Ever since its introduction in 2006, the Lincoln MKX hasn’t fully delivered on its potential. Based on the Ford Edge, the MKX offered a very generous feature list, but its appearance was deemed too conservative by some (especially the egg-crate grille) and its interior materials—as we pointed out in our Bottom Line of the 2009 Lincoln MKX—left something to be desired in a luxury vehicle. Meanwhile, its performance is good, but hardly exhilarating, and its fuel efficiency could be better.
All that appears to have been fixed for 2011, with this thorough mid-cycle refresh of the Lincoln MKX introduced at the Detroit auto show. The changes include a touched-up exterior, all-new instrument panel, greatly upgraded materials, and standout new interior tech features.
From the front alone, the 2011 Lincoln MKX now looks like a completely different vehicle, as it gets the more distinctive, “split wing” grille plus a completely new front fascia, effectively carrying the more swept-back look of the newer Lincoln MKS. Newly available HID headlamps and LED taillamps, plus the newly contoured fenders and hood, give it crisper details, and otherwise in back new four-inch-oval exhaust tips help give it a more aggressive look. New 18- and 20-inch wheel designs give the whole vehicle a little more ‘pop,’ even though the distinctive profile and roofline, along with the doorlines, of the MKX remain unchanged in the 2011 version.
Inside, most of what matters has been refreshed, with everything else has been refreshed, with new contours for the instrument panels and all-new materials, trims, gauges, and displays. The interior is finished off in ‘signature’ Lincoln white lighting. New climate-controlled leather seats have been redone with new contouring and stitching, and the steering wheel is wrapped and stitched with soft surfaces almost everywhere, including the center-console rails and console lids. Optional packages on the 2011 MKX add tuxedo stripes, black piping, or Shantung aluminum appliqués, while Olive Ash and Walnut Swirl are also offered. With acoustic glass and a sound-deadening headliner, plus more sound insulation, the interior also promises to be quieter.
A significant powertrain enhancement is also part of the rehab; the 2011 Lincoln MKX gets Ford’s new 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter Duramax V-6, which has also been announced as the base engine in the 2011 Ford Mustang. It’s hooked up to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, which allows a full driver-selectable mode for sporty driving. Brakes have been upgraded, too. The V-6 includes Ford’s new Ti-VCT variable valve timing technology along with fuel-saving strategies including aggressive fuel shut-off and smart charging, which engages the alternator during optimal times. Ford promises 25 mpg on the highway—a significant improvement, despite the additional power—and the MKX will remain offered with either front- or all-wheel drive.
The centerpiece of the interior will be a new touch-sensitive instrument panel. More precisely, several of the center-stack controls have been replaces with touch-sensitive ones. For instance, fingertip touch sliders—incorporating ten small cells in a band—allow you to simply drag from left to right to raise or lower volume or adjust climate control. Three full swipes bring the volume from low to high.