Words: Robert Nichols
Photography: Robert Nichols
Published: January 21, 2016
Something has been brewing at the Lincoln Motor Company. We can smell it from here. After decades of delivering little more than expensive versions of Ford vehicles, someone has taken a refreshed approach to the brand. The latest models have been very promising, and even more alluring with the deep voice of Matthew McConaughey to back it all up. Clearly, Lincoln has been striving for the same kind of resurgence that Cadillac is currently enjoying; a return to its heyday when big American cars were considered the lap of luxury.
In 2007, Ford was enjoying good sales with their mid-size CUV, the Edge. Lincoln wanted some of that action and decided to play around with the Edge’s foundation and introduced the MKX shortly after. Unfortunately, the MKX struggled to impress and was all but ignored by anyone who had driven any of its intended competitors.
Though it was a Lincoln, there was too much Edge and not enough luxury to justify why you chose it over say, the Lexus RX. It was an unpleasant and lingering feeling. Despite numerous alterations and mild stylistic changes over the years, MKX sales never took off and it seemed doomed to continue in the Lincoln tradition of being little more than an extravagantly priced Ford.
But lo and behold, Lincoln just released an all-new 2016 MKX. I was given the keys to one for a week and was eager to determine whether the new MKX was continuing to perpetuate the brand’s lackluster reputation, or if it could create resurgence to the fore front of the luxury market.
As I approached the MKX I was firstly impressed by the new looks. If you were not aware that this vehicle was based on the new Ford Edge, you would have never made the connection. The new face features a dual-wing grille that ever so slightly sweeps backwards implying motion. The available LED lighting is arranged in what Lincoln calls “Blades” and they provide an elegantly modern feel. The design does not draw attention to itself; rather it is subtle and dignified.
Inside, the subtle design language continues. The well-appointed cabin is flush with premium materials including aluminum, wood and leather. There are a few plastics, for instance the centre-stack, which detract from the upscale ambience but overall it is a very nice space to spend a commute or a Sunday drive.
Longer trips will not be a problem with the optional 22-way adjustable massage chairs for both front passengers. The thigh bolsters deflate when you shut off the vehicle to make it easier to get in and out; although once you are in them you will not want to leave. The rear seats feature impressive legroom and three adults will easily and happily fit for any drive.
On the grim side, there is a storage shelf below the centre console that is difficult to use. It is too low and the width of the console impedes access from a seated position. Anything you are likely to need while driving had best be stored elsewhere.
The latest version of Ford’s infotainment system, Sync 3, works amazingly well. After I picked up the MKX, it only took me the drive home to figure out how every controllable system was accessed. Furthermore, the 8” touchscreen features real knobs and buttons for the heating and radio functions, for those of us who prefer them. The dash setup is clean with almost Scandinavian levels of minimalism. I like it!
Within minutes I had reprogrammed the radio, fiddled with the suspension, interior lighting, audio, navigation and all 22 settings in my seat. The system didn’t even require me to take my hands off the wheel to flip through and adjust the various settings. I cannot say enough good things about it; it just works very well.
Having a fully-loaded MKX means I was able to enjoy all of the optional equipment including the very loud Revel 19-speaker audio system. The panoramic sunroof was always a favourite among my friends, as were the heated rear seats. Storage is ample and the automatic rear hatch is handy. Just put your right foot in and shake it all about.
A new feature for the MKX is the auto-hold function. When you are at a stop light or in a traffic jam, simply press the button and the brakes will remain applied. This keeps the vehicle at a standstill until you press the accelerator, allowing you to rest your leg as you enjoy a massage.
Other technologies include park assist with a 360 degree bird’s eye view, active park assist, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise and proactive collision avoidance with the ability to detect pedestrians. All of these safety features helped the 2016 MKX score a GOOD overall rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), even the challenging front small over-lap test received the GOOD rating (GOOD is the highest rating).
On the road, the Lincoln behaves remarkably like a Lexus. Rather than deliver a hard edged and uncomfortable (but sporty) ride like the German crossovers, the MKX is smooth, silky even. Bumps and ruts are handled with little or no jiggle.
When the time comes for a more festive driving experience, you can of course stiffen things up. However this will require you delving into sub-menus within the instrument cluster. On the bright side, the system will allow you to pre-program the transmission and suspension so you can quickly switch to the ride you want.
The base engine is the same unit found in the Ford Edge: a 3.7-litre naturally aspirated V6 that performs very adequately. The wanted engine, and incidentally the one I tested, is the smaller but more powerful 2.7 Ecoboost (turbocharged) V6. It delivers 335 hp and a capable 380 lb-ft of torque.
While the emphasis with this CUV is comfort, the upgraded engine allows you to dabble with some very sport-like figures. How does a 0- 96 km/h in 6.0 seconds grab you. Some readers may have noticed that number is more than half a second slower than a similarly equipped Edge Sport; such is the price for all that heavy luxury.
Around town, the engine remains virtually silent and even under heavy acceleration its presence is only just heard. The silence is created by a lot of insulation and an active sound cancellation system which pumps out imperceptible noise and effectively neutralizes the sounds we would usually hear.
All MKX models use the same 6-speed automatic. I was a bit surprised that there were only six ratios. On the highway, even one more gear would make a significant impact on fuel consumption, but that is little more than an observation and by no means a criticism.
The 6-speed performs nicely and only adds to the civilized and comfortable drive. In place of a gear lever there is a series of 4 buttons housed high up in the dash; also present are paddle-shifters that work well enough but I am puzzled who these are for. The sport mode seems pointless in such a coddling vehicle, and adding race inspired paddles goes against the very nature of the MKX.
What I liked about not having a real gear lever was the openness it creates in the centre console. As a technician, this lack of actual linkage stresses me a little, causing my mind to wander off into scenarios of being stranded in a blizzard with a faulty button preventing me from driving to warmth and safety. Likely though, people who buy vehicles like this will not keep them long enough to run into such issues.
Has the 2016 Lincoln MKX impressed me? Absolutely! By not following the trend to firm up the suspension to ridiculous and unreasonable levels, the Lincoln delivers exactly the type of ride a luxury CUV should. It is a perfect size for a family of four, with 1053 L of cargo space behind the back seats and 1948 L with seats folded.
The understated exterior and minimalistic interior exude a level of class well beyond the realm of some of its gaudy and showy competitors. Lincoln has finally succeeded in separating the MKX from the Edge, but if they can find a way to bestow this trend to the rest of their lineup, well, an American luxury resurgence is inevitable.
型号 Model: 2016 Lincoln MKX 2.7L Ecoboost AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Bronze Fire ($700)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $45,890
試車售價 Price as Tested: $67,590
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,850
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,826 / 2,187 (including mirrors) / 1,681
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,017
引擎 Engine: 2.7L Ecoboost V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 335 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 380 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic with SelectShift with paddle shift
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 13.8 / 9.8 / 12.4
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Verde All-Seasons; 265/40R21