You'll Like The 2011 Lincoln MKX If...
You may like the 2011 Lincoln MKX if you like to balance luxury and an impressive range of standard equipment with a reasonable price point. Even a standard MKX comes loaded with both convenience and safety features, like the MyLincoln Touch multimedia interface, or Lincoln's Personal Safety System, with dual-stage front airbags and front safety belt pretensioners, and the Safety Canopy System with rollover-sensing capability and side curtain airbags.
You May Not Like The 2011 Lincoln MKX If...
You may not like the MKX if you expect to fly completely under the radar. The MKX's styling is nothing if not in your face, with a battering ram front fascia and a whole lot of chrome. Depending on your view, all of that could be good or bad.
Lincoln claims the MKX enters its segment with both class-leading power output and fuel economy from its 305 horsepower, 3.7-liter V6, which returns 19/26 mpg (city/hwy) on the FWD model, and 17/23 when equipped with all-wheel drive. The 2011 MKX also offers a range of posh standard equipment, including the extremely cool MyLincoln Touch user interface.
We feel the interior quality represents and night-and-day difference over its predecessor. The center stack, stitched center console, and new wrapped and stitched instrument panel in particular convey a recognizable sense of style. The instrument cluster incorporates two full-color LCD screens, the left containing information such as the trip odometer, average fuel economy, and selected vehicle settings, the right allowing users to interface with the multimedia technology.
The styling of the 2011 Lincoln MKX, particularly the front, could be deemed somewhat controversial. But of course that's all open to subjective debate. Lincoln itself points out the extreme attention to detail, in the head- and tail lamps for example, with a "floating chrome bezel" and available adaptive HIDs fore, and an "indirect LED system" in the rear that hides the light source while still allowing the intensity to shine through. Lincoln also points to the new 18-inch (standard) and 20-inch (optional) wheels as pointed elements of the car's overall design.
One thing we'd definitely do: Pass over the FWD for the AWD platform. Given the goodly output from the 305-hp V6 (with a not-insignificant 280 lb-ft of peak torque), you can expect perceptible torque steer from the front-drive model under spirited acceleration. On the topic of get-up and go, there's more than enough, thanks not only to the significant bump in horsepower (40) over the 2010 car, but also to the six-speed automatic transmission. Finally, and not that the typical crossover-crossover buyer will be looking for it, but either model comes with a satisfying growl when the gas pedal is depressed and the big six is put to use.
The base front-wheel-drive 2011 Lincoln MKX starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $40,000. The all-wheel drive version rings in at a relative hair more, closer to $42,000. This puts the MKX at a marked advantage against its European competition, like the $47,000 Mercedes-Benz ML350. At $39,000 base, the Lexus RX 350 might be its strongest price-point competition – but with significantly less power (275 hp). That said, it should be pointed out that the MKX is also priced at a disadvantage to competition in its own corporate fold, like the Ford Edge, which starts under $28,000 and tops out close to $38,000. To see what the MKX is currently selling for in your area, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com. When it comes to residuals, the MKX sees average resale values, performing on par with the Edge but below the ML350 and RX 350.
For the base price, whether you go FWD or AWD, the 2011 Lincoln MKX comes with a wide range of standard equipment. At the top of the list is the voice-controlled SYNC technology – which allows the user to control the radio, MP3 player, navigation system (note that nav is an available option), or the climate control systems – and the touch-sensitive MyLincoln Touch interface. The MKX also includes niceties like heated and cooled seats that, once you use on a particularly cold morning or hot afternoon, you'll never know how you got along without them.
Although we often feel premium vehicles such as this should come with this option standard – yet most don't – the MKX is available with "intelligent access," which allows you to lock and unlock the car by touch, and start and stop the engine with a single button. There is also the optional all-wheel drive for an $1,850 premium that enhances the driving experience through improved grip on the road surface.
You've got to love the Ford Group's SYNC technology. Not only is it fun to use, it pretty much negates the peril of manually interacting with your multimedia while you're caught up in the act of driving. Despite having the shortcomings in recognition (with which all speech systems are plagued), the SYNC now recognizes more than 10,000 commands.
For less than $2,000, you can opt for the all-wheel-drive MKX over the front-driver and instantly supersize your overall driving experience. It's true that the AWD likely will not net the fuel economy figures of the front-drive version under similar conditions, but we're willing to sacrifice a little bit of gas for a more engaging go behind the wheel.
Under the Hood
The 2011 Lincoln MKX is available with just one powerplant, but it's a good one: a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 305 peak horsepower – 40 more than the outgoing product, as well as fuel economy that has increased by one mile per gallon in each category: city, highway, and combined. This is largely due to the introduction of Ti-VCT variable camshaft timing technology. Both the claimed power output and fuel economy figures put this engine in at the top of the class in its segment. In both the FWD and AWD models, the V6 is linked to a six-speed Selectshift automatic transmission.
305 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
280 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (FWD), 17/23 (AWD)
Lincoln's MKX enters the market in a rapidly expanding segment – the luxury crossover, a decidedly gray area on today's automotive landscape. Therefore, it will have plenty of competition to deal with both in and out of segment, from cheaper and equally accommodating offerings from parent company Ford (the Edge) to high-end European examples (Mercedes-Benz ML) to a new breed of what might be termed "crossover crossovers," that is, crossovers mated with traditional mid-size sedan platforms, like the Honda Accord Crosstour, Toyota Venza, or at the upper end, BMW 5 Series GT. The 2011 MKX will be offered in two iterations: the basic front-wheel drive (FWD) platform, or an all-wheel drive (AWD) model for about $2,000 more.