Companies in the business of building luxury cars must now also build luxury crossover SUVs, and each brand has its own unique take on what a "luxury crossover" should be. In BMW's case, it's about performance, while Audi places an emphasis on posh interiors, and Lexus focuses on superior build quality and longevity. But, in the 2014 Lincoln MKX, Ford's luxury division seems content to settle for 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 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 modes of transportation.
What's New for 2014?
The 2014 Lincoln MKX receives an available Limited Edition Package that includes soft ceramic-colored leather seating. Leather also adorns the center console, head restraints, instrument panel and steering wheel.
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 2014 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 18 miles per gallon city/26 mpg hwy (17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive) places the MKX at the top of its class, not counting hybrid and diesel-powered competitors. Power is routed to the MKX's wheels via a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission that also allows the driver to change gears manually.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Lincoln MKX is offered in only one trim with a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The MKX ($39,470) includes 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a rear obstacle-detection system, heated and cooled front seats, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Intelligent Access with push-button start and MyKey programmable key fob, Easy-Fuel capless fuel system, the Reverse Sensing system, SYNC with MyLincoln touch, Premium audio with 10 speakers and 2 USB ports, Bluetooth, remote start, speed-sensitive front wipers, configurable instrument cluster, manual tilt/telescoping steering column and a power rear lift gate.
Options include all-wheel drive and two equipment packages. Equipment group 102A includes the Premium Package that adds the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, HID adaptive headlights, a power tilt/telescopic steering column and memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering column position. Also included are heated side mirrors, a rearview camera, heated rear seats, premium perforated leather seating, rain-sensing wiper and a heated steering wheel.
Equipment Group 101A adds voice-activated navigation and a panoramic sunroof.
Other packages include the Limited Edition Package, a tow package and wood trim package.
Standalone options for the MKX include rear-seat DVD entertainment system, Adaptive Speed Control with front Collision Warning and brake support, and a number of dealer-installed equipment items.
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 deploy 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. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2014 Lincoln MKX its highest rating of Good in all crash-test categories for which it was tested.
Behind the Wheel
The 2014 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, plus there is a hybrid model, the RX400h.
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.