First Drive: 2011 Lincoln MKX

Ford has smartly sharpened its product portfolio in the past three years, yet the same can’t be said for the Blue Oval’s supporting brands. Just this June, it was announced that Mercury would be put out to pasture after decades of carbon-copy engineering, and Lincoln’s lineup suffers from virtually the same indifference. However, Ford tells us that the 2011 Lincoln MKX is the first vehicle in a product revolution that is planned for the luxury brand’s lineup.

Ford says that the new models will bring genuinely distinctive bodies -- not just fascias and soft points -- over shared mechanicals, much like Lincoln’s MKT three-row crossover related to the Ford Flex. But for now, the new MKX is simply a refresh that follows the same old formula: a Ford with a nicer interior, different looks, and more premium features.

More style inside and out
While the 2011 MKX update leaves the sheetmetal between the mirrors and the gas filler virtually untouched, the exterior facelift is more dramatic than the traditional mid-cycle update. Instead of tweaking the details, Ford has started fresh with both front and rear fascias. By dropping the old egg-crate grille in favor of Lincoln’s signature split-wing opening, the MKX strengthens the brand’s visual identity. It’s a concept that most automakers have embraced for years, but Lincoln’s lineup has somehow failed to build a cohesive look in recent times. With the MKX showing the family face, only the Town Car and Navigator remain as holdouts.

As significant as the exterior update is, the interior refresh has even more impact. Lincoln designers and product planners were well aware that the outgoing model lacked the effortless style and luxury of a well-executed premium interior. The new cabin is a fusion of Lexus quality with Cadillac modernity, features a more elegant, graceful design and smarter use of materials. Leather covers the dash, seats, steering wheel, and shift knob, while trim is either aluminum or one of two woods. The new My Lincoln Touch navigation and entertainment system dominates center stack and serves as a highlight of the interior.

In addition to the high level of craftsmanship, the cabin is marked with exceptional quietness thanks to acoustic laminated glass and insulating efforts. The seats are comfortable with generous amounts of room for three rear-seat passengers. Heated and cooled front seats are standard and heated rear seats are an option. Passive entry and keyless ignition, reverse sensors, and remote starting are also standard. Other available equipment includes a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, a backup camera, adaptive cruise control, and a 600-watt, 14-speaker THX II stereo. The MKX rolls on standard 18-inch wheels or optional 20-inch wheels. Pricing starts at $39,95, which makes the Lincoln more expensive than the Cadillac SRX, the Lexus RX350, and the Mercedes-Benz GLK-class, and close in price to the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5.

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ricklemley
Lexus and Acura are just fancy versions of Toyota and Honda. To fault Ford and Lincoln for the same thing is ridiculous. Try to come up with an article that isn't stupid.
rackstar
As Eric Tingwall was kindly pointing out, I can't help but wonder why I would pay so much more for this over the Ford Edge?I do, however, love the freshened-up front grille. Its probably the best application so far but the rest just screams "Ford Edge". I guess the next generation will be much more different. As for the interior... absolutely stellar!Keep it up Lincoln, you're heading in the right direction with that new front grille design. Now its time to work on the rest!Thanks Eric for the review.

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