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2017 Lincoln MKX
New Car Test Drive

Introduction

Redesigned for the 2016 model year, the Lincoln MKX midsize crossover seats five passengers in spacious comfort. An improved SYNC 3 infotainment system debuted during 2016. Little has changed for the 2017 model year.

Based upon the structure of the Ford Edge, the Lincoln MKX has been the brand’s best-selling model, for good reason. Styling is handsome, but restrained. Four trim levels are offered, including a Black Label edition that comes in a choice of four luxuriant leather trim schemes.

Two powertrains are available. Standard is the familiar 3.7-liter V6, developing 303 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. An optional 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 generates 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet. Either way, fuel economy is about average for the class. Both engines mate with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive may be installed on any MKX.

Lincoln has been working hard on interior trim in recent years. Basic interior trims are given suggestive names, such as hazelnut or cappuccino. For its Black Label program, Lincoln assembles coordinated trim groups. The Parisian-themed Muse gets purple-black leather and aluminum trim. Modern Heritage features piano-black trim with black/white leather. Thoroughbred, meant to suggest horse-racing, blends maple wood with black/chestnut leather. Chocolate leather and wood are fitted into the Indulgence model, whose name encompasses the entire Black Label quartet.

Of the four trim levels, midlevel interiors are lovely and luxurious. The base version is rather stark, while each Black Label trim suggests something close to decadence.

Real knobs and switches augment Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment interface. Though lacking in premium appearance, they provide nicely responsive control of basic functions.

Crash-test scores have excelled. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the MKX five stars overall. Lincoln’s crossover earned Good scores on the foremost tests undertaken by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), including the more rigorous small-overlap frontal crash. When fitted with automatic emergency braking, the MKX gets a Top Safety Pick rating from IIHS, but headlights were declared Poor.

All models include a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. Many safety features are optional rather than standard, but prices are tolerable. An option package includes forward-collision and lane-departure warnings, lane-keeping assistance, automatic braking, and adaptive cruise control. Also available are a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitoring, front parking sensors, and automatic parking assistance.

Model Lineup

Four trim levels are offered, with front-wheel drive standard, all-wheel drive optional ($2,495) for each model. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)

The 2017 Lincoln MKX Premiere ($38,260) comes with the 3.7-liter V6, leatherette upholstery, rearview camera, proximity key, dual-zone automatic climate control, parking sensors, active noise canceling, SYNC 3 infotainment, nine-speaker audio, Bluetooth, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Lincoln MKX Select ($41,550) upgrades to leather seating surfaces, wood trim, power tilt/telescopic steering column, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, ambient lighting, machined aluminum wheels, and a power tailgate. Lincoln MKX Reserve ($45,560) adds 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive HID headlights, heated/cooled front seats, a panoramic moonroof, blind-spot monitors, and navigation.

Black Label ($53,475) comes in a choice of four themes: Muse, Modern Heritage, Thoroughbred, or Indulgence, each with its own rendition of leather and wood trim. Revel 19-speaker audio is standard.

Walkaround

Although the early MKX bore a strong resemblance to the Ford Edge, with chrome pieces added, the current generation presents a more distinguished, firmly premium aura. Soft bodyside sculpting conveys a graceful tone, which might even be called voluptuous, though its identity as a wagon is clear when viewed from the side.

Up front is a big dual-wing grille, accented on some versions by an elegant curl of LED daytime running lights. Upper models get full LED lighting, and all look contemporary. LED taillights stretch across the liftgate.

Interior

Stylish comfort and stretch-out room await up to five occupants in an MKX. Both the second row and the cargo area rank above the norm in spaciousness.

Flying buttresses bracket the high-mounted console, though its storage area isn’t the most accessible. Instead of a familiar shift lever, the driver reaches for a set of pushbuttons to change gears, a setup that’s not universally appreciated.

Taller drivers might have difficulty seeing the gauge tops, because the seat won’t lower sufficiently. The optional 22-way power front seats may be just the ticket for easing fatigue on long trips. Front occupants get plenty of storage space, in the console as well as a covered bin. Because ride height is on the low side, entry and exit are easy.

Adults should be comfortable enough in the second row, unless the panoramic moonroof if installed, as it cuts into headroom. However, the three-person bench lacks contouring, and is essentially flat. The seatback folds down, but not flat. MKX seats up to five in its two rows.

With back seats folded, cargo volume tops 73 cubic feet, dipping to 37 with those seats upright. The power tailgate rises as you shake a foot below the back bumper. Plenty of noise-reducing techniques help subdue drivetrain sounds, though Lincoln pipes in some imitation engine sounds.

Driving Impressions

Except for the irksome pushbutton shifter, performance is strong and satisfying with either V6 engine. Each provides smooth power flow. Even with all-wheel drive, the standard 3.7-liter V6 propels the MKX adequately. Still, the twin-turbo V6 feels stronger and might be worth the $2,000 premium. Acceleration to 60 mph with the 2.7-liter V6 takes about six seconds, a quick performance.

Gear ratios in the 6-speed automatic feel correct, and it delivers clean, quick downshifts. Sport mode allows using paddle shifters to drop down by more than one gear, without harshness or delay.

Adaptive shock absorbers and a carefully controlled suspension yield an absorbent, well-composed ride, along with top-notch road manners, even in Sport model with bigger tires. Patchy pavement seldom causes harsh reactions, while steering is impressively accurate.

On all-wheel-drive models, Lincoln Drive Control provides Normal, Sport, and Comfort modes. Front-drive versions automatically set the suspension damping.

Optional variable-ratio steering can alter the level of power assistance, based on steering-wheel rotation. Amount of boost diminishes at higher speeds to improve stability, but increases at low speeds to ease parking.

Gas mileage isn’t great. With the 3.7-liter V6 and front-drive, the MKX is EPA-rated at 17/25 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive sinks those figures to 16/23 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined. The 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 is EPA-rated at 18/25 mpg City/Highway with front-drive, and 17/24 mpg City/Highway with all-wheel drive.

Summary

To some buyers, the Lincoln brand itself doesn’t quite qualify as full-bore luxury, but the MKX is a refined and capable premium crossover. Pile on options and the price can reach $60,000, but that’s not unusual and this Lincoln delivers a lot for those dollars. Black Label trim is classy, but costly. We like it.

Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.


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