Lincoln has struggled mightily, despite valiant efforts, to re-establish itself as a credible luxury brand. But its offerings have come across as premium-grade poseurs.
The new Lincoln MKX crossover, however, is ready for prime time -- with a regal street presence, superior handling and braking, effortless acceleration, a plush interior, and a suite of advanced technology.
How good is the MKX? With such an impressive road-test score, the MKX outguns a few popular luxury midsized SUVs, including the Lexus RX 350 and BMW X5.
The redesigned MKX comes with either a 3.7-liter V6 or a smaller, 2.7-liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged 335-hp V6. It doesn't take more than a quarter mile to realize this isn't your grandmother's Lincoln. The 2.7-liter pulls strongly. Powerful and refined, it supplies spirited forward thrust.
Unfortunately, that engine is more about boost than eco. It delivers the oomph, but at a cost. Overall fuel economy came in at 18 mpg; most of the competition in the segment easily gets 20 mpg or better. And the six-speed automatic transmission seems quaint among the segment's swath of eight-speed offerings.
When it comes to carving up corners, the MKX proved lively and composed, with a taut and connected feel that's enjoyable and confidence inspiring. This Lincoln has no problems keeping up with lusty German competitors on a mountain road. Even when driven with extra gusto, the MKX is so reassuring that our testers wanted to push it harder around our track.
Ride comfort has an underlying firmness and feels composed, planted, and steady. Even with the 20-inch wheels, bumps and ruts are nicely muted and the cabin stays quiet and tranquil.Lincoln has been spiffing up its interiors, and our MKX has a swanky, high-society, hunt-club atmosphere with brown leather seats and rich wood and chrome trim pieces. A large sunroof brightens up the interior. However, the well-padded front seats are narrow and located too far inward from the door; the driver's left footwell is cramped.
Large doors provide easy access, and there's a spacious rear seat, and plenty of room for your stuff. A power liftgate and power-folding rear seats help with loading cargo.
The MKX features the intuitive Sync 3 touch-screen infotainment system, which has simple on-screen logic. As for other controls, we're not crazy about the what-is-old-is-new-again push-button shifter, and some dashboard buttons are small and packed too closely.
It may be wishful thinking that Lincoln customers will be young enough to not need reading glasses for the fine print on the instrument readouts. And thick roof pillars take a toll on rearward visibility, but the surround view system can virtually peer out of tight spots.
The MKX's price is close to the established luxury SUVs from the German brands and the Lexus RX. But let's face it: Those brand names have more cachet than Lincoln. For now, though, consider the MKX to be a legitimate alternative with actual talent and substance.