THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Quiet, comfortable ride, with plenty of muscle when needed
- What’s Worst: Big upcharge for benefits of the 2.7-litre Ecoboost.
- What’s Interesting: Available 22-way front seats can be tailored to your backside – and they include massage
I could hear Matt McConaughey’s gentle, southern drawl each time I slid behind the wheel:
“I’ve been driving a Lincoln since long before anyone paid me to drive one . . . I didn’t do it to be cool . . . I didn’t do it to make a statement . . . I just liked it.”
Actually, I prefer the Jim Carrey spoof of these Lincoln ads – check it out on YouTube – but either way, this 98-year-old automaker has been getting some attention.
And not because it’s trying to match or outperform its taut-handling, high-strung European rivals. Lincoln isn’t playing the same game as Cadillac, but instead has set its crosshairs on the more comfy-riding Japanese brands, Lexus in particular.
I’ve often joked that Lincoln is granddad’s ride – possibly his last one. And that it’s so quiet you may think you’ve already shed the mortal coil.
Indeed, the passenger cabin of my all-wheel-drive 2016 Lincoln MKX tester (starting at $45,890, but optioned to $65,090) was a cocoon against the daily grind, aided not only by abundant sound-deadening materials and active noise control (cancelling unwanted sounds through the audio system), but with the suspension’s continuously-controlled damping (CCD).
A full suite of sensors monitors suspension, body movement, steering and braking – and adjusts damping in milliseconds. The driver-selectable CCD (comfort-normal-sport) still leaves you feeling connected to the pavement, at least gravitationally, but without the harshness that comes with expansion joints, bumps and potholes.
Lincoln’s goal is “Quiet Luxury.” This may sound cliché, not to mention being aimed at an older demographic, but it’s an experience that resonates with buyers not expecting a visceral connection with their automobile, and who have little desire to carve corners or hear the sonorous growl of the exhaust.
These folks just want to arrive at their destination relaxed, refreshed, and with a minimum of drama – which includes the kind we autojournalists typically enjoy.
But make no mistake. The MKX will rise to the occasion when prodded.
Its base 3.7-litre, naturally aspirated V6 is no wimp, producing 303 hp and 278 lb/ft of torque along with rated fuel economy of 14.4/10.3/12.5 L/100 km city/hwy/comb. That’s more muscle than the Lexus RX, albeit a little thirstier.
My tester version of the 2016 Lincoln MKX was powered by the available 2.7-litre, twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, which dials it up to 335 hp and 380 lb/ft at 3,000 rpm. That’s a lot from such small displacement.
It’s also the same engine as the $45,199 Edge Sport, which shares the platform but makes 20 hp and 30 lb/ft less.
In regular Drive mode, the 2016 Lincoln MKX moves quickly off the line, its six-speed automatic swapping gears smoothly and quietly. With so much torque available, passing is brisk and it comes with an audible exhaust note – civilized, not raucous. After all, this is a Lincoln.
RELATED: 2015 Lincoln Navigator Review
Sport mode delivers a quicker throttle response and later gear changes, but probably won’t get much use from most MKX buyers. Ditto for the tiny paddle shifters.
None of this, of course, contributes to the Zen-like experience that Lincoln buyers demand. Which begins in a cabin that is rich in premium materials like perforated leather upholstery, genuine wood accents and aluminum trim.
Standard features include heated 10-way power front seats with driver memory, power tilt/telescopic (leather-wrapped) steering with audio and cruise controls, dual-zone climate control, smart key with push-button and remote start, premium 10-speaker audio (with subwoofer) managed via an eight-inch display, reverse sensing system, power tailgate and “Lincoln Experiences.”
The current MKX is without the more intuitive SYNC 3 infotainment. I’ve driven enough Fords and Lincolns to navigate the old SYNC system with MyLincoln Touch, and with enough practice, you hopefully can too.
My tester was upfitted with a pile of extras, and if you have the budget, the 2016 Lincoln MKX can be made posh enough to offset any quibbles with finicky infotainment.
For example, $1,175 will get you 22-way power front seats with massage. It offers adjustability for side bolsters, lumbar and much more, tailoring the buckets to your backside. And the kneading massage (with heat) is nice for those early morning winter commutes.
As is the optional heated steering wheel. It’s part of a long content list that comes standard with the 2.7-litre turbo that starts nearly $10K more than the naturally aspirated MKX.
Included are seat cooling/heating in front and heating in rear, panoramic “Vista” roof with power sunshade, navigation, blind spot monitor with cross-traffic alert, auto high beams and more.
My ride also had the Luxury Package ($5,500), which, along with adaptive headlamps, includes the 19-speaker Revel audio system. A little pricey, perhaps, but my classic rock collection never sounded so good.
Overall, the MKX driving experience will appeal to more buyers than we gearheads are willing to admit.
Not because it delivers heart-pounding excitement.
But because it doesn’t.
RELATED: 2015 Lincoln MKC Review
2016 Lincoln MKX at a glance
BODY STYLE: Mid-size premium crossover
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 3.7-litre Ti-VCT V6 (303 hp, 278 lb/ft); as tested 2.7-litre twin-turbocharged direct injection EcoBoost V6 (335 hp, 380 lb/ft) Both engines mated with six-speed SelectShift automatic with paddle shifters and AWD.
FUEL ECONOMY: 3.7-litre, 14.4/10.3/12.5 L/100 km (city/hwy/comb); 2,7-litre, 14.1/9.7/12.1 L/100km (city/hwy)
CARGO CAPACITY: 1,055 litres, 1,948 litres with second row folded.
TOW RATING: 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) with Class II pkg
PRICE: 3.7-litre V6 (base) $45,890; 2.7-litre Ecoboost (starting) $53,940; as tested $65,090 – see website for packages and options