Just about every luxury brand makes a crossover SUV. And just about every luxury brand trumpets its particular brand of magic, whether it is BMW's handling prowess, Audi's opulent interiors or Lexus's superior build quality. But the 2013 Lincoln MKX doesn't claim one particular advantage. It chooses instead to be a close runner-up in each category, giving owners a little taste of each at a price that undercuts most of its foreign and domestic competitors.
In luxury, technology and value, the MKX has most bases covered. But, when it comes to drop-dead-gorgeous styling, the jury is still out. Some love the MKX's massive double-winged grille-and-headlamp combo, while others see it as little more than Lincoln window dressing on a Ford Edge body.
The MKX is loaded with cool features, such as the new-for-2012 MyLincoln Touch. Fully integrated with the voice-activated SYNC communication system, MyLincoln Touch controls audio, Bluetooth, navigation and climate via touchscreen display. Many find the multiple display screens of the MyLincoln Touch system overly complicated and temperamental -- a complaint heard increasingly as luxury cars become more like rolling iPads and less like methods of transportation.
What's New for 2013
The MKX is largely unchanged for the 2013 model year, though it does add 22-inch wheels as a new option.
What We Like
Good ride and handling; state-of-the-art communications; quiet interior; reasonably priced
What We Don't
Awkward power lift gate rod; sluggish manual shifting; polarizing styling
Lincoln offers only one engine for the 2013 MKX: a sophisticated and robust 3.7-liter V6 that's good for 305 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. That's a lot of power, but it's necessary for a vehicle weighing 4,200 pounds. Fuel economy of 19 miles per gallon city/26 mpg hwy puts the MKX at the top of its class, not counting hybrid and diesel-powered competitors. Power is routed to the MKX's front wheels via a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission that also allows the driver to change gears manually.
Options & Standard Features
The 2013 Lincoln MKX is available in only one trim level, which starts around $40,000 with 2-wheel drive or $42,000 with all-wheel drive. As expected from a premium SUV, the MKX boasts a long list of equipment, including leather upholstery, a rear obstacle detection system, heated and cooled front seats, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and a power rear lift gate.
The MKX also offers a long list of high-tech options, from blind spot alert and rear cross-traffic alert to a rearview camera and rain-sensing wipers. Ford's SYNC system with MyLincoln Touch is standard, while navigation with traffic information is optional. The MKX also offers adaptive cruise control and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
The MKX features a full complement of airbags, including front side-impact and full-length side curtain airbags. The car is also equipped with rollover-detection sensors that employ the side airbags in a rollover accident. At the wheels, electronic traction and stability control are standard. Also on the available safety equipment list is the BLIS blind spot warning system and a rearview camera. A radar-based rear backup warning system is standard.
When crash tested, the MKX received four overall stars from the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received three stars in frontal-impact tests, four stars in rollover tests and five stars in side-impact tests.
Behind the Wheel
The 2013 Lincoln MKX has a solid, bricklike look that is mirrored in its driving performance. The MKX feels reliably stable at high speeds -- so much so that it is easy to slip past a 65-miles-per-hour speed limit without noticing. Ample sound-deadening material and laminated glass keep the MKX's interior whisper quiet, a tough feat for any vehicle with an exposed cargo bay.
The 305-hp V6 delivers excellent performance, and the SelectShift 6-speed automatic makes quick work of gear changes, though we weren't impressed with the manual shift mode, which seemed slow to take orders and not all that fun to play with. For our money, the added cost of all-wheel drive is well worth it: It provides better traction in foul weather and better handling on dry pavement.
Other Cars to Consider
Cadillac SRX -- The SRX's styling is a bit sharper than the MKX's, and it can be equipped with a more sophisticated electronic suspension. However, the less-expensive MKX has a bigger back seat and generally feels more athletic.
Audi Q5 -- Audi's Q5 has a more luxurious look and feel, both inside and out. Plus, it comes standard with quattro all-wheel drive. But opting for the MKX over the Q5 will save you a lot of money and give you more horsepower and a bigger interior.
Lexus RX350 -- Its styling may appear conservative, but the RX350's nearly flawless reliability and resale value beat the MKX.
Our choice would be the all-wheel-drive version of the MKX with both Premium and Elite packages. After all, if you're going to buy a Lincoln, it should be loaded. If you like the look and feel of the MKX but don't want all the technology and the high price, we suggest you look at the Ford Edge. It offers many of the MKX's basic luxury conveniences in a less-expensive and still-attractive package.