Test Drive: 2016 Lincoln MKX

2016lincoln_mkx_05_hrEver since the launch of the excellent, Matthew McConaughey-endorsed MKC, we’ve been enamored with Lincoln and its quest to reclaim its standing as a premium luxury brand. Lincoln continues its ascent in the market with the MKX mid-sized luxury crossover, and ups the luxury quotient with the introduction of two new Black Label themes, available locally exclusively at Sanderson Lincoln.

MKX is similar to the MKC in look and execution, but with larger proportions that afford more space for passengers and cargo. It is loaded with advanced technology and safety features, incorporating semi-autonomous systems, while retaining a dynamic experience that is satisfying for those drivers who still enjoy being in control.

I drove the MKX to from Scottsdale to southern California, and found it to be an ideal road trip vehicle. This particular MKX came equipped with a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine rated at 335 horsepower; the base engine is a 303-horsepower V-6. The ride is among the best I’ve experienced, truly exceptional in terms of handling, comfort and road feel. While it is library-quiet and smooth on the road, it is solid and athletic, eschewing the “floating” feel sometimes associated with non-German luxury vehicles.

2016lincoln_mkx_07_hrContributing to this dynamic road feel are the all-new adaptive steering and electric power-assisted steering (EPAS). Without getting too technical, these features improve the steering response in a few ways. Basically, adaptive steering reduces the amount the wheel needs to be turned by continually adjusting the ratio between the driver’s input and the steering angle of the front wheels. EPAS reduces the amount of effort needed to steer by providing an additional power boost at lower speeds and more feedback at higher speeds. Drivers can select normal, sport or comfort modes to suit their preference. On the highway, I preferred sport mode, which provides a little more feedback to the driver and makes the MKX feel a tad bit more powerful.

Additional technology helps avoid or lessen the severity of frontal crashes, keeps you in your lane, alerts you to blind spots or approaching traffic, and senses slowing traffic when cruise control is employed. The MKX will even park itself. I tried out the Active Park Assist in the hotel parking lot, and will admit that it freaked me out, more than a little. Relinquishing control of your vehicle, even to the slightest degree, is a scary thing. Confession: I aborted the process twice (ok, maybe three times) before mustering up the courage to let the MKX do its thing. But, behold, the MKX alerted me to an available parking spot, directed me when to shift and (the really frightening part) let go of the steering wheel. It pulled forward, the steering wheel whirred around and the MKX effortlessly backed into the parking space. And I breathed a deep sigh of relief as I pushed the “Park” button.

I can continue to rave about the drive quality and technology, but equally impressive are the style and function of the interior. When I say this is the perfect road-trip car, I do not exaggerate. First, there’s the Revel audio system piping your favorite soundtrack throughout the cabin. Throw in the most comfortable seats in the business AND equip them with 22-way adjustment and an Active Motion massage feature, and you might be tempted to take a long drive just for the heck of it, with no destination in mind.

Lincoln MKX
Black Label Muse, a nod to the fashion and lifestyle of 1920s Paris.

You don’t just drive the MKX; you experience it. It greets you with an illuminated Lincoln “welcome mat” from nine feet away, a seemingly silly thing that always made me smile and feel special as I approached the vehicle. Sequential ambient lighting inside begins at the bottom of the cabin, proceeds to the cupholders, pass-through, instrument panel, and so on throughout the vehicle. It makes you feel at home. It is luxurious, yet accessible, and personal.

Lincoln MKX Thoroughbred
Black Label Thoroughbred, inspired by the pageantry of high-stakes horse racing.

For the ultimate in personalized elegance, choose from four Black Label themes for your MKX. Two are new: The Muse features a duotone palette of Rogue Noir and Quartz leather that recall the fashion and culture of the Roaring Twenties; Thoroughbred celebrates the elite lifestyle of horse racing, with a jet black interior highlighted with rich Chestnut leather. Additionally available are Modern Heritage, a high-contrast white interior highlighted by crimson stitching; and Indulgence, with Ganache and Truffle leathers that create a rich, sensory experience. What’s your pleasure? A Sanderson Black Label Concierge can help fulfill your desire.

I had fun with my MKX during the weeklong test drive. It is unpretentious, yet elegant; refined yet athletic. It feels personal; it pampers you, and it makes you want to get out and drive. Lexus RX may be the class-leader in terms of sales, but MKX could steal a piece of the pie.

The experts at Sanderson Lincoln can match you with your ideal MKX, starting at $39,025 for the Premiere trim level; Black Label models start at $54,240. The exceptionally equipped Reserve model tested here was priced at $63,275.

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