Looking at the all-new Lincoln MKX is like glimpsing the future.
While the MKX is completely redesigned inside and out for 2011, the bigger part of the story is the amazing amount of industry-first technology housed within the attractive egg-shaped package.
I had multiple tech demonstrations during the press preview, and my head is still spinning from the sheer coolness of what Lincoln has produced.
The vision is connectivity. From computer to cell phone to iPod to car, Lincoln is trying to make the transition a little more seamless.
For example, between MyLincoln Touch and the newest iteration of Sync, you can search for MapQuest directions on your computer prior to leaving home, send it to your phone as you head out the door and then sync your phone to the car to download immediate directions without futzing with the nav system.??Hear a song on the radio that you like and wish you could download it to your iPod? Well, with the TAG button on the optional HD Radio, you can save the song in the radio's memory, and then when you sync your iPod to the car, a playlist downloads to iTunes for your review. You can then buy all or per song. Buh-bye, Shazam.
Perhaps you need to work out of your car, or one of your children has a paper to do while you're on a road trip. The MKX can operate as a Wi-Fi hot spot for up to 5 computers. You simply need a USB wireless air card that you can plug into the car, and voila! A virtual library on wheels.
Another neat technology in the MKX is MyKey. This one is for parents of teenage drivers. With your master key, you can program a secondary key that restricts features like audio volume and top speed as well as gives earlier warnings for low fuel.
Something else to note is that Lincoln has taken the auto industry one step closer to the look and feel of iPhone touch-screen capability. And that's tough to do when you have surface temperatures that can range from below zero to more than 100 degrees depending on the climate. The center stack no longer has pushable buttons, but instead displays raised touchable surfaces. Plus, volume and fan control are adjusted with a swipe of your finger over a raised bar.
You also see this leap toward touchability on the optional ambient lighting screen. Globes of color circle the screen, with a firm swipe of your finger, you can swirl the circles and select the color of your preferred ambient lighting for the day.
Other high-end tech features that are standard on the new MKX include: remote start, Easy Fuel capless fuel filler and Intelligent Access with push-button start.
Also new for 2011 is the powertrain. The new MKX gains 40 horsepower over the previous generation, upgrading to a 3.7-liter Ti-VCT engine that delivers 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
We didn't have a lot of technical roads during the test, so driving conditions were relatively normal. Side streets, city traffic and plenty of highway. Thus, I got a good feel of what this car would do in day-to-day driving. Ride and handling was nice for a crossover, and the power was better than average.
I found the interior of the cabin to be quite comfortable with the supple leather seats that both heat and cool, a great driving position and easy-to-reach controls. I did have a couple of small complaints, and I mean that quite literally as I have a feeling that they have to do with my "small" size than the car itself.
First, I noticed that the large, blocky side mirror was right in the middle of my left peripheral vision. This created a huge blind spot at lights and 4-way intersections as I had to do some bobbing and weaving to see around the mirror and check for pedestrians or small cars.
The second problem I noticed was the large gap between the brake and gas pedals. I was wearing a narrow-tipped, high-heeled shoes, and the first couple times I moved from gas to brake, I found my foot slipping through the gap completely. After I got used to the motion of moving my foot further to the left, I was fine, but it was a bit startling to try hitting the brake and completely whiff.
The interior has a clean, modern feel, and I found that I liked the wood inserts on the dash and doors rather than the "sporty" aluminum ones. As my driving partner discovered on a sunny day when he forgot his sunglasses, that shiny aluminum is blindingly reflective.
I am also a fan of the new colorful behind-the-wheel gauges that Lincoln and Ford are adopting. They are far and away the most beautiful gauges of any automaker.
The exterior is nicely executed and adopts the new Lincoln signature split-wing grille. The crisp lines and large optional 20-inch wheels give a meaty stance, while the chrome accents and Audi-like LED taillights lead this crossover upscale. A vast improvement over the 2010 model with it's funky grille and boxy build.
Base price for the all-new MKX front-wheel drive model is $39,995, and base price for the all-wheel drive model is $41,845.
MKX is now on sale at dealers, and in my opinion beats the pants off Cadillac SRX and Lexus RX in terms of ride, comfort and technology. SRX may still have one up in the design department, and RX is a little greener with a hybrid option. But, all around, I think the MKX is a clear winner. So, if you're looking for a luxury crossover, you've got to have a look at this Lincoln.