DETROIT - Lincoln comes close to the mark with the MKX. The luxury brand is trying to right its foundering fortunes in the US market and its most recent new product is a good start.
The MKS is a crossover, a sport- utility- like vehicle that uses car- like productions techniques. That means most crossovers ride and handle more like cars than like sport- utilities. That's true of the Lincoln MKX.
More important though is that the MKX looks good, real good. It is the first embodiment of Lincoln's new styling direction. It all starts with the face of the vehicle and the MKX's egg crate grille is a knock out. As Lincoln's rolls out new more new products in during the next several years, look for its grilles to get even more stylish.
But it's the streets where the MKX really excelled. Our test vehicle was front- wheel drive; all- wheel- drive is available as an option. It has a 265 horsepower V6 that made 250 pounds- feet of torque and it was mated to six- speed automatic transmission.
We had the vehicle while this area was rift with frustratingly irritating road construction. That meant we found ourselves off freeway and on surface streets dealing with more traffic than usually as folks tired to forge new ways to their destinations.
The MKX maneuvered well in the tight confines of neighborhood streets. Although our seating position was high, like that of a sport- utility, we never felt oversized. It cornered well, changed lanes swiftly and handled the bumps and steel plates as smoothing as could be expected. When we did get on the freeway, the MKX accelerated with authority.
We found the MKX to be a hybrid of sorts. On one hand it had creature comforts galore. There was satellite radio, a navigation system, rear seat entertainment setup, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, telescoping steering wheel, adaptive headlights and 18- inch chrome wheels.
On the other hand, our test vehicle was equipped with a Class II trailer towing package. It could pull up the 3,500 lbs and tote almost 1,000 in either front- wheel or all- wheel configuration. It wasn't bad at handling the smaller stuff either.
We were pleasant surprised when we pushed a button and the power tailgate lifted. We expected that but what we didn't expect was that second row of seats (the MKX is a five- passenger vehicle) flipped forward with a push of a button.
The bottom line is that we easily got a bundle of 10 extra large boxes that were folded flat into the vehicle. It was the sort of cumbersome package that folks deal with everyday. And it was the sort of thing that can really get on your nerves. The MKX made it easy.
However, there were a couple of things that we think Lincoln should address. The first may have been exclusive to our test vehicle. Whenever we put it in park and then took our foot off the brake, the vehicle would roll backwards a bit, perhaps three inches. It was pronounced when surfaces were of course sloped rearward.
We didn't think the interior was up to snuff either. It was nice, very nice for a premium vehicle. There was leather, a little wood and a lot of silver satin plastic made to look like brushed aluminum. But if Lincoln wants to reclaim its stature as a top- notch luxury brand, then it needs to upgrade the quality of its interiors notch or two.
Still, we think the Lincoln MKX is a viable alternative in the luxury crossover segment. Our test vehicle was base priced at $34,120 but with options it topped out at $41,925. That's right in line with its competitors.