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The 2011 Lincoln MKX, which is closely related to the 2011 Ford Edge, hasn't been completely redesigned, but almost. Flaunting new sheetmetal, new powertrains, new interiors with better-quality materials, and a new suite of technology branded under the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch umbrella, the new MKX finally appeals to top rivals from European and Japanese luxury brands, as well as Cadillac, with world-class features and interior appointments.
Depending on how you see it, the new, more distinctive Lincoln look is either an eyesore or a breathtaking departure. The twin-wing grille is for sure striking, but those grilles balance out the glass areas nearly perfectly, with good scale. The shape has been smoothed out, too. Inside, the 2011 Lincoln MKX cabin chucks whatever was left of lower-rent shapes and materials in the Ford empire. Subtracting the buttons from swoopy new instrument panel and center stack gave designers the space to lay out winged themes, and the feel and fit of interior materials has been ratcheted up several levels, with choices of metallic trim, light or dark woods. The MKX elevates the business-class aesthetic out of simple wood and leather cliches, and marries it with real haute technology—not an easy task.
The 2011 MKX is fitted with a new 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 that's shared with the 2011 Ford Mustang. Offered here with a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, there's ample performance to knock off a gentleman's B for straight-line performance—in the neighborhood of eight seconds to 60 mph, and a top speed in the 125-mph range. The engine's muted much better here than in the Mustang, of course, thanks to layers of laminated glass and acoustic damping, and it's probably everything a luxury-crossover buyer not seeking Cayenne Turbo-style thrust will want. The MKX now has electric power steering and steers fairly well, and doesn't wander much at all on decent-to-awful turnpike pavement textures. It also grabs its share of country roads with gusto—up to the point any 4000-pound crossover feels unhappy about exactly what you're doing back there.
The cabin of the 2011 Lincoln MKX hasn't been supersized, it sticks more closely to its job detail of being able to carry five adults in comfort than last year's version. The front seats have memory functions and the best driving position is easy to ferret out, with the height of the seat and with standard power tilt/telescoping steering. The rear bench reclines a bit so the tallest colleagues won't get bent out of shape on a lunch run. Cargo space in back is a bit shy of some larger five-passenger crossovers, though the Lincoln's add-ons will dazzle anyone who starts asking impolite questions about overall cubic feet.
MyLincoln Touch is the star of the MKX cabin; it marries Ford's SYNC and its Bluetooth-controlled, voice-activated technology with a pair of LCD screens flanking the speedometer, a big LCD touchscreen in the middle of the dash, and a pair of swipe-touch bars. The dozens of buttons you'd find on another car's audio, navigation and climate controls are simply gone, replaced by the touch-sensitive functions on the screen and by dueling sets of steering-wheel-mounted buttons and those winged bars. It's a revolutionary feature, allowing a host of navigation and media functions, too, such as finding the closest Starbucks with your voice, or tagging you music and syncing with iTunes.