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The 2007 Lincoln MKX brings in all the luxury qualities we would expect from this make, but despite the fact that it's a crossover, the MKX won't edge Lincoln into any kind of youth demographic. The MKX has stately lines and a big chrome grille with the Lincoln badge front and center. Although it shares a platform with the Ford Edge, the two cars are very distinct, even down to how they drive.
Our test car in particular, with an exterior color called White Chocolate and a beige interior marked by blond wood accents, would appeal only to the most straight-laced youth. The MKX has overpowered steering, making the wheel very easy to turn, but the suspension isn't too soft. Its V-6 and six-speed automatic deliver smooth, although not overwhelming, acceleration.
Like its segment, the MKX's cabin tech is thoroughly modern, with Ford's standard navigation system. Better yet, the MKX gets its own version of the THX certified stereo system that so wowed us in the Lincoln MKZ. The only thing it lacks is a hands-free cell phone system, but Ford's adoption of the Microsoft-developed Sync system will change that in the coming year.
Test the tech: Seattle tour
Nothing tests the tech in a car like trying to navigate around unfamiliar terrain, so we used the Lincoln MKX for a trip to Seattle. We picked up the car at the SeaTac airport and loaded the address for the place we would be staying into the navigation system, an easy task given the touch-screen interface. As we set out, the navigation system began issuing its orders, and we were delighted to hear it pronouncing the names of streets. Text-to-speech functionality is an advanced feature in nav systems, and it can be very amusing with street names that are difficult to pronounce.
At one point, traveling under the shadow of the elevated Highway 99, the navigation system became confused as to which road we were on, and for a significant amount of time the map showed us on a parallel road about 1,000 feet away. But we were going in what seemed like the right direction so we didn't let it bother us, and after awhile the GPS recalibrated and showed our true location. Our relaxed mood under these circumstances might also have been because of the excellent sound of the music playing through the THX stereo off of our MP3 CD.
We get a shot of the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound from the MKX.
We knew we were in the heart of Seattle as we passed the ferry docks and got in sight of the Space Needle. The car proved capable dealing with Seattle traffic and hills, although we initially allowed a lot of space around it, as it seemed bigger than it is. The final leg of our journey took us through ridiculously narrow residential streets, narrowed down to one lane by the cars parked at the curbs on either side. The MKX presented an imposing presence to people driving in the opposite direction, who usually pulled into an empty space to let us pass.
The MKX got us to our destination without incident, and in quite a bit of comfort. Over the next few days we drove all around Seattle, sometimes using route guidance and sometimes navigating by the map display. On one run we picked up a friend at the airport, and our local guide noticed the odd directions the navigation system gave us. We got into the settings menu and saw that route guidance was avoiding freeways, which turned out to be a boon that evening as there was serious traffic on Interstate 5. As it was a muggy couple of days in Seattle, we appreciated the seat-cooling fans in the MKX, and our passengers also enjoyed the view out of the huge sunroof, complemented by a smaller moonroof over the backseat. There was also more than enough room for luggage in the cargo area, and no one complained about lack of legroom in the backseat.
In the cabin
The MKX uses the same navigation system we've seen in other cars under Ford's umbrella. It's a very usable interface with a touch screen and buttons along the sides of the LCD to choose system functions, but we would like to see Ford make it look a little more elegant for Lincoln cars. The MKX shouldn't use the same interface theme as an Escape.
We like the route guidance graphics and the way the nav system reads out the names of streets.
We particularly like the route guidance in the MKX, as it not only shows easy-to-read graphics of upcoming turns, but it also reads out street names, as we noted above. We didn't have any problems using it to get through unfamiliar streets to our destination. The maps aren't the best resolution, but they aren't bad. The points-of-interest database covers the basics, without offering individual retail establishments.
But the real stand-out element of the cabin tech is the THX-certified audio system. This system uses 14 speakers putting out 600 watts from 12 digital amplifier channels. The system includes a subwoofer and speakers on the D pillars and in the doors, plus a set in the middle of the dashboard made up of a tweeter and two mids. This system uses a distinct configuration from that used in the Lincoln MKZ, showing that THX tailored the system for the MKX.
Seeing this logo come up when we started the car let us know we were in for an amazing audio experience.
The audio quality is phenomenal, even given the large cabin space of this car. Clarity and separation are superb, and there are no aberrations such as rattle or hum. We played a variety of musical styles, from punk at loud volumes to electronic on low. The system didn't disappoint, making every note come through clearly, even with the volume way down. However, the system wouldn't deliver pounding bass, going for refinement over brute force, unlike the Rockford Fosgate system in the Mitsubishi Outlander.
For audio sources, we had a six-disc in-dash changer that could play MP3 CDs, Sirius satellite radio, and an auxiliary audio input. The CD interface was capable of showing track information, but it's a little too crowded with its oversize buttons. If the buttons were slimmed down a little, the display could show more information. We had no problem finding the satellite radio stations we wanted, and we like how, even with the map screen up, music source information is still displayed in a ribbon at the top of the LCD.
The major cabin tech item we were missing in the MKX was cell phone integration.
Under the hood
The Lincoln MKX is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 using double overhead cams, producing 265 horsepower at 6,250rpm and 250 ft-lbs of torque at 4,500rpm. This engine proved more than adequate to get the MKX moving fast onto a freeway or charging up hills. But the six-speed automatic it is mated to wasn't as bright, needing a second to think before downshifting when we wanted power. As with many modern six-speeds, this transmission is set to shift early, saving gas with lower RPMs. The transmission also doesn't have a manual shift mode.
The transmission could be a little sluggish on downshifting.
For fuel economy, the EPA rates the 2007 Lincoln MKX with all-wheel drive at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, not particularly good numbers. In our time with the car, we saw an average of 19.1 mpg, smack in the middle of the EPA range. Emissions ratings haven't been published as of the time of this review.
The MKX doesn't lend itself to a particularly exciting driving experience. It's a somewhat bulky car and works well as a cruiser. Our test car came with all-wheel drive, and we noticed only moderate body roll while cornering. The suspension is well-tuned to tamp out bumps without being too soft.
Our test car came with adaptive headlights, and we were pleased with how well they worked on dark residential streets. As we turned the wheel, we could see the focus of the light move with it. On corners with oncoming cars, this meant we weren't blinding anyone.
An optional park distance system beeped at us when we put the car into reverse, but it can only detect objects behind the car. There is no option for a rear-view camera.
The 2007 Lincoln MKX with all-wheel drive starts with a base price of $35,770. The paint on our test car cost an additional $495, and we also had the Elite package ($4,795), which included navigation, the THX audio system, and a very large sunroof. We also had the Ultimate package ($1,995), a trailer package ($295), heated rear seats ($295), and some cargo netting ($65). Along with the $675 destination charge, the total for our test car came out to $44,385.
The new crossover segment is filled with competitors, and many at this price level have three rows of seating. The Lincoln MKX has solid construction, a useful nav system, and a stellar stereo going for it. Given the nature of the car, it seems best suited for people who cruise around, occasionally take longer trips, and really appreciate music. For a more engaging driving experience, the Acura RDX can be had with more technology and an excellent stereo system for a little less money. Or, for more passenger space, consider the Mazda CX-9.