The 2016 Lincoln MKX Is Not a Luxury Vehicle, No Matter How Hard It Tries
There are some things that, no matter how you photograph them, won’t look high-end.
Ugg boots, Tupperware, those horrible neck pillows people wear at the airport ... Kate Moss herself could use them with all the best lighting and staging in the world, and they still wouldn’t look posh.
Neither will the 2016 Lincoln MKX. (Matthew McConaughey notwithstanding.) I took one uptown Sunday to cruise, as it were, the urban wilds, and to photograph it in front of the multimillion-dollar estates that line Park and Madison avenues. Put it in front of one of those whitewashed manses, I hoped, and its secret fancy side would emerge. (It had seemed a little like a hearse in my dark downtown haunts; sometimes a change of scenery can help such matters.)
Oh, it looked better, of course—the town-car grille, low stretched hips, and oblong windows didn’t look as gloomy in front of the gleaming sidewalks and trimmed shrubs of 73rd Street. But I found that even if you park it in front of Manhattan’s most expensive real estate, the Lincoln MKX will never look rich.
I just thank God the one I had was blue rather than black. Otherwise I would have been mistaken for an Uber driver for sure.
The MKX is the $48,000 crossover Lincoln developed on the Ford Edge platform. It is meant to help push the brand into relevance with a younger driving audience and is a harbinger for the forthcoming new Continental, out next year. If you’re considering its graces, see also the $41,000 Lexus RX and the $35,000 Acura RDX. I consider them among the same level as premium-but-not-quite-luxury crossover cars.
Audi’s Q3, BMW’s X3, Mercedes-Benz’s GLC, and Porsche’s Macan are superior in form and function, and, even in their highest variants, barely more expensive. Please, get any of those instead.
But let’s get down to brass (read: cheap) tacks: New for next year on the MKX is the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, which, chosen over the standard 3.7-liter V6, offers 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. (Those are increases of 32 hp and 100 lb.-ft., respectively, over the basic engine. And I do mean basic.) It has a six-speed automatic transmission on its all-wheel drive. Lincoln doesn’t specify its zero-to-60-mph time but expect it to fall among minivan ranks. Speed is not a priority here.
Want to know what it feels like to drive? Ever driven a Ford SUV, like the Explorer? Like that. It’s fine, like a competent cashier at a 7-Eleven. You say hey, you swipe, you sign, and you’re out. It barely registers as a transaction of any kind.
You will notice, however, its 4,447-pound bulk around corners. (Some of that is due to the fact that the MXK is longer, wider, and lower than its sibling, the Edge.) The steering should be tighter, which is part of the problem. Total fuel efficiency is 19 mpg, with 24 mpg possible on the highway and 17 mpg in the city. The car will tow 3,500 pounds—enough to cover the weight of your average ski boat.
Nice Things, Kinda
Here are some nice things I can say about the MKX: The engine is quiet, the ride is smooth. The active noise control, hill-start assist, and privacy glass help make it seem at least marginally more luxurious than a Ford, as do the LED headlamps that blink on automatically the moment you enter a tunnel.
The Bluetooth system swiftly integrates with cell phones; the 8-inch LCD touchscreen is easy to navigate. I found myself wishing for better sound, and more than the standard 13 speakers (19 optional) that come with three different listening modes. The whole thing sounded shallow.
You may love the fact that to engage drive, park, neutral, or reverse, you push a big fat button on the dashboard. (I did not – it felt condescending.) You may also love the panoramic sunroof, the hands-free rear gate, the heated and cooled seats, the rear- and parking-assist cameras, the blind-spot warning lights on the heated side mirrors. I appreciated all of these, though at this point they are basic tenets of any luxury vehicle on the market and deserve simple acknowledgement, not a special award.
It would help increase the opulence inside the MKX if the leather wrapped around the steering wheel and topping the seats was more extensive and of higher quality; the matte brown burled wood on the doors and center console is the best interior accent by far.
It would also help if the (optional) 20-inch rims were at least an inch wider. Compared with the larger wheels on other luxury SUVs, the standard 18-inch wheels on this rig look impotent.
Big Enough for Stuff
Lincoln has wisely decided to maintain the five-passenger configuration for the MKX, rather than try to fit in an extra row of seats. That frees up considerable legroom in the second row and ample storage in the back. Fold the seats down, and it’s enough to hold bikes, luggage, grocery bags, a dog cage, or sporting equipment, almost all at the same time.
Like the marginal leather and lackluster powertrain, though, these things feel like checked-off boxes in an aspirant’s ledger to achieve luxury, not like comforts born of a genuine appreciation for excellence.
I will note: There is a particulate-filtering air system that comes standard in the high-end version of the MKX. (That was the $58,740 “Reserve” version I drove.) That is a welcome addition, somehow, though I think it has more of a placebo effect than anything else. And the ambient lighting, like a candlelit dinner might an older woman, cast the interior in a flattering glow. Pity it couldn’t do anything for the exterior.