Completely redesigned for 2016, the Lincoln MKX is a midsize crossover with a decidedly luxurious bent. It competes most directly with the BMW X5, Acura MDX, Cadillac XT5, Lexus RX and Mercedes-Benz GLE. In addition to new interior and exterior styling, the 2016 MKX gets a new optional engine, adaptive suspension, and later in the model year, Ford's improved SYNC 3 system.
The MKX seats five on twin front buckets and a three-place rear bench. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel-drive offered as an option. Four trim levels are offered: Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label. Base engine is a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 303 horsepower. Newly available is a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 that offers 335 horsepower. Regardless of engine, a 6-speed automatic is the sole transmission offering. Maximum towing capacity is 3500 pounds.
Safety features include stability and traction control, blind-spot monitor with cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning and mitigation, driver drowsiness monitor, rear-view camera and front-side and side-curtain airbags. Also standard is Ford's SYNC system. Initially, the generation 2 system will be offered, but later in the 2016 model year, SYNC 3 will become standard.
Prices for the MKX start at $38,260 and climb to $53,475 for the Black Label. The MKX has a $925 destination charge and is built alongside the similar Ford Edge at Ford's plant in Ontario, Canada.
Both engines provide ample acceleration and appropriate levels of refinement. The standard engine seems to have a little more punch off the line, while the optional engine has better passing response and is slightly quieter overall. Opting for that turbocharged engine will set you back about $2000, so make sure you drive both and decide if the $2K is worth the extra power.
Transmission performance is exemplary. The 6-speed automatic shifts smoothly and downshifts promptly. The push-button shifter takes some familiarization but saves a significant amount of space on the center console. Lincoln's all-wheel-drive system does a good job of sending power to the wheels with the most traction on slippery roads but isn't intended for severe off-road use. If you don't mind a little slip in the snow, front-drive with good all-season tires should work fine 95 percent of the time.
The EPA ratings between the two engines are similar -- each netting 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway in front-drive trim. Both engines also run fine on regular-grade gasoline. Most drivers will average between 20-22 mpg in an even mix of city and suburban commuting. If your trip includes some highway driving, you might be able to nudge that number closer to 25 mpg overall.
Dynamically, the MKX is a tale of two suspensions. Opt for the base setup and you find the MKX to be completely benign and comfortable. The soft spring and shock settings make for a smooth ride but also induce some secondary and side-to-side motions on bumpy roads. Opt for the adaptive suspension and you have the opportunity to tune out some of that secondary queasiness and dial in a bit more athleticism - all with little impact on overall ride quality.
The MKX is one of the quietest crossovers on the road. Regardless of vehicle speed or road surface, there's very little rush or tire thrum. Engines are only audible in hard acceleration and have a refined, subdued note.
MKX's interior is a model of modern refinement. Materials are more than appropriate for the class and assembly quality is top notch. Gauges are easy to read and the center display is programmable and provides a multitude of information. If you can, find a model with the SYNC 3 system. It's much easier to use than the old system and offers additional functionality.
Front seats are nicely padded and provide great support. Head and leg room are exceptional. Outward visibility is somewhat restricted by thick pillars and a high-set rear window. That's offset by the multitude of available safety features like the rear-view camera and blind-spot alert.
Back-seat passengers will find plenty of comfort on the nicely padded bench seat, but head and leg room are only adequate - necessitating moving the front seats forward to accommodate taller folk. Either way, entry/exit are easy through large doors and the step-in height is low for the class.
With nearly 40 cubic feet available with the rear seats in use, cargo space is quite good. Fold those seatbacks and storage expands to nearly 70 cubic feet. Interior storage is just adequate but enhanced by an open bin beneath the center console accommodating a purse or handbag.
MKX is greatly improved for 2016. Strengths include an extremely quiet cabin, lots of comfort and convenience features, powerful and refined engines and good cargo space. It is also offered at a reasonable price. The new Black Label trim level ups the posh significantly but comes with a hefty price tag. Shop wisely and look for a model with SYNC 3.