2014 Lincoln MKX Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 18, 2014

The 2014 Lincoln MKX outdoes the Lexus RX in most respects; although MyLincoln Touch is at times a difficult companion.

The 2014 Lincoln MKX is one of the brand's most popular premium vehicles. The MKX's versatility and space make it a good choice in the premium-crossover niche, with its luxury features and its high seating position.

A rival for the likes of the Lexus RX and Audi Q5, the MKX is mostly unchanged for the 2014 model year, in advance of an all-new model coming in 2015.

Aesthetically, the MKX evades Lincoln's tacky, plastichrome past, thankfully. The profile of the MKX isn't particularly eye-catchiing, but its details are. When it was last redesigned, for 2011, it received new sheetmetal (and powertrains), as well as a world-class new interior that put MyLincoln Touch at the center of it all and ramped up the ambiance to that of a true First Class cabin. Even several years later, it remains a handsome crossover with a grille that's maybe a little too emphatic, and a well-tailored cabin countering that with a conservative look and feel. We especially like how the cockpit's done, with a neatly integrated LCD touch screen and high-grade wood, leather, and metallic trim. For 2014, new polished aluminum 20- and 22-inch wheels also help freshen the look.

The 2014 MKX has some impressive gear under the hood: a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6—yes, that's the same engine as in the Mustang—and a six-speed automatic transmission. It's quieter here, for sure, but it allows an estimated 0 to 60 mph time of 8.0 seconds, which makes it one of the quicker vehicles in this class (especially for one that weighs more than 4,000 pounds). You won't find much feedback from the electric power steering system, but it's hefty and relatively quick. It handles as if it were a class lighter, though; the MKX digs into its share of country roads with gusto. The all-wheel drive system here definitely saps some of that verve—and you'll pay the price in miles per gallon—so we'd recommend passing on it unless you often take on snow or mud.

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The MKX stands a distant third—after the Navigator and the MKT—in terms of size and space for the Lincoln lineup, but it should still be plenty large for most American families. It's designed to tote five adults in comfort, and it hits that mark well. Its front seats have good support, and finding a good driving position is easy. Seat heaters are included up front and available in back; and you'll even find enough width to fit three adults across in the back seat on occasion. As for cargo space, the MKX is a little lacking (and the cargo floor is a bit high), but there's enough useful storage in the console, door panels and glove box.

For safety, the 2014 MKX stands as one of the safer vehicles in this class, yet definitely not the pick for those who must choose the safest. It's a four-stars overall performer according to the federal government; and the insurance-funded IIHS calls it out as a Top Safety Pick. Standard equipment includes stability control, curtain airbags, plus blind-spot monitors, and a rearview camera. Otherwise, adaptive cruise control and collision warning are offered together in an option package.

The star of the MKX cabin remains MyLincoln Touch, an infotainment and connectivity system that's incorporates a touch screen and customizable gauge cluster, allowing everything from hands-free calling to climate controls and entertainment selections. It's now simpler, easier to use, and less trouble-prone than it was a couple of years ago—thanks mainly to a major firmware upgrade given to the system last year. The pair of capacitive swipe-touch bars remain an issue for some fingers, it seems; and others might be either delighted or distraught to find that 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 steering-wheel and voice controls.

A Limited Edition Package is new to the lineup this year, adding leather seats; leather trim for the center console, instrument panel, and steering wheel; contrasting red stitching, and dark tuxedo stripe and piping.

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2014 Lincoln MKX

Styling

The Lincoln MKX is suave and smooth, although its big winged grille is a potentially polarizing detail.

The 2014 Lincoln MKX grabs your attention with a brash front-end design, then settles in for smooth, relatively restrained styling in most other respects.

The controversial grille marked the last generation of Lincolns, and it's since been slimmed down a bit for more recent models like the MKZ. Everything else about the MKX is perfectly in balance, even a little sedate, from its perfectly reasonable roofline to its matter-of-fact taillamps.

Even several years later, it remains a handsome crossover with a grille that's maybe a little too emphatic, and a well-tailored cabin countering that with a conservative look and feel. We especially like how the cockpit's done, with a neatly integrated LCD touch screen and high-grade wood, leather, and metallic trim. For 2014, new polished aluminum 20- and 22-inch wheels also help freshen the look.

When the MKX was last redesigned, for 2011, the even more noteworthy news was a world-class interior that put MyLincoln Touch at the center of it all and ramped up the ambiance to that of a true First Class cabin. Like the cockpit in the MKT, the MKX's dash gives off the overachieving air that VW and Audi have been inching away from, cabin by cabin. White lighting glows to accent the digital gauge panel and the big LCD screen in the middle of the stack—but it's all softened beautifully with gradual curves that sweep up and out from the center console. As with every recent interior from Ford, the feel and fit of interior materials has been ratcheted up several levels, with choices of metallic trim, light or dark woods.

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2014 Lincoln MKX

Performance

The 2014 MKX isn't sporty, but it handles well for such a big crossover wagon and is plenty quick even with a full load.

The 2014 MKX has some impressive gear under the hood: a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6—yes, that's the same engine as in the Mustang—and a six-speed automatic transmission, allowing 0-60 mph times in around eight seconds. 

It's closely related to the Ford Edge, although it's especially quiet here, with acoustic glass and thicker sound insulation. However the MKX is no conservative, floaty Lincoln of the past. The steering is hefty and relatively quick, and overall the MKX handles as if it were a class lighter. This is a vehicle that digs into its share of country roads with gusto.

As for the transmission, there's also a sport mode, and a sport-shift button on the lever, as well as paddle shift controls for a modicum of shift-it-yourself control.

The all-wheel drive system here definitely saps some of that verve—and you'll pay the price in miles per gallon—so we'd recommend passing on it unless you often take on snow or mud.

One note: In general we like the ride and handling compromise in the base 18-inch wheels; step up to the 20-inch (and especially the 22-inch) wheels and you'll notice a harsher ride.
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2014 Lincoln MKX

Comfort & Quality

Comfort is better than some luxury crossovers, with great seats; and the MKX wows with great fit, finish, and materials.

The 2014 Lincoln MKX is a high-comfort zone for four adults, with a smooth quiet ride in most versions and enough room for weekend roll-aboards.

It's designed to do even more, toting five adults in comfort, and it hits that mark. The front bucket seats heat and ventilate themselves to relieve any passing climate changes, and have memory positions so that two drivers don't have to tussle back and forth over setting ideal driving positions--including the MKX's mirrors and power tilt/telescoping steering wheel.

The back seat gives up little to the fronts, save for the view. The seatbacks recline a few degrees for exceptional comfort. Unlike some less expensive crossovers, like the GMC Terrain, the MKX's second-row bench doesn't slide on a track, though. That feature might help make its smallish cargo area more useful, but it's only a cubic foot or two less sizable than some of its competition. Seat heaters are included up front and available in back; and you'll even find enough width to fit three adults across in the back seat on occasion.

Once the seats are folded, we can't think of anything to kvetch about--except maybe that the seats don't fold completely flat. And separately, the MKX's power tailgate is slow to open and close, and it makes a fair amount of noise.

We like the MKX's swanky interior, and how there's enough useful storage in the console, door panels and glove box.

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2014 Lincoln MKX

Safety

The MKX is a Top Safety Pick, although it doesn't do quite as well in federal scores.

The 2014 Lincoln MKX offers a strong set of safety features; but the crash-test ratings that are available cloud the picture somewhat.

In addition to the usual array of airbags and stability controls, the MKX includes trailer-sway control and hill start assist, as well as optional adaptive cruise control, frontal-collision warning, and blind-spot monitors. A rearview camera is standard, but the MKX already does well for itself in outward visibility compared to most other models in this class. The driving position is quite high and allows for a clear view of the road ahead, and the rear pillars don't obscure things too much.

Crash tests, however, are the final word in many cases, suggesting how well a vehicle will protect you in an accident. And for that, the MKX is a mixed bag. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) calls it a Top Safety Pick, although it hasn't yet been tested in the most stringent small overlap frontal test. And otherwise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it four stars overall--mainly due to a worrisome three-star score for frontal impact.

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2014 Lincoln MKX

Features

You won't find much missing here, no matter what you're trading in; although MyLincoln Touch remains a mixed bag.

The 2014 Lincoln MKX is a true luxury vehicle, and its features set represents that. Even at the entry price, you'll get a full roster of features and top-notch materials and trims, with only a few options on offer.

The star of the MKX cabin remains MyLincoln Touch, an infotainment and connectivity system that's incorporates a touch screen and customizable gauge cluster, allowing everything from hands-free calling to climate controls and entertainment selections. It's now simpler, easier to use, and less trouble-prone than it was a couple of years ago—thanks mainly to a major firmware upgrade given to the system last year. The pair of capacitive swipe-touch bars remain an issue for some fingers, it seems; and others might be either delighted or distraught to find that 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 steering-wheel and voice controls.

Above and beyond the MyLincoln Touch command center, the MKX also sports a media hub with two USB ports, a set of composite jacks and an SD card slot. Instead of fitting a CD changer, Ford thinks this module will let it stay ahead of in-car electronics and user needs. Unfortunately, in this case, the media hub is slotted behind the shifter and it's hard to plug in your USB cable. There's also a plastic lip that makes putting anything flat—like an SD card—in that bin a very difficult exercise in extraction.

Otherwise, adaptive cruise control and collision warning are offered together in an option package, and the only other options include a rear DVD entertainment system and a navigation system with upgraded THX II audio.

A Limited Edition Package is new to the lineup this year, adding leather seats; leather trim for the center console, instrument panel, and steering wheel; contrasting red stitching, and dark tuxedo stripe and piping.

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2014 Lincoln MKX

Fuel Economy

Mileage of the 2014 Lincoln MKX is quite good, provided you go with front-wheel drive; there's no hybrid in the lineup, though.

The 2014 Lincoln MKX posts respectable numbers in the EPA's fuel economy ratings--if you accept that it's not offered in a more fuel-efficient hybrid or clean-diesel model like some of its rivals.

Front-drive MKX models land at 19/26 mpg, while all-wheel-drive models drop several mpg, to 17/23. Because of that, we'd strongly recommend the front-wheel-drive mode, unless you regularly encounter deep snow or mud. 

To get this sort of mileage out of a rather large, powerful V-6, Ford has the engine's fuel injectors shut off completely during deceleration; the variable valve-timing system also helps.

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Styling 8.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
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