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Mostly unchanged for the 2013 model year, the Lincoln MKX charges ahead with a solid mix of luxury fittings and performance that lift its game above the closely related five-seat Ford Edge. The major update for this model year, in fact, is in firmware--a big revision of the MyLincoln Touch system that streamlines its screens, making it simpler and quicker to use.
In 2011, the MKX was redesigned, gaining new sheetmetal and new powertrains, as well as a world-class new interior that put MyLincoln Touch at the center of all its infotainment functions. It looks much the same this year--still a handsome crossover with an emphatically styled grille, one that either inspires shoppers to inquire within, or turns them off to the rest of the MKX's conservative lines or to its very well-tailored cabin. The cockpit's especially well done, with a neat integration of a big LCD touchscreen and a very high grade of materials--wood, leather, and metallic trim--that creates a business-class feel and evades the cliches that litter Lincoln's past.Today's MKX sports a Mustang-worthy powertrain in its 3.7-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic. The same team's found in the base 'Stang, and here it makes 305 horsepower, more quietly, thanks to more careful tuning and thicker glass. The combination rates a gentleman's B for its estimated 0 to 60 mph time of 8.0 seconds, and a top speed in the 125-mph range. The electric power steering system has good heft and quickness, if the usual lack of feedback. For its size, more than 4000 pounds, the MKX digs into its share of country roads with gusto. All-wheel drive is an option on the already chunky crossover, so we'd give it a pass unless you spend more than half the year in mucky driving conditions.
With the Navigator still hanging around, the MKX doesn't have to supersize itself to flesh out the Lincoln lineup. It's designed to tote five adults in comfort, and it hits that mark well. Its front seats have good support and with the tilt/telescoping steering, make finding a good driving position easy. Heating, even ventilation, are offered up front, while the second-row seat can also be heated. It's suitable for grown-ups, even three across, and has good head room. The MKX is a bit shy on cargo space, compared to some five-passenger crossovers, but the console, door panels and glovebox offer useful additional storage.
Safety scores have moderated a bit, but the MKX is still one of the safest vehicles you can buy. The NHTSA gives it four stars overall; the IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick. Stability control and curtain airbags are standard, as are blind-spot monitors, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth.
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. The 2013 update regroups information in more discrete regions of the screen, making it easier to digest in a quick look away from the road. Is it an improvement over dozens of buttons? It's no worse than COMAND, MMI, iDrive, or Remote Touch, and keeps the center stack clean, for now. Whether it stays that way depends on Ford's commitment to teaching new customers its benefits, and weathering the downturn in quality scores brought on by the new system and its occasionally confounding complexity.
- Up front about its looks
- Business-class interior
- Abundant technology inside
- Very comfortable seats
- MyLincoln Touch has been simplified
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- That grille isn't for everyone
- Really? It's 305 hp, you say?
- Slow-moving power tailgate
- MyLincoln Touch still takes time to digest