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.