The 2011 Lincoln MKX cabin chucks whatever was left of lower-rent shapes and materials in the Ford empire. 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. Subtracting the buttons from the center stack gave designers the space to lay out winged themes that should have been this well-executed in the Cadillac CTS lineup, which reaches for the same effect and falls shy. And like 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. 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.
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 and none of the beavertooth syndrome that afflicts, say, the Acura MDX or the old VW Touareg. It's the only outre touch on the otherwise smoothed-out shape, since the creased wheelhouses and LED taillamps are all but standard across the flanks of Germany's crossovers—and since the glass outlines are essentially carried over from the first-gen MKX.