Recently we had the opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel of the new 2007 Lincoln MKX crossover. This is a critical vehicle to the brand as it works to establish credibility and build brand equity in the luxury crossover market against competitors such as the Lexus RX and Infiniti FX.

Driving the heaviest model available -- laden with AWD, Vista Roof, etc. -- initial impressions with the powertrain are very positive. The 3.5-liter V6 is smooth until pressed into high rpm duty, where it gets a little raspy. The engine is complimented by an excellent six-speed automatic transmission that provides reasonable acceleration from a standstill, holding the lower gears to prevent premature up shifts. Without the constant up-and-down hunting sometimes experienced with an automatic, this gearbox feels almost intuitive in its ability to be in the right gear at the right time. A request for more acceleration is quickly addressed with a downshift from sixth to fourth or even third when necessary.

Follow the jump for the rest of our driving impressions and some official photos from the MKX press kit.

From the driver's seat, the MKX is very inviting. The driving position from the supportive bucket seats provides a good view of the road, giving the driver a sensation of sitting in the vehicle and not on it. Interior tactile surface materials, while not up to Audi standards, have improved, but for a vehicle that stickers in the mid-$40K range these surfaces could exude a bit more luxury and a little less cost-consciousness. The gigantic Vista Roof transforms the entire roof into glass, with a sliding front and a fixed rear panel and power sliding sunshades. Most controls are simple and easy to use, but the climate control and seat heating/cooling buttons are very thin and located at the bottom of the center stack, making them difficult to operate without taking your eyes off of the road. The vehicle we drove was also equipped with the award-winning navigation system shared with the MKZ, and it works well. Equipped with a 6.5" touchscreen and clearly marked controls, it took us straight to our multiple destinations, even when we forced it to re-route several times.

Dynamically, the MKX is quite adept, and it feels like Lincoln has found a reasonable middle ground compared to some of its competitors. You certainly won't win any trophies at your local SCCA autocross event, but the MKX provides a comfortable, controlled ride and absorbs road imperfections without disrupting stability. Not quite as luxurious as the Lexus, but not nearly as firm as the Infiniti FX, it never felt like we had to chase the vehicle on the road, even as speeds increased or road conditions worsened.

Overall, first impressions during this short drive were very good, We have a full road test scheduled in the near future and will be sure to post a full In the Autoblog Garage review then.


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