is a lot of money for a crossover -- any crossover -- but given the balance of style, technology, comfort, and drivability offered in the MKX, I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few shoppers are able to rationalize that sum.
- Evan McCausland, Web Producer
The good news here is that as Evan notes, Lincoln has taken the MKX as far as it possibly could have without redesigning it from scratch. The main story here is the incorporation of MyFord Touch. I'm still not a fan of trading trusty dials and switches for a slightly lag-prone touch screen, but there's no denying how nice it looks. More important, the new system houses some pretty promising new features, including wi-fi and the ability to synch with certain applications on your smart phone. For the new user, this is all a bit intimidating, but the technologically astute owner will find lots to enjoy.
2011 Lincoln MKX Front Three Quarters
Dynamically, the MKX still feels far less advanced. It's not horribly floaty and the 3.7-liter V-6 is plenty powerful, but anyone who has test driven a Volvo SC60, Audi Q5 or BMW X3 will immediately note the difference. But then, not every premium crossover needs to be a canyon carver. Just ask the class leading Lexus RX. Lincoln still lacks the cache and the perceived quality to go toe to toe with Toyota's premium brand, but if it keeps taking steps forward, it will in the relatively near future.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I spent the four-day Thanksgiving weekend driving, driving, driving. And it was cold, cold, cold. So I had to figure out those fiddly controls once and for all. Which, I hasten to add, ALL REAL OWNERS would actually do.
1. The steering wheel heater is blissful for about five minutes. Then its way too hot, and part of the wheel remains icy cold.
2. The seat heater on three is also a scorcher, and even one starts to feel a bit over-zealous in the bun warming department.
3. Check that list of standard features for $39,995 and you'll find the right balance of price/vehicle.
4. Each of the four sections on the main touch screen can be chosen my touching the thin color bar at the top of each. Then you have a more comprehensive, coherent view of the options available.
5. The real working part of the volume bar under the screen is the thin upper edge, not the wide bar where your finger rests.
6. In general, ALL of the controls including the convenient redundant steering wheel buttons are unusually light and delicate, like the main controller on a Blackberry Curve. For years, we've been using switches that we can operate with our mittens on, so this is a big mental leap. But the buttons now look so much more refined and designed. I grew used to it.
7. My husband noticed it first, the uncomfortableness of his physical relationship to the vehicle while driving. Joe DeMatio hits it on the head. The platform just feels odd.
8. I, like Evan, think the materials are exquisite.
- Jean Jennings, Editor In Chief
2011 Lincoln MKX
2011 Lincoln MKX Rear Three Quarters
Base price (with destination): $39,995
Price as tested: $51,135
Standard Equipment:
3.7-liter V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Tire pressure monitoring system
Fog lamps
Heated power mirrors
Power liftgate
10-way heated/cooled front seats
Rear seat 60/40 split fold
MyLincoln Touch system
AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player
Sync voice-activated system
Sirius satellite radio
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Intelligent access key with push-button ignition
Remote start
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Reverse sensing system
Options on this vehicle:
Rapid Spec 201A-AWD -- $7500
Premium package:

Ambient lighting
Rearview camera
Adaptive HID headlamps
Elite package:
Voice activated navigation system
Panoramic vista roof
Blind spot monitoring system
THX II certified audio system
20-inch chrome clad aluminum wheels
All-wheel drive -- $1850
Adaptive cruise control -- $1295

Collision warning
Wood package -- $495
Key options not on vehicle:
Family entertainment package -- $1995 Rear seat entertainment system
Trailer tow package -- $395
Fuel economy: 17/23/19 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Engine:
Size: 3.7L V-6
Horsepower: 305 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 280 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Drive: Four-wheel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheels/tires: 20-inch chrome clad aluminum wheels; 245/50R20 Pirelli Scorpion STR A all-season tires
Competitors: Cadillac SRX, Lexus RX, Infiniti FX, Volvo XC60

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2011 Lincoln MKX

Base FWD 4-Dr Sport Utility V6
starting at (MSRP)
$39,415
Engine
3.7L V6
Fuel Economy
19 City 26 Hwy
2011 Lincoln MKX