We’ll admit it. Lincoln has made some serious strides lately. This isn’t your granddad’s Lincoln. It’s a stylish, sophisticated SUV with a handsome exterior and impressive interior. High safety and reliability scores don’t hurt either.
However, Lincoln can’t yet consider itself “one of the boys” in the luxury segment. It doesn’t offer the refinement found in the Germans nor the value offered by Lexus or Acura. It sits between the two groups in an awkward middle ground.
Most pragmatic shoppers will purchase the latter for their exceptional reliability and stronger resale values. Those looking for superior performance and curb appeal will likely shell out a few thousand extra for an Audi Q7 or BMW X5.
Still, tens of thousands of these SUVs are sold each year, so you may find it fits your needs just right. If you do, please let us know why you picked the MKX over its many worthy competitors.
The biggest problem with a value conversation about the MKX is the existence of its corporate cousin, the Ford Edge. It offers many of the same features in a lighter, higher performing package albeit a less luxurious one.
The Edge Sport has an MSRP of $40,400, just a few hundred more than the base MKX. For your money, you get a whole lot more in the Edge Sport than the MKX, which requires moving up the trims to receive superior luxury touches and $2,00 extra for the twin turbo 2.7 Liter.
Once you move up the trims, the price puts you smack in the middle of German rival territory. Not only do these competitors offer better badge appeal, many offer a superior interior and improved driving dynamics.
Perhaps the only reason to choose the Lincoln is it's better reliability record, which isn’t a bad reason to choose it over the others.
The MKX is powered by one of two engines available, a standard 303 horsepower 3.7 liter nonaspirated V6 and an optional twin-turbocharged EcoBoost 2.7 Liter V6 that makes 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque.
Both are mated to a six-speed paddle-shiftable automatic transmission. The MKX can be had in either Front Wheel Drive or All Wheel Drive. We think the latter is well worth the extra dollars if you’re trying to take advantage of the Lincoln’s performance prowess.
The problem with the FWD drivetrain is that the weight shifts back under acceleration, decreasing grip and thereby decreasing both acceleration and handling performance. The result is an SUV that’s a second or so slower to sixty in FWD form.
For example, the 2.7T FWD will do zero to sixty in 7 seconds, while the AWD 2.7T will do the same in just 6 seconds flat. We realize most Lincolns will not be pushed to their limits very often, but it’s worth noting.
If you’re going to go with an FWD model, you might as well save money and stick with the base engine which delivers plenty of power and roughly the same fuel economy. That money is better spent on the 22-way massaging seats.
If you’re itching for performance, there’s no good reason to choose the MKX over the lighter, quicker, and cheaper Ford Edge Sport. One reason to choose the MKX over its blue-collar brother is the exceptional ride quality. It retains the exceptional firmness of the Ford while magically offering a smoother, quieter ride.
The MKX doesn’t blend comfort and performance better than German rivals, but this Lincoln is taking steps in the right direction.
Lincoln claims their interiors are “distinctive by design.” They’re not wrong. Nearly every inch of the cabin oozes luxury. There are soft-touch materials throughout and exquisite wood and brushed aluminum trim. Multiple color themes offer various two-tone color options, we’re particularly fond of the Terracotta trimmed Reserve.
The center console is clean, thanks to the push button transmission mounted next to the infotainment system. Speaking of, early models receive a Lincoln MyTouch infotainment system that isn’t as intuitive as the now standard SYNC 3 system. The SYNC 3 system now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
The front seats are supportive, if a bit narrow. The optional 22-way power adjustable front seats are sublime. The digitally customizable massage function melts away the stress of traffic-riddled commutes.
The rear row accommodates large adults with ease and can be equipped with a power folding feature and seat warmers. An active noise cancellation system keeps the cabin whisper quiet unless you opt for the 13 or 19 speaker Revel audio system with body shaking bass.
A rear seat headrest-mounted DVD system is available to keep your passengers entertained. An optional hands-free power liftgate allows access to the cargo space via the wave of a foot.
The generous 37.2 cubic feet behind the rear row and 68.8 cubes overall will easily swallow most items you plan to haul, including large bikes without removing the front wheels.
The interior quality of the MKX proves Lincoln can finally begin being taken seriously as a luxurious alternative to das Germans.
The Lincoln MKX is built on Ford’s CD4 platform, which it shares with the Ford Edge. The SUVs share a similar profile but the LIncoln version is classed up a bit. There are dual chrome grilles which mesh seamlessly with the modern HID headlamps.
Below a chrome trimmed intake wears LED daytime running lamps on all but the lowest trim. The side profile is just like the Edge but with different body panels and unique sculpting.
The rear is similar to the edge as well, but with different LED tail lights that stretch across. There’s a piece of tailgate emblazoned with a LINCOLN badge, whereas the Edge’s lights merge seamlessly with the rear window.
The MKX has a less aggressive rear spoiler but the same bright chrome dual exhaust outlets. The MKX rides on different 18-inch aluminum wheels on the lower trims and 20-inch machine polished aluminum wheels on the highest trim.
Multiple wheel options are available, including giant 21-inch rims. Overall, the Lincoln is a stylish SUV that exhibits a tasteful design without being overly ostentatious.
The Lincoln receives truly exceptional safety ratings. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awards the MKX with a 5-star overall safety rating, their highest. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers perfect crashworthiness ratings, including a perfect score for the available front crash prevention technology.
In addition, the IIHS designates the MKX a prestigious “Top Safety Pick.” Unfortunately, the advanced Driver Assistance Package that equips the pre-collision system is reserved only for the Reserve trim.
The Germans may have the brand cache to get away with upcharging shenanigans but Lincoln deserves no such luxury. For example, the 2018 Acura MDX comes standard with AcuraWatch safety suite that includes these technologies for just $44,200, less than the Reserve trim before adding the package.
That SUV, likewise, receives excellent safety and reliability ratings and packs more performance punch than the MKX. The MKX will protect you and your loved ones but we’d like to see more SUVs offering these features standard, or at least making them available in all trims.
JD Power assigns a 3.5 out of 5 reliability rating for the MKX, an above average rating. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports prescribe a predicted reliability rating of just 2 out of 5. It’s probably a result of a false start on Lincoln’s part.
If the MKX is driven hard, the transmission would fail. It even happened to two models sent to Car and Driver in their 2015 test of the 2016 model, which they documented even as MKX models were being delivered to dealers. I
t’s no surprise that there are 43 complaints filed for the 2016 model with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most of them describe a total loss of power while driving on the highway followed by a service transmission message.
Most report the problem was fixed after dealer servicing, but a handful complains of multiple failures. There have been no complaints filed for this issue in the 2017 and 2018 models at the time of this writing.
In fact, there are no complaints filed for the 2018 and just 3 for the 2017. One is an alleged failure of the tow mode while the vehicle was being towed behind the owner’s RV, causing the wheels to lock up and extensive damage to the SUV as a result. The other two are for a “rotten eggs” smell in the cabin.
A Technical Service Bulletin for this issue has been filed with the NHTSA by Lincoln. They acknowledge this problem exists in some MKX models when using auto or circulation mode, usually after hard acceleration or driving in strenuous conditions.
They claim the problem is related to “individual’s driving habits and sensitivities.” We’d recommend test driving the MKX hard to see if this odor is something that bothers you. Other than these two issues, there’s few complaints or other known problems with this SUV.
Considering there’s over 52,000 2016 and 2017 MKX crossovers on the road, less than 50 complaints doesn’t necessarily correlate to poor reliability. Even the most reputable brands have similar failure rates and complaint ratios.
We wouldn’t write off the MKX but we would drive it hard when testing it to ensure the transmission has been updated and conjure those phantom fumes.
You can expect above average reliability when compared with other luxury SUVs and the added benefit of cheaper parts since this SUV uses domestic parts.
The Lincoln faces stiff competition at its relatively high price. We’ve already explained why the Ford Edge is a better buy but if you’re truly looking for luxury panache, there are plenty of alternatives.
JD Power studies show that Lincoln shoppers are unlikely to cross shop the foreign competition, regardless of how much value they offer. This has to do with a demographic who wants to buy an American made SUV. Nevermind the fact that the MKX isn’t American made. Ironically, it’s actually manufactured in Canada.
This leaves the other American luxury offering, the Cadillac XT5, as the most worthy competitor. They’re priced comparably at most trim levels up until the Platinum trimmed XT5, which runs over 60,000. A heavily optioned “Black Label” MKX can reach into that territory as well.
Both SUVs receive the same JD Power reliability rating, as well as Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “Top Safety Pick” status. Both SUVs are roughly the same dimensions with nearly the same interior space and cargo capacity.
The XT5’s 310 horsepower delivers performance between the two engine options in the MKX. The 8-speed automatic isn’t as refined as Lincoln’s six-speed, it struggles hard to find the right gear and using the manual shift mode doesn’t improve things much.
The Cadillac’s strength is its plush interior and convenience features. It offers cutting technology like a 4G LTE wifi, standard across the trims. The Reserve and higher MKX have an embedded modem, but it doesn’t function as well as the OnStar 4G LTE.
When it comes to the curves, the two SUVs couldn’t be more different. The MKX handles deftly, while the XT5 tosses and turns despite its firm ride that would lead you to believe otherwise. If we had to choose between the two, we’d probably pick the Lincoln for its better ride and driving dynamics.
However, if we were spending this kind of coin, we’d probably choose neither and either save money by buying a fully loaded Ford Edge Sport or cop a plush 3.0T Audi Q7.
The Lincoln MKX Premiere trim starts at $38,260 with front wheel drive, hill start assist, 3.7 Liter V6 engine mated to 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle shifters. For suspension and handling this trim features torque vectoring control, curve control, electronic power assisted steering, AdvanceTrac with roll stability control, and auto-hold. Inside, there’s an auto-dimming rearview mirror, carpeted front and rear floor mats, dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors with sliding feature, Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature controls, intelligent access with push button start, manual tilt and telescopic steering column, overhead console with sunglasses holder, particulate air-filtration system, Remote Start System, solar tinted front side and windshield glass, rear privacy glass, brushed aluminum interior trim, push button shift, and Lincoln Experience. To entertain, a 10-speaker sound system with subwoofer is standard, along with a SYNC 3 infotainment system, SiriusXM satellite radio, two smart charging USB ports, Lincoln luxury soft touch seating surfaces, heated 10-way power front seats with power lumbar support and driver-side memory, 4-way manual adjustable front head restraints and a 60/40 split-folding second row bench with EasyFold seat back release. Outside, HID headlamps with LED dynamic signature lighting and autolamp feature are included, as are LED taillamps with LED reverse lamps, chrome door handle inserts and lower door inserts, dual exhaust chrome tips, Easy Fuel capless fuel filler, reverse sensing system, split-wing grille, turn signal indicators on exterior mirrors, integrated blind spot mirrors, and rear-window defroster with wiper. Safety features in this trim include a rear view camera, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, driver’s knee airbag, MyKey, personal safety system, safety canopy system, SOS post crash alert system, and glove box integrated knee airbag. To keep your vehicle secure, there’s a standard SecuriCode keyless entry keypad, SecuriLock Passive Anti-Theft System, perimeter alarm, and child-safety rear door locks. Adding the 2.7 Liter Twin-Turbocharged GTDI V6 costs an additional $2,000. All Wheel Drive is available for $2,495. A Dual-Headrest DVD by INVISION costa $1,995.
The $41,550 MKX Select trim installs premium painted aluminum 18 inch wheels, ambient lighting, power tilt and telescopic steering column with memory feature, High Gloss Walnut Swirl wood trim or Open Pore Ash Swirl wood trim, universal garage door opener, Bridge of Weir Deepsoft leather-trimmed seats, LED daytime running lamps, hands-free power liftgate, and power-folding exterior mirrors. An All Wheel Drive drivetrain can be purchased for $2,495, while the 2.7 Liter Twin-Turbocharged GTDI V6 is $2,000 extra. Automatic rain sensing wipers are available for $660. The Blind Spot Information System is a $1,100 option. The Panoramic Vista Roof can be equipped for $1,895. Satin roof rack side rails run $195. The $620 Climate Package installs heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, automatic rain sensing wipers, auto high-beam headlamps, and windshield wiper de-icer, so don’t buy the wipers for $660! The Dual-Headrest DVD by INVISION entertains for $1,995. Inflatable rear seat belts are $250. The Revel premium audio system with 13 speakers and HD radio is available for $1,155.
The MKX Reserve trim adds 20 inch premium painted and bright machined aluminum 20-spoke wheels, blind spot information system with cross traffic alert, Panoramic Vista Roof, Embedded Modem, Navigation with SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Travel Link, heated and cooled front seats, Adaptive HID headlamps, and availability of forward collision prevention technology for $45,550. The All Wheel Drive drivetrain costs $2,495, while the 2.7 Liter Twin-Turbocharged GTDI V6 can be installed for $2,000 extra. The $2,250 Driver Assistance Package includes Lane Keeping System with Lane-Keeping Alert, adaptive cruise control, adaptive steering, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, brake support, and active braking. The Luxury Package equips adaptive LED headlamps and a Revel Ultima System with 19 speakers and HD radio for $4,400. The Dual-Headrest DVD by INVISION entertains for $1,995.
If you’re going to load up the Reserve Trim, you might as well go for the MKX Black Label, which costs $53,475. That’s the same price as a Reserve trim with the Driver Assistance Package and Luxury Package. The Black Label receives exclusive materials like Alcantara sueded fabric accents and pattern perforated Venetian leather-trimmed seatings. There’s three themes with different corresponding tones: Thoroughbred, Indulgence, and Modern Heritage. There’s exclusive wood as well: Piano Black, Ziricote, and Chilean Maple. There are unique black label badging on many interior accents. You get some member privileges: a personal concierge, complimentary anytime car washes and annual detailing, extended premium maintenance, pickup and delivery for maintenance service, and access to a curated list of restaurants.