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2018 Lincoln MKX: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Lincoln Nautilus, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Lincoln Nautilus Review

The 2018 Lincoln MKX is in its final year, with the captivating Lincoln Nautilus set to take its place in 2019. So should you wait? That’s a tough call. The MKX still represents an excellent value in a luxury crossover SUV, and even though it still owes much of its mechanical underpinnings to the Ford Edge, it no longer looks like a Ford clone wearing a Lincoln grille. The same can be said of Nautilus, which will keep much of the MKX’s sheet-metal and mechanical underpinnings. However, newer competitors like the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Jaguar F-Pace offer more features and fresher styling.

Unlike the above-mentioned rivals, the MKX offers a choice of two potent V6 engines, one being a turbocharged delight that we just can’t get enough of. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional, but don’t look for a diesel or hybrid model, because Lincoln isn’t offering either. Of course, the Lincoln name is synonymous with luxury, and the 2018 MKX excels in this area. From its elegant interior to its many trim and option packages — including the exclusive but pricey Black Label — the MKX is the midsize luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) that re-establishes Lincoln’s place on the world stage.

What’s New for 2018?

Late upgrades to the 2017 MKX, such as the addition of the SYNC 3 infotainment system and optional adaptive steering, carry over to the 2018 model See the 2018 Lincoln MKX models for sale near you

What We Like

Distinctive exterior design; opulent interior; reasonable entry price; powerful engine options; smooth ride; roomy rear seat

What We Don’t

Price tag of Black Label trim is high; some interior trim pieces need better quality control; gimmicky push-button gear selector

How Much?

$39,960-$66,500

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Lincoln MKX offers two engine choices, both of which can be had with AWD or front-wheel drive (FWD). The standard engine is a 3.7-liter V6 that’s good for 303 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. Fuel economy for FWD models is 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. AWD versions earn 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy.

Optional is a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6, which is good for an impressive 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque (using 93-octane). Employing the same 6-speed automatic, the EcoBoost engine returns fuel economy ratings of 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy (FWD) and 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy (AWD).

Standard Features & Options

Lincoln’s MKX for 2018 is offered in four trims: Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label. All can be equipped with the optional 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine and AWD.

The Lincoln MKX Premiere ($39,960, FWD; $42,455, AWD) features 18-inch painted aluminum wheels, HID headlights, a reverse-sensing system, a capless fuel filler, heated power mirrors, intelligent access with push-button starting, remote starting, rear privacy glass, faux leather seating, heated front seats, a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar and driver memory settings, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, a 9-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an amplified subwoofer and two USB ports, SYNC 3, dual-zone automatic climate control, a configurable instrument cluster, an 8-in color touchscreen, integrated blind spot mirrors, speed-sensitive intermittent wipers, a manual tilt-telescopic steering column, cruise control, Bluetooth, Active Noise Control, a SecuriCode keyless-entry keypad, a rearview monitor and the MyKey programmable key fob.

The MKX Select ($43,475, FWD; $45,970, AWD) adds LED daytime running lights, a hands-free power lift gate, Bridge of Weir leather seating, ambient lighting, a power tilt-telescopic steering column with memory and power-folding side mirrors.

The MKX Reserve ($47,485, FWD; $49,980, AWD) adds adaptive front headlights, heated and cooled front seats, an embedded modem, voice-activated navigation with SiriusXM Travel Link and Traffic, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, a panoramic glass Vista Roof and 20-in wheels.

The MKX Black Label ($55,155, FWD; $57,650, AWD) adds LED headlights, Alcantara headliner and pillar wraps, Venetian leather seating, inflatable rear outboard seat belts and the 19-speaker Revel Ultima sound system. There are also three different themes for the Black Label MKX, and each is distinguished by unique colors and fabrics. They are Thoroughbred, Modern Heritage and Indulgence. Along with the Black Label features, owners also gain access to the Black Reserve Program of personalized services.

Optional equipment for the MKX is bundled mostly into packages. The Select Plus package adds navigation, while the BLIS package adds a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert. The Climate package brings a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, automatic high beams and rain-sensing wipers. On Reserve and Black Label trims, the Luxury package brings LED adaptive headlights and the 19-speaker Revel Ultima sound system. The Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and aid and precollision assist with active braking. The Technology package brings parallel-park assist, front-parking sensors and a 360-degree monitor.

Standalone options include 22-way adjustable front seats, 21-in alloy wheels, inflatable rear seat belts, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a smaller 13-speaker Revel audio system.

Safety

Lincoln equips every MKX with a long list of standard safety features, including the Safety Canopy System (front, front-side, driver’s-knee and side-curtain airbags), electronic traction and stability control, SOS post-crash alert system and a tire-pressure monitor. Unique features, such as the programmable MyKey fob that allows parents to set limits on speed and radio volume, further elevate the MKX’s safety credentials.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 MKX an overall score of five out of five stars, with four stars in the rollover test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the MKX its best rating of Good in the moderate-overlap front and side crash test, and a Superior rating in the crash-avoidance and mitigation test when equipped with the optional precollision and autonomous braking systems.

Behind the Wheel

The first thing that struck us about the 2018 MKX is just how handsome it is, both inside and out. Everyone on our staff who spent time in the luxury SUV commented on its attractive exterior appearance and its gorgeous interior. Automotive Data Manager Ben Cheney went as far as to say that the cabin is "absolutely stunning" and noted that "the wood trim is beautiful." He also commented that he was especially fond of the gorgeous brown leather on the "stunning, swooping" dashboard.

Our test model was equipped with the 2.7-liter turbocharged engine, and we came away highly impressed. While fuel economy was merely average at around 20 mpg in combined driving, performance was excellent. Ben called the car’s powertrain "impressive," and the crossover’s sports carlike 0-to-60-mph time of around 6 seconds speaks for itself. While the 3.7-liter engine is certainly powerful enough to motivate the MKX, we highly recommend upgrading to the turbocharged powerplant instead.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Lexus RX — The RX’s styling can be polarizing, but its long-term reliability and resale figures are beyond reproach. We also think the RX has a higher-quality interior, plus Lexus offers a hybrid model.

2018 Cadillac XT5 — The XT5 is a newer design with a robust V6 engine, but it offers less passenger and cargo room and isn’t as well equipped at the base level.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE — The GLE is a more complete luxury SUV and features better craftsmanship and a wide range of models, including a choice of a diesel, hybrid or high-performance engine. However, the GLE will cost quite a bit more than a comparably equipped MKX.

Used BMW X5 — A used 2012-2016 BMW X5 will give you loads of power, great handling and a luxury name that always brings admirers. The X5’s ride is going to be much more firm than the MKX’s, and when its warranty is up, the cost of routine maintenance will likely be expensive.

Autotrader’s Advice

For its combination of luxury, power and price, our choice would be an MKX with the Reserve trim and the 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, plus the Climate, Luxury, Driver Assist and Technology packages. AWD is great if you need the added traction, but it’s not a must-have feature. The Black Label model offers the most-luxurious interior, but at a price that may be hard to swallow.

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