2016 Lincoln MKX

Rating

72/100

Background

When the Lincoln MKX first debuted in 2007, we recommended that shoppers consider pretty much any of its competitors first. While competent overall, the original MKX was lacking in areas that others excelled in, like cabin materials quality and overall driving character. It was obvious that the MKX shared more with its plebeian Ford Edge sibling than Lincoln cared to admit. Despite some significant changes in the intervening years, that lackluster first impression remained relevant throughout the first MKX’s long production run.
But the 2016 Lincoln MKX is an all-new, second-generation model, and it’s good enough to soften our stance. The MKX is still based on the Edge, of course, but Ford’s midsize crossover got a thorough redesign of its own last year, so Lincoln’s version benefits from the new platform’s numerous enhancements. On top of that, the MKX comes very well-equipped with convenience and luxury items, and when you step up to the higher trim levels, you can get exclusives like 22-way front seats and a 19-speaker Revel Ultima sound system. Under the hood, a newly optional turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine boasts 335 horsepower and respectable fuel economy, while the available adaptive suspension delivers a smooth drive in its default mode and can be firmed up for more driver control.
There are still a few downsides to the redesigned MKX, however, such as the retention of the older MyLincoln Touch interface instead of Ford/Lincoln’s new and improved Sync 3 system. Moreover, there’s the simple fact that this class is stuffed full of talented rivals. The 2016 Lexus RX 350, for example, is also redesigned this year with an aggressive new look and a high-quality interior, though it, too, has a less-than-ideal tech interface. If a roomy interior is what you’re after, the 2016 Acura MDX is a great choice, with abundant cargo room and a third row for the little ones. There’s also the BMW X5 and new Mercedes GLE, which outdo the Lincoln in multiple categories, but typically cost more, too. Overall, though, we feel the 2016 Lincoln MKX merits consideration alongside the segment’s best, and that counts as real progress for Lincoln’s up-and-coming midsizer.

Drive

The first thing you notice while driving the 2016 Lincoln MKX is nothing at all. We noted the supremely quiet drive in the last MKX, and with the new model’s improved insulation and active noise-cancellation system, there’s even more isolation from the outside world this time around. The MKX retains its signature comfort-oriented drive quality, although the available adaptive suspension dampers (AWD models only) stiffen it up just a touch for when the road gets squiggly. The base 3.7-liter V6 provides only adequate acceleration; we recommend opting for the smaller, turbocharged engine, as it’s considerably more potent and refined as well as slightly more fuel-efficient.

Exterior

The 2016 Lincoln MKX is a five-passenger crossover SUV. There are four trim levels (Lincoln calls them Groups): Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label.
Standard equipment for the 2016 Lincoln MKX in base Premiere trim includes 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension dampers (AWD models only), automatic xenon headlights, LED taillights, keyless ignition and entry, remote engine start, rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass, heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette upholstery, active noise cancellation, heated eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar support), driver memory functions, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a reclining, 60/40-split second-row seat with power-folding seatbacks.
Standard technology features include voice controls (Sync), Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, a rearview camera, 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, an auxiliary input and two USB ports.
The Select Group adds LED daytime running lights, power-folding side mirrors (the driver-side mirror gets an auto-dimming feature), a hands-free power liftgate, leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and wood trim. The optional Select Plus package adds a navigation system and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems.
The Reserve Group adds 20-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, ventilated front seats, mobile-app compatibility, a panoramic sunroof and the contents of the Select Plus package.
Finally, the Black Label variant builds upon the Reserve’s features with unique 20-inch wheels, LED headlights, a simulated suede headliner, upgraded leather upholstery and a Revel Ultima 19-speaker surround-sound sound system with HD radio. Each Black Label MKC gets a choice of four different design themes (Indulgence, Modern Heritage, Muse and Thoroughbred), each of which alters the trim and the color of the upholstery, headliner and carpeting. It also grants access to Lincoln’s Black Reserve program.
A variety of options packages are available for the 2016 Lincoln MKX. The Cargo Utility package can be ordered with any equipment group, and includes a scuff plate, cargo net and tie-downs, plastic storage bins, a 110-volt outlet and a cargo cover. The Climate package adds heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic windshield wipers and automatic high beams. The Reserve and Black Label versions get several unique packages, including Technology (front parking sensors, 360-degree camera system and automated parallel parking), Driver Assistance (adaptive cruise control plus additional features detailed in the Safety section, below) and Luxury (adaptive LED headlights and the Revel Ultima sound system).
Stand-alone options include 21-inch wheels, adaptive steering, 22-way-adjustable front seats, a trailer haul package, a 13-speaker Revel sound system (Select and Reserve), inflatable rear seatbelts and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual displays.

Interior

The 2016 Lincoln MKX’s cabin is well appointed, with plentiful soft-touch surfaces, a leather-wrapped dashboard and a carpeted cargo area. A variety of trim pieces are available, including aluminum and high-gloss or open-pore wood (providing a more textured look and feel). Amid all this luxury, though, there are a couple items that look and feel relatively low-rent, such as the transmission shifter controls and the plastics on the center stack.
Unfortunately, the MKX also soldiers on with the MyLincoln Touch interface rather than the new Sync 3 system that’s percolating throughout Ford’s car lineup. MyLincoln Touch remains a technological tour de force, comprising two driver-selectable information screens, one elegant central touchscreen and a comprehensive voice-control system. However, many drivers will find the learning curve frustratingly steep, and the system can occasionally be slow to respond to your inputs. 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.
The Lincoln MKX has grown slightly longer and wider with the 2016 redesign, offering even more room than its already spacious predecessor. 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 37.2 cubic feet, and, with the rear seats flipped down, the maximum capacity expands to 68.8 cubic feet. These are respectable numbers that put the MKX in line with class standards.

Safety

Standard safety equipment for the MKX includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, integrated blind spot mirrors, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. Also standard is the programmable MyKey system, which allows parents to define parameters such as car speed and stereo volume for teen drivers.
A blind-spot monitoring system (with rear cross-traffic alert) is optional, as are rear parking sensors. The optional Driver Assistance package includes lane-departure warning, lane-departure intervention, forward collision warning, forward collision mitigation with automatic braking (with pedestrian detection) and a driver drowsiness monitor.
In government crash tests, the 2016 MKX received an overall rating of five stars out of a possible five. Within that rating, the MKX earned five stars for total frontal impact protection and total side impact protection.

Specs

The base engine in the 2016 Lincoln MKX is a 3.7-liter V6 that generates 303 hp and 278 pound-feet of torque. A new turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 is also available; it produces a healthier 335 hp and 380 lb-ft 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.
EPA fuel economy ratings for the base engine are 20 miles per gallon combined (17 city/26 highway) with front-wheel drive and 19 miles per gallon combined (16 city/23 highway) with all-wheel drive. The 2.7-liter engine is rated at 21 miles per gallon combined (17/26) with front-wheel drive and 19 miles per gallon combined (17/24) with all-wheel drive.

Value

Quiet interior with spacious rear seating; cozy drive quality; a lot of features for the money; strong turbocharged V6 engine option.

Verdict

The completely redesigned 2016 Lincoln MKX is now a more competitive midsize luxury crossover SUV. Comfortable and well-equipped, it’s certainly worth a look.

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