There’s never been a better time to be a auto shopper. Unrelenting and abundant competition has raised the bar in all segments and the end result is an automotive landscape in which excellence is the new normal. While this is great news for consumers, it’s bad news for the 2015 Lincoln MKX. Though the MKX is a passable entry in the luxury crossover segment, it’s less accomplished than most other models in its class. In today’s automotive environment, passable simply isn’t good enough.
To understand why this Lincoln feels so middling, it’s best to start by taking a look at the areas in which it falls short. Its biggest frailty concerns performance. Both acceleration and braking are merely mediocre — a notable deficiency in a segment dominated by models that can snap your head back with a tap of the pedal. Also, its automatic transmission can feel slow-witted due to sluggish downshifts. Another weakness has to do with the crossover’s MyLincoln Touch electronics interface, which can be challenging to learn and frustrating to use.
Of course, the picture isn’t entirely disappointing, and the MKX finds some redemption in its strengths. Its cabin is spacious and accommodating, and loaded with standard features. Also, this Lincoln looks good inside and out, and graciously forgives bumps and potholes as it glides down tarmac.
In the end, though, other models simply do a better job of delivering a first-rate premium-crossover experience. The 2015 BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 trump the MKX in performance and refinement, while the Acura MDX is value-rich and family-friendly. From American brands, the Cadillac SRX and Jeep Grand Cherokee are also strong alternatives. Though the MKX is certainly not a bad choice, we expect most buyers will be better served by the aforementioned competition.
Take a drive in a 2015 Lincoln MKX and you’ll almost certainly notice its civilized drive quality and hushed interior at highway speeds. In this regard, the MKX certainly meets expectations for a luxury crossover. Also notable are the MKX’s secure handling and precise steering, both of which make it easy to maneuver. Opting for the 22-inch wheels, however, can introduce some unwelcome drive firmness on rough pavement.
Meanwhile, the MKX’s 3.7-liter V6 engine provides adequate acceleration, but nothing more. The automatic transmission isn’t exactly eager to downshift either, so a firm stomp on the gas pedal may be required when you need to make a quick pass or merge swiftly into highway traffic.
The 2015 Lincoln MKX is a five-passenger crossover SUV offered in one trim level.
Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglamps, keyless ignition and entry, remote engine start, rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, heated side mirrors (auto-dimming on the driver side), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar support), cruise control, driver memory functions, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rear cargo management system and a 60/40-split-folding and reclining second-row seat. Electronic features include voice commands (Sync), Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system (includes a configurable instrument cluster and a central 8-inch touchscreen) and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface.
The Premium Equipment Group (Equipment Group 101A) adds polished 18-inch aluminum wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, automatic wipers, a rearview camera, interior mood lighting, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery and heated second-row seats.
The Elite Equipment Group (Equipment Group 102A) includes all of the above plus a panoramic sunroof, a navigation system, Sirius Traffic and Travel Link (not available in Alaska and Hawaii) and a 14-speaker THX surround-sound sound system. The navigation and surround-sound systems are also available as a separate bundle without the sunroof.
You can also get the MKX with the Limited Edition package, which features unique badges, 20-inch wheels, a unique center console and steering wheel, special leather upholstery, upgraded floor mats and headlamps etched with the Lincoln Star logo.
Stand-alone options include the panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, 22-inch wheels, roof rails and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual displays.
The 2015 Lincoln MKX’s cabin is well appointed, with handsome stitching, real aluminum accents and mostly satisfactory materials. Here and there you’ll find some cheap-feeling bits, but in general, the MKX’s interior is a nice place to be.
Of more significance is the MyLincoln Touch interface that comes standard in every MKX. It’s a technological tour de force, comprising two driver-configurable information screens, one elegant central touchscreen and a comprehensive voice control system. When it works, it’s awesome. However, many drivers will find the learning curve frustratingly steep, and the system can occasionally be slow to respond to your inputs. The lookalike controls and touchscreen icons can also be difficult to operate on the road. You might end up loving MyLincoln Touch, but make sure you spend some quality time with it during your test-drive to see if it’s a good fit.
Both rows of seating in the Lincoln MKX offer spacious accommodations. The backseat is notable for being able to seat three adults in reasonable comfort, thanks in part to the standard reclining rear seatbacks. The rear cargo area measures 32.3 cubic feet, which is barely more than what you get in the compact Audi Q5. Flip down the rear seatbacks, though, and the maximum capacity expands to a solid 68.6 cubic feet.
Standard safety equipment for the MKX includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, integrated blind spot mirrors and rear parking sensors. Also standard is the programmable MyKey system, which allows parents to limit car speed and stereo volume for teen drivers.
A rearview camera and a blind spot monitoring system (with rear cross-traffic alert) are optional, as are a forward collision warning system and automatic brake preparation for frontal collisions (both packaged with adaptive cruise control).
In SUVS brake testing, an MKX with 20-inch wheels stopped from 60 miles per hour in 133 feet, which is considerably longer than average.
In government crash tests, the MKX received an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five. Within that rating, the MKX earned an unusually low three stars for total frontal impact protection and five stars for total side impact protection. It fared better in tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, receiving the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
The 2015 Lincoln MKX is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 engine that generates 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive offered as an option. Properly equipped, the MKX can haul up to 3,500 pounds.
In SUVS performance testing, an all-wheel-drive MKX went from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.3 seconds — an unimpressive time for a car in this class, particularly one without an available engine upgrade.
The EPA’s fuel economy ratings are 21 miles per gallon combined (18 city/26 highway) with front-wheel drive and 19 miles per gallon combined (17 city/23 highway) with all-wheel drive. The miles per gallon ratings on the AWD MKX are below average for the segment.
Nicely equipped; quiet and cozy interior; smooth drive quality.
The 2015 Lincoln MKX is a competent five-passenger luxury crossover with plenty of features, but it falls short of most peers in overall performance and daily ease of use.