The 2016 Lincoln MKX is an all-new vehicle. Completely redesigned, this second generation of Lincoln’s luxury crossover SUV is intended to compete with the Lexus RX and Audi Q5. To do that, the 2016 MKX promises refinement throughout and a quiet, effortless ride underway.
Attractive new sheetmetal helps separate the Lincoln MKX from the mechanically similar Ford Edge. Externally, the new MKX bears little resemblance to the less-costly Edge.
Bodyside sculpting on the Lincoln looks softer, more graceful, though in profile it looks more like a wagon than before. Blade-shaped headlights help widen front-end appearance. In some trim levels, they’re full-LED. New reflectors add width to the low-beam headlight pattern.
Inside, the cockpit resembles Lincoln’s smaller MKC, but an array of pushbuttons has replaced the conventional shift lever. We consider the pushbuttons gimmicky, but others might welcome the change. Seeking distinctive interior trim, Lincoln offers a choice of Black Label design themes: Modern Heritage, Indulgence, 1920s Paris, and a fourth influenced by thoroughbred horse racing. Lincoln has been investing a great deal of effort into what it calls personalized luxury.
The standard engine is a 3.7-liter V6, rated 303 horsepower. A newly available 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 develops 335 horsepower. Teamed with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission, the 2.7-liter can reach 60 mph in 6 seconds.
Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional.
New Lincoln Drive Control lets you choose Normal, Sport, or Comfort mode on all-wheel-drive MKXs. Adaptive shock absorbers help the MKX ride with impressive composure, even in Sport mode on harsh pavement.
Five occupants get plenty of legroom, with abundant cargo space. Some trims get 22-way power front seats with an active motion feature to reduce long-trip fatigue. Front seats now have thigh bolsters that deflate for easier entry/exit.
Revel audio systems are available, including a 13-speaker system. Three-mode, 19-speaker audio is included in Black Label versions, claiming home-theater quality. Also available is an embedded modem.
During 2016, the outdated MyLincolnTouch infotainment interface is being phased out and replaced with the more intuitive Sync 3, so be sure to get the latter.
Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and pre-collision warning systems are available, along with surround-view cameras and automatic parking assistance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given MKX five stars overall, with four-star rollover resistance. Good scores were reached in major tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but not the small-overlap test.
The 2016 Lincoln MKX comes in four trim levels: MKX Premiere ($38,100) comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, pushbutton start, keyless entry; a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leatherette upholstery; LED taillamps, and a rearview camera; Sync 3.
MKX Select ($41,390) gets leather seat upholstery, wood trim, a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, 18-inch wheels; and hands-free power tailgate. MKX Reserve ($45,155) adds 20-inch wheels, HID headlights, heated/ventilated front seats, panoramic sunroof, blind-spot monitoring, and voice-activated navigation. MKX Black Label ($53,315) models get one of four coordinated packages of trim items. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
All-wheel drive ($2,495) is optional.
All versions have a rearview camera and rear parking sensors.
In its latest form, the MKX has evolved into a distinctive vehicle, especially noticeable in Black Label trim, and well removed from its cousin, the Ford Edge. Its styling is less dramatic than that of competitors, instead using a gentler approach to design.
Featuring subtle bodyside sculpting, the MKX looks more like a wagon than an SUV. It does not look like the Edge, except in proportions. Resemblance to the smaller Lincoln MKC is closer. The MKX has a slimmer grille and subtle LED taillamps atop rear fenders. Upper models get delicately curled LED daytime running lights and, at top level, full-LED headlights.
As part of its latest infotainment interface, Lincoln has brought back actual knobs, buttons, and switches, in a newly unified cabin with a reshaped dashboard. Traditionalists will cheer. (We cheered but no one heard because the windows were up.)
Rather than the usual gearshift lever, the MKX has a group of gray buttons to operate the transmission. What are often termed flying buttresses flank the space beneath the controls in the tall console. Oddly, the start button sits low on the console.
Base-level front seats are well-tailored but short on sculpting, with bottom cushions that are too short. Optional seats give comfort a big boost. Adult comfort is uppermost, with cargo flexibility running second.
Seating positions aren’t SUV-lofty, but the driver does sit somewhat high. In fact, taller drivers might not be able to lower the seat sufficiently. The available 22-way power seats are worth considering. Inflatable bladders alter the bolstering three ways. Plenty of new noise-reducing measures help dull drivetrain sounds.
Getting in and out is easy, even in the back seat which is short on support and contouring. Seating three, the back bench is nearly flat. The available panoramic roof steals head space from taller passengers.
Seatbacks fold for greater cargo space, but not fully flat. With back seats down, cargo space tops 73 cubic feet, and the load floor is relatively low.
Ride comfort remains a prime MKX virtue, but the 2016 model also feels better connected to the pavement than did the first-generation version. Handling feels more intimate as well. Depending on engine, too, acceleration is swifter than ever.
Picking the new twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 costs more, but enthusiastic drivers might see it as a sensible expense. Also found in Ford F-150 pickups and the Edge crossover, the 2.7-liter makes 335 horsepower under the Lincoln hood, producing more power at lower engine speeds. While real engine sounds are suppressed, Ford injects artificial engine noises into the MKX cabin.
Transmission performance is fine, with quick, clean downshifts. Having only six speeds can mean less hesitation in determining the correct gear. Sport mode lets you paddle-shift downward without lurching or uncertain delay.
Variable dampers filter out road vibration, yielding a smooth ride. Front-wheel-drive MKXs automatically set the damping, but with all-wheel drive, the driver can alter settings via a configuration screen. Optional variable-ratio steering can alter assist, in accord with road speed.
In base trim, the front-drive MKX is EPA-rated at 17/26 mpg City/Highway. Hardly frugal, but not surprising with a 4,600-pound vehicle. All-wheel drive sinks the figures to just 16/23 mpg. The 2.7-liter engine is just a hair better.
The all-new Lincoln MKX is a refined crossover SUV with a smooth ride and quiet cabin. Unique styling, a high level of premium features and luxurious trim differentiates the MKX from the Ford Edge.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.