Car Review

2012 Lincoln MKX: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Joe Tralongo May 2012

Pros: Good ride and handling, state-of-the-art communications, quiet interior, reasonably priced

Cons: Awkward power liftgate rod, sluggish manual shifting, polarizing styling

Just about every luxury brand makes a crossover SUV. And just about every luxury brand trumpets its particular brand of magic, be it BMW's handling prowess, Audi's opulent interiors or Lexus's superior build quality. But the Lincoln MKX doesn't claim one particular area of advantage. It chooses instead to be a close runner-up in each category, giving its 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. If you're reading this review, odds are you like the MKX's looks. What you most likely want to know is, how does this vehicle measure up to others in this category?

The MKX is loaded with cool features, like the new-for-2012 MyLincoln Touch. Fully integrated with the voice-activated SYNC communication system, MyLincoln Touch controls audio, Bluetooth, navigation and climate control via touchscreen display. Many people find the multiple display screens of the MyLincoln Touch system overly complicated and temperamental, a complaint heard more and more as luxury cars become more like rolling iPads and less like methods of transportation.

Comfort & Utility

The MKX is richly appointed, with fine leather, wood and chrome trim. The overall design isn't groundbreaking, but the technology stored within it is unrivaled. You can easily change the interior footwell and door lighting colors or control a variety of entertainment and convenience features by using voice command,  steering wheel controls or display screen. The five-passenger MKX can comfortably seat four adults, with heated and cooled front seats and optional rear seat heaters for the outboard seating position. The available dual panel panoramic moonroof lets everyone enjoy the sunlight, but only the front passengers get to let in fresh air.

Among five-passenger SUVs, the MKX is in the middle of the pack for cargo room behind the rear seat. The cargo area is hindered by an awkward extendable plastic rod used to operate the power rear liftgate. The rod looks like it was fashioned from a vacuum cleaner attachment. We're not sure why Lincoln would opt for such a goofy system on a premium SUV.

Technology

The highlight of the MKX's technology suite is the MyLincoln Touch system. Audio, cell phone, navigation and climate control functions are color coded on the large center console LCD screen - impressive, but a technical overkill. Should you really have to scroll through numerous screens or speak a series of specific commands just to change the temperature or adjust bass and treble controls?

On the other hand, slider controls for the audio and climate control are among the most elegant features on the Lincoln MKX. The user need only slide a finger across the glowing blue glide bar to control volume or fan speed.

Other notable options include radar-guided Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning, a rear-view camera, the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and a 650-watt, 14-speaker THX audio system. We also love the heated steering wheel, adaptive HID headlamps and power liftgate.

Performance & Fuel Economy

Lincoln offers only one engine for the 2012 MKX, a sophisticated and robust 3.7-liter V6 with variable valve and camshaft timing that is good for 305 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. That's a lot of ponies, but they're necessary for a vehicle weighing 4,200 pounds. Fuel economy figures of 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway put 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 manually change gears, a nice feature when passing slow moving traffic or controlling descent speed on steep grades.

Optional on the MKX are AWD and a trailer towing package that allows trailering up to 3,500 pounds. This package also adds Lincoln's electronic trailer sway control, which uses a combination of braking and throttle reduction to help keep a swaying trailer from getting out of control.

Safety

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 the event of 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 rear-view camera. A radar-based rear backup warning system is standard equipment.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 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-mph speed limit without noticing. Ample use of sound-deadening material and laminated glass keeps the MKX's interior whisper quiet, a tough feat for any vehicle with an exposed cargo bay.

The 305 horsepower V6 delivers excellent performance, and the SelectShift 6-speed automatic makes quick work of gear changes, although we weren't very 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 AWD is well worth it: AWD 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 a bit conservative, but the RX350's nearly flawless reliability and resale value beat the MKX.

AutoTrader Recommends

Our choice would be the AWD 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 take a look at the Ford Edge. It offers many of the MKX's basic luxury conveniences in a less expensive and still attractive package.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Lincoln MKX: New Car Review - Autotrader