2008 Lincoln MKX Expert Review
Click above photo to view more high-res images of the 2007 Lincoln MKX
In four months on the market, the 2007 Lincoln MKX has given the ailing Lincoln brand a big-time shot in the arm. Based on the early numbers, Lincoln could sell north of 40,000 of the stylish crossovers during calendar year 2007. Lincoln dealers only have one complaint with regards to the MKX, they can't get enough of them on their lots.
We had a very limited run with the MKX back in November, and we came away impressed with its overall package, but alas, the 30 minutes we had weren't nearly enough. With a full week in the Autoblog Garage, we were able to really ferret out what we liked, and what we felt could use some improvement. Take a ride over the jump to see our full review of the 2007 Lincoln MKX.
When looking at the MKX from the outside, the vehicle has a very muscular stance, kind of like a British bulldog, but better looking and more inviting. At first glance, the basic lines of the MKX are close to that of nearly every other CUV, but we think the Lincoln looks more masculine and refined than most. Clutter has been kept to a minimum, with no need for running boards or massive side mirrors. The front end boasts headlights that look sufficiently high-tech for an entry-level luxury crossovera and a new grille for Lincoln that is quickly sweeping across the product portfolio.
The lack of a traditional front bumper also aids in the crisp look of Lincoln 's first crossover, and the overall use of chrome would be classified by us as "just enough". We would have liked to have seen a bit higher quality bling on that grille, as the finish looked a bit too plastic for our taste.
The design theme utilized on the front and sides of the MKX are well executed out back, with more of the same strong stance and clean curves. The LED tail lights are by far the coolest in the crossover market, and when the vehicle is in reverse, the four small white lights at each corner are a nice touch. The rear spoiler also aids the vehicle's sporty appearance, while at the same time remaining largely inconspicuous.
Our biggest regret is that we didn't get the optional 20-inch chrome rims on our otherwise completely loaded tester. The larger rims truly give the MKX a premium appearance versus the otherwise fine 18s. The 20-inch rims also help to further distance the MKX from it's badge-engineered brother, the Ford Edge.
On the inside, the MKX looks the part of a luxury CUV, with quality leather seating surfaces, DVD navigation, satellite radio, dual-zone climate controls, THX surround-sound system, a massive VistaRoof, and clean, bright lighting throughout the cabin.
The seats are a particular treat, with ample support that offers the driver a suitable throne from which to pilot his or her Lincoln. The power-everything seats can be adjusted in a number of ways, and we had the opportunity to both heat and cool our seats within the timeframe of one week, courtesy of some whacky Michigan weather. Many newer cars have heated seats, but once we used the MKX's cooling function on a sunny 75-degree day, we're not sure how we're going to cope without it.
The THX-certified sound system in the MKX is exactly the same as the one in the MKZ sedan we tested recently, and we remain very impressed. The sound and clarity is simply amazing, and we fought the urge to rip it out of the dash and install it in our own living room's entertainment center. Lincoln's touch-screen navigation is superb, and we're wondering why the Germans can't just lease the technology from Lincoln's supplier so we can better enjoy our BMW and Mercedes vehicles.
The optional VistaRoof on our tester was, well, enormous. Both front and rear passengers got a full view of the sky any time the cover was electronically removed, and when the roof is ajar, the opening is larger than almost any other sunroof on the market. We were puzzled as to why the one-touch close feature on the Vista Roof would only bring the roof three-quarters of the way closed, forcing you manually shut it the rest of the way. The same goes for the shade, which is very annoying.
The dash of the MKX carries over the exterior's clean and clutter free theme, and the buttons and controls are easy to select. We would have liked the dash much more, however, if the materials used were of higher quality. The material at the top of the dash actually felt like rubber, and we wonder if it's going to be difficult to keep clean. We also noticed that there seemed to be four or five different materials used on the dash, and the only elements that were nice to the touch was the area above the glove box and wood trim.
The real wood used liberally throughout the cabin was both attractive and friendly to the fingers. For us it represented the best of the MKX on the inside. Lincoln 's use of real wood beats the miles and miles of faux wood we see on just about everything else on the market, and at this point is a prerequisite for any serious luxury contender.
In the back, there are very comfortable seats accompanied by an incredible amount of leg room. Two tall adults will fit comfortably, and it's very easy to get car seats in and out of position. The rear seats also recline, which is great for long trips, plus rear passengers also get a taste of the good life with their own heated seats.
Behind the second row there is a decent amount of cargo space, but a volume penalty must be paid for that raked roofline. Regardless, we were still able to fit ten grocery bags, some painting equipment, and a bag of clothes for Purple Heart in the back at one time. The rear door opens and shuts at the push of a button, which comes in handy when hands are full.
With the same basic underpinnings of the Fusion and MKZ, we were hoping to have a fun and friendly ride. For better or worse, we got more friendly than fun, with a little more Lincoln softness than we would have liked, but very comfortable and quiet none the less. The MKX does allow you to hit a sharp turn at 20 mph, which would get you maimed in an older Explorer, but it still has a bit more body roll than desired. The ride also got a bit bouncy over uneven surfaces, but it wasn't enough to cause concern. We had the same feeling in the Toyota RAV4 and Honda Pilot.
While the driver isn't always rewarded with taut handling and crisp steering, the passengers are probably better off for it. We hit quite a few Detroit potholes that would have sent passengers in lesser vehicles to the dentist or back to the dealership, but they were soaked up very well by the Lincoln's fully independent suspension. Noise level is also very subdued inside the cabin, except for when we floored the pedal and got to about 6200 RPM. At that point, the 265 horsepower of Ford's newest V6 started to struggle a bit.
Acceleration, while not to the level of a V8 BMW X5 or Cadillac SRX, is strong and confidence-inspiring. Ford says you can hit 60 in about eight seconds, which is fast enough for most situations though won't stir your soul. Ford's new six-speed transmission is a nice piece of work, however, with very smooth shifts up and down, but we would have liked quicker downshifting during spirited driving. We're guessing most MKX owners would prefer smooth and civil over fast and fun, so Lincoln probably made their target audience happy with the direction it took. Another absence is any real form of manual shifting, with "L" being the only option.
We also had the pleasure of driving through about a half-inch of snow, which enabled us to gauge our tester's Haldex AWD system. The system, which has been used in Volvos for years, only sends power to the rear tires of the MKX when necessary, and we couldn't even tell you when or if that happened. We accelerated to our heart's content with absolutely zero spinning, even with the slippery stuff under-foot. The AWD system also saved the tires wear and tear as we repeatedly gunned it off the line on dry pavement. We didn't even get a squeak. Lincoln should send Volvo a Thank You card for this one.
One pleasant surprise was at the pump, where the MKX netted us just under 20 MPG. We would be less excited about that number if we didn't drive the heck out of this thing. "Normal" driving got us somewhere closer to 21 MPG, which is great for a 4,000+ pound vehicle with a 245-pound driver.
Overall, the Lincoln MKX is a very stylish vehicle that will satisfy most everybody that drives it. It leads its competition in almost no measurable category, yet draws customers into Lincoln showrooms with its unique looks and charming character. You can get one at $35,000, but with a full compliment of options the price can hit well over $40,000. We're hoping that Lincoln can come up with a sport suspension option complete with a manual shift mode to improve the package. A potential bump in displacement to 3.7-liters could also provide more power than what you can get in a Ford Edge, further differentiating the two products.
As we mentioned earlier, the MKX is a very important model for the Lincoln brand, and we think its overall package will continue to drive customers into the dealer showroom, and with a few upgrades to the interior and a more competitive powerplant, the MKX can go from "very good" to "best in class." Either way, Lincoln dealers aren't complaining, they're finally getting a product they can sell.
New Car Test Drive
Roomy and luxurious crossover SUV.
The Lincoln MKX is an upscale alternative to the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, offering the features of pricier crossovers from Acura, BMW, Infiniti, and Lexus. Introduced for the 2007 model year, the MKX is a crossover utility vehicle, or CUV, meaning it has the roominess and cargo capacity of an SUV but is built like a car for improved fuel economy, a smoother ride and better handling.
The MKX seats five in spacious comfort with room left over for baggage. Rather than offering a third row, the MKX offers stretch-out room for two rows of seats. It offers heated seats, a glass moonroof, DVD rear-seat entertainment, and other luxury features. It's perfect for realtors and other professionals who need a vehicle for ferrying clients that's easy to get in and out and offers passengers good visibility. The MKX turns tighter than many sedans, making it easier to maneuver in crowded parking lots and other tight areas.
The MKX shows Lincoln heritage in ease of use. One doesn't have to climb in, familiarization with operating controls is quick, and driving characteristics are predictable. For many, the MKX is just the right blend between a luxury sedan and a full-size luxury SUV such as the Navigator.
The 2008 Lincoln MKX adds new features and equipment. Topping the list is Sync. Developed with Microsoft, Sync integrates cell phones and media players into the vehicle through Bluetooth technology and a USB interface. Sync comes standard on 2008 MKX models, along with Sirius satellite radio. Also available for 2008 are 20-inch wheels and a Limited Edition package with interior enhancements and special exterior trim.
The Lincoln MKX comes with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive costs about $1,700, and saps 1 EPA mile-per-gallon in the city and 2 mpg on the highway. It also adds slightly quicker gearing and larger brakes.
The 2008 Lincoln MKX FWD ($35,605) and AWD ($37,355) models come with leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt/telescoping wood/leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, heated and cooled 10-way power adjustable front seats with lumbar adjustment, memory for the driver's seat and mirrors, 60/40 split folding rear seat, heated power mirrors with driver's side auto dimming, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, keyless keypad entry, AM/FM stereo with 6CD changer, auxiliary input jack, Sirius satellite radio, Sync entertainment and communications interface with voice recognition and dashboard controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlights, theft-deterrent system, fog lights, and P245/60R18 tires on alloy wheels.
The Ultimate package ($1295) adds a power liftgate, remote release for split-folding rear seat, universal garage door opener, cargo management system, steering-linked adaptive headlights, and chromed alloy wheels. The Elite package ($4,595) features the Vista Roof with power sunshades and one opening and one fixed panel, a navigation system with voice recognition, and a 650-watt THX sound system with 14 speakers and dual subwoofers. The Limited Edition package has Ebony interior wood trim; premium leather seating in Charcoal Black with Medium Light Stone inserts and piping, chromed exterior door handles, and P245/50R20 tires on chromed alloy wheels. A Monochromatic version of this package adds body color front grille. A Trailer Tow Prep package ($395) has a heavy-duty cooling system and battery, a Class II trailer hitch receiver, and a four-pin connector. Standalone options include the navigation system ($1995); DVD entertainment ($1,295); the THX sound system ($995); heated rear seats ($295); remote engine starting ($295); rubber floormats ($54); White Chocolate Clearcoat paint ($495); roof rails ($95); and 20-inch chromed alloy wheels ($895).
Safety features include dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags with rollover deployment, tire-pressure monitor, rear park assist, antilock brakes, traction control, and electronic stability control with Lincoln's Roll Stability Control rollover mitigation system.
The Lincoln MKX is based on the Ford Edge and shares its basic structure with the Ford Fusion sedan as well as the Mazda 6 sedan and CX-9 crossover.
MKX presents a stylish profile with its short overhangs and big wheel arches, not unlike some futuristic flying people mover concepts of 20th-century animators. The short hood and raked windscreen give it a modern appearance.
The chrome eggcrate grille offers bling, with more shiny stuff on the mirrors, wheel covers, around the rear lamps and windows, the exhaust tips, and badges. Door handles are paint-matched, but chromed on the Limited Edition model.
The Panoramic Vista Roof is all black. This dual sunroof gives an airy feeling thanks to the large main sunroof and the additional fixed glass panel behind it. It leads to a black rear spoiler and trim below the rear glass, making the window appear larger than it is. Underneath the hatch glass is a full-width taillight like Lincoln Marks of old, only this one is lit by LEDs.
In total, the MKX is clean and distinctive, neither overdone nor generic jelly bean.
The MKX cabin blends traditional Lincoln shapes with contemporary materials and colors. The soft-touch dash uses complementary color cues, dark wood trim right out of a Chicago chophouse, and pewter-colored trim pieces that carry over to the steering wheel and door switch panels. The bright plastic center panel on the dash looks a little out of place to us. The lower door panels are also obviously plastic, but that just makes it easier to clean off shoe scuffs and mud. Overall, the ambience is upscale, but it doesn't impart the feeling of quality you'll get in a Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or Acura.
The wood-and-leather steering wheel tilts and telescopes and features redundant controls for sound and climate functions; many of those can be done through the intuitive navigation and thundering THX-certified audio system, but the steering wheel controls are sometimes easier to use when driving.
The Sync communications and entertainment system can recognize Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, access their phonebooks, and play calls and read text messages through the speakers. It also has a USB interface to connect with iPods and other MP3 players (it will charge an iPod). Voice commands and/or steering wheel buttons can be used to control all functions. It's even possible to tell the system to play a specific artist, album or track stored on your MP3 player. While this system is nicely integrated, it takes some time to learn the voice commands.
The eight-way power-adjustable seats help the MKX comfortably accommodate drivers of all sizes, and a memory feature is available for the driver's seat. The perforated leather seats are both heated and cooled, the latter good for a 1-2 notch reduction in air conditioning use.
The glovebox is a decent size and will hold much more than the owner's manual, something many vehicles can't claim. And the center console is so big it has a divider to keep a laptop separate from other debris. If we have a nit to pick it would be the position of the fuse box, which impinges on left foot room and moves the parking brake pedal far from the door; occasionally when we engaged the parking brake we disengaged the fuse box cover. The coat hooks are large enough to handle thick plastic hangars, very useful when picking up the dry cleaning.
Back-seat riders should be happy because their seats offer essentially the same dimensions as those in the front. The rear seats recline, have seat heaters, and offer reading lights and a glass roof with power shade. A third back-seat rider will cut the comfort level slightly but not be slighted on safety; there is an adjustable center headrest and shoulder belt.
Cargo space is generous. Cargo capacity can be doubled merely by pressing a lever on the side that folds the split rear seat sections flat; no mucking about with headrests or guessing which lever does what. With the second-row seats folded, the MKX offers 68.6 cubic feet of cargo room, and there is a healthy 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row. Not only is this a fair amount of space, but the cargo compartment is a useful shape. These figures are right in line with most vehicles in this class, though the Lexus RX and Volvo XC90 each offer about 85 cubic feet of cargo room. Loading cargo into the Edge will require lifting it above the knees. Tire storage is under the floor. The power liftgate housing intrudes on left side space slightly, and there is a dearth of tie-down points to secure any heavy items.
The Lincoln MKX is about relaxation, comfort, and style. We found the MKX brings all the cornering grip and stability most drivers need while riding smoothly enough to keep from spilling coffee on the morning commute.
The 3.5-liter four-cam V6 has enough oomph for easy merging onto busy freeways or to carry a full load to the slopes. We found the six-speed automatic reluctant to downshift unless we flattened the carpet under the gas pedal. It doesn't offer the manual controls found in other transmissions, limiting the driver to Park, Reverse, and Drive; then again, those are the selections we usually make.
The suspension is tuned for ride comfort. As a result, the handling isn't as crisp as that of some other vehicles in this class, but nor is it as isolated and rubbery as others. It doesn't roll over and squeal its tires in protest. It is controlled and competent, neither fast nor slow, and won't upset anyone with bad manners like wallowing or weaving. The MKX handles potholed pavement better than more firmly sprung SUVs with low-profile tires.
We tested a 2008 MKX with 20-inch wheels on potholed Chicago streets in the winter and found it rolled over bumps and ruts without upsetting occupants.
Road noise is suppressed, no doubt aided by having the wheels at the corners and away from occupants' feet and backsides. Wind noise isn't an issue, either.
Visibility is quite good despite the proper fitment of three rear head restraints. On the downside, some will find the central door pillar blocks their over-the-shoulder view. Also, we thought the rear wiper could clear more of the glass.
The Lincoln MKX serves its purpose well. It is nicely balanced all around, a worthy addition to the midsize luxury crossover utility class. It offers a smooth ride for drivers who commute on rough streets. It's easy to operate, roomy, comfortable, and quiet. And it's loaded with technology.
New Car Test Drive correspondent G.R. Whale filed this report from Los Angeles with Kirk Bell reporting from Chicago.
Lincoln MKX FWD ($35,605); MKX AWD ($37,355).
Oakville, Ontario, Canada.
Options As Tested
Elite package ($4595) with Panoramic Vista Roof, navigation system, THX audio system; Ultimate package ($1295) with adaptive headlamps, power liftgate, and cargo management system; rubber floor mats ($55); heated rear seats ($295); Class II Trailer Tow package ($395); Limited Edition package ($1095) with P245/50R20 tires on chromed aluminum wheels, carpeted floormats, and auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Lincoln MKX AWD ($37,355).
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