Classed-Up and Cleaned-Up
Whether you love or hate luxury crossovers, they’re hot right now. The midsize premium utility segment currently represents 11 percent of the automotive luxury market on a global scale, and the segment’s only going to get more popular. To compete with the top players, Lincoln needed to class it up and clean up, and that’s exactly what the 2016 MKX appears to have done at the 2015 Detroit auto show.
The improvements are noticeable right away. Thankfully, the 2016 Lincoln MKX‘s appearance doesn’t stray from the concept we saw earlier this year. Like the handsome concept, the MKX wears a more subtle butterfly wing-style grille, with the outgoing car’s vertical slats giving way to a horizontal layout. This change helps pull the front end together, as the slats frame the available all-LED headlight system that uses slick-looking blade slapes rather than projectors. Also like the concept, the production MKX keeps the large, brushed-metallic bar that surrounds the side intakes on the lower front bumper. Other styling cues that have transferred from the concept’s rear to the MKX’s is the taillight arrangement and chrome accents around back, making it look just as good from the back as it does from the front. Customers will further be able to spice up the MKX’s appearance with two new Lincoln Black Label themes. One is inspired by 1920s art and fashion in Paris, while the other is inspired by horse racing. Yeah, we’re curious to see that, too.
Because it’s what’s inside that matters, Lincoln went above and beyond with the MKX, creating a “cocoon-like environment that is as quiet as it is beautiful.” Lots of brushed aluminum and soft-touch materials are found throughout the cabin, while more buttons and knobs decorate the center stack, which could mean less of the former model’s annoying capacitive touch switchgear. Also helping keep the interior looking fresh and clean is the push-button gear shift knob found in other newer Lincoln models.
Helping the 2016 MKX walk the luxury talk is a host of new premium features that are not only a first for the crossover, but also for Lincoln. A new auto-hold has the potential to make rush hour traffic a little more tolerable. This feature relieves the driver from continuously having to apply the brakes to keep the vehicle stationary in stop-and-go traffic, and once the gas pedal is depressed, auto-hold releases the brakes. Another first for Lincoln is adaptive steering and a feature on the LED headlights that, at slower speeds, adds width to the low beam pattern with additional reflector elements. The MKX is also the first in the Lincoln lineup to boast a a premium audio system from Revel, a new partner for the automaker. The top-trim Revel Ultima system, which comes standard on Lincoln Black Label editions and is optional on Reserve models, features 19 speakers and moving tweeters.
Other available features for the 2016 MKX include a 360-degree camera system, 22-way adjustable front-seats, an embedded hotspot, and pre-collision assist. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot assist, and cross-traffic alert can be checked off on the safety options list. The MKX is also welcoming in the sense that its LED headlights, puddle lamps, and door handles illuminate when it senses the key fob from 9 feet away.
Now for the stuff drivers everywhere want to know about. The 2016 MKX’s standard engine is a 3.7-liter V-6 that’s expected to make 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, according to preliminary test data. A 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6, projected to put out over 330 horses and over 370 lb-ft of torque, will also be available. No matter which engine customers choose, it will be attached to a six-speed automatic, with available all-wheel drive. Lincoln claims that a number of upgrades to the suspension, body structure, and chassis improve the MKX’s handling and ride quality. We’ll have to see about that.
The 2016 Lincoln MKX goes on sale in the U.S. before it reaches other markets including China, Canada, the Middle East, Mexico, and South Korea.