Kiawah Island, South Carolina- As Lincoln readies to celebrate 100 years of upscale prestige in 2017, it reimagines a mid-size crossover in 2016.
The Lincoln Motor Company is the sole auto division left standing after Ford Motor Company's extensive house cleaning the past decade. Domestic sidekick Mercury phased out in 2010 while a cadre of import nameplates including Jaguar and Volvo got reassigned to other parental units worldwide.
While 2017 promises a celebratory time, challenges remain for the upcoming century. With 2015 calendar year sales of 101,227 units, Lincoln trails its domestic luxury counterpart Cadillac (175,267) and many upscale rivals from Asia and Europe.
Two points of interest in Lincoln's favor: sales of car-based crossovers of all sizes (such as the revamped 2016 MKX) remain red-hot while the soon-to-arrive 2017 Continental, Lincoln's newly crowned flagship vehicle, resurrects a heralded name from its storied past. Expect Continental's reemergence this fall amid much fanfare.
Lincoln prioritizes a posh, quite luxury experience over track-inspired, head-snapping performance and Lincoln's next-generation MKX carries forward this family dynamic.
The five-door MKX crossover easily accommodates five riders comfortably with generous head and leg room in subtle surroundings with front-wheel-drive standard or Midwest friendly all-wheel drive optional. Length increases more than three inches from the previous generation while wheelbase (distance between front and rear axle) grows by one. Lincoln's MKX debuted in the 2007 model year.
Underbody architecture is similar to that of Ford Motor Company's popular uni-body, car-based Edge crossover which underwent a next-generation makeover in the 2015 model year.
Newly available (and recommended) to MKX's 2016 mix: a 2.7-liter V-6 Ecoboost engine generating a refined 335 horses. Ecoboost decodes as Ford and Lincoln's marketing mantra for a multitude of in-house family engines (four, six and eight cylinders) combining direct fuel injection ('Eco") with tweaked up turbo charging ('Boost'). Returning is a 3.7-liter, naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) V-6 generating 303 horsepower, the sole engine available in 2015. No MKX gas-electric hybrid or plug-in hybrids are currently offered.
Both engines connect with a smooth six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters for enhanced manual input if the spirit or driving conditions inspire.
All four fancifully-named trims (Premier, Select, Reserve and Black Label) are available with both engines and drivetrains. Numerous free-standing options remain in play to specifically suit decerning customer needs.
Lincoln enticed academy-award winning actor Mathew McConaughey by dangling the role of a lifetime, spokes dude for a luxury brand welcoming a century of progress. The hire generated buzz across cyber space and beyond. The newest TV spot has the irreverent McConaughey settling for third banana status to a couple of camera-friendly K-9 travel mates.
Even NBC's long-running 'Saturday Night Live' sketch comedy took aim with its own lampoon interpretation of McConagughey's pitchman performance, assuring Lincoln and Matt seats at the pop-culture dinner table.
Also new for MKX in 2016: 'Auto Hold.' For those raised or schooled with manual transmissions, this concept enjoys some similarity with "hill holder clutches." Auto Hold keeps the crossover stationary by automatically holding brake pressure during intersection rests. Pressure releases once summoning the accelerator pedal. Auto Hold may be deactivated via a dashboard button. During jaunts through Carolina's barrier islands, the system proved helpful is easing right-leg fatigue. Available adaptive steering (a $625 extra) enhanced turning maneuvers.
For starters, $39,025 represents a bottom floor price point for front-drive MKX Premiers powered by the 3.7-liter V-6. Fully equipped, top-shelf models can tickle $70,000. If MKX eyes any one competitor, it's Lexus' long-running RX, the vehicle credited with ushering in the luxury, mid-size crossover sub set.
Our all-wheel drive Reserve trim with 2.7-liter Ecoboost checked in at $47,650. With $14,960 worth of stand-alone extras and option packages (including climate and high-tech technology safety packages), the bottom line ended at a healthy $63,535 with $925 destination charge. The 2016 Lexus RX 350, also undergoing a next-generation redo in 2016, starts at $41,900 with pricing escalating just as fast once extras enter the picture.
Reaching for a mechanical transmission shifter between front buckets is last-century technology as a vertically arranged push-button electronic shifter takes up dashboard residence left of the in-dash multi-purpose color screen. Push-button start is below, conveniently away from steering wheel blockage.
In home mode, this color screen conveniently slices into four quadrants (ventilation functions, audio, voice-activated navigation and personal cell phone), part of 'My Lincoln Touch.' Secondary volume and seek dials reside below flanking a long, chrome seek toggle bar. Below reside two rows of small, back-lit multi-colored push buttons controlling defrosters, cooled, heated seats and air conditioning.
A smooth-faced glove box opens via an off-site button flanking the right side of the color screen under the 'auto hold' brake button. After dark, blue accent lighting frames the glove box top, dual inline cup holders and side doors.
A long panoramic Vista sunroof stretches over both rows with a power sun shade stopping anywhere along the long track. Only row one benefits from an opening sky view while row two glass remains static.
Multi-adjustable front bucket seats eliminated any trace of back fatigue during a four hour trek from the Charlotte airport to the Spanish moss laden barrier islands surrounding Charleston. High seat positions provide commanding views of surroundings. Rear seatbacks power fold semi flat onto cushions with a 70/30 split via buttons located on the hatchback region's left side
Also new for 2016, a top-shelf Revel sound system. Our tester included an upgraded 19 speakers (up from the standard class of 13) providing crispness and clarity at any volume level.
The power hatch door with standard wiper includes a spoiler atop. This south end also takes advantage of light emitting diode (LED) craftsmanship with tube-like red lighting stretching across the width, framing tail lights at each end. Sporty cars including the Dodge Charger also employ this eye-catching design.
In front, Lincoln's long, vertical cross-type logo centers a twin-port wing-like grille. Side character lines travel from wrap-around headlight housing to bright red tail lights. Flanking the front grille; tiny LED daytime running lights with a streaming cursive flow under jewel-like LED nugget headlamps.
Chrome pipping adorns side windows and pillars while strap-like handles also sport chrome accents. At night, side-view mirror under bellies provided floodlight ground projections of the Lincoln Motor Company logo. Dual square-shaped exhausts mold into lower framing. Circular wheel wheels and bottom edges utilize protective molding, minimizing ping and puckering from loose gravel.
The sizable 18.4-gallon tank accommodates regular, 87-octane fuel regardless of engine selection. As with many redesigned Ford and Lincoln products, a cap-less fuel lead eliminates the need for pesky, sometimes flimsy gas caps and tethers.
At a Glance
2016 Lincoln MKX
Price as tested: $63,535
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 190.0 inches
Width: 76.1 inches
Height: 66.2 inches
Engine: 2.7-liter V-6
Curb weight: 4,447 pounds
City/Highway economy: 17mpg city/ 24 mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: Six years/70,000 miles
Assembly: Oakville, Ontario Canada