2011 Lincoln MKX: Driven

December 16, 2010
Crossover vehicles are so often touted as catch-all solutions for busy families that you can lapse into blind assumptions when shopping. As we learned recently, when we took on a new 2011 Lincoln MKX for a weeklong test, not every crossover fits every family task, and they can be packaged quite differently.

Ultimately, the 2011Lincoln MKX is probably better-quited to lolling in wine country or a couples' evening out than a ski trip. I feel a little silly now, but the latter seemed at first like the perfect venue to test the all-wheel-drive Lincoln MKX and really put it through the paces. The MKX looked right-sized for four adults, and we thought we'd be able to slide the skis, as we've done in a BMW X5, into a socked ski pass-through.

Cargo compromises

But when we got the MKX and went to check out that pass-through, we found that there's no such thing, and it's not even available as an option on the MKX. That left us with no better choice (with the lack of a roof rack) than to slot the skis in diagonally across the cargo compartment, wedged slightly beside the front passenger seat. With the delicate-looking leather extending around the side of the seats, we had to improvise a bit, covering the ends of the skis with spare socks.

That already ruled out carrying four adults, but had we even been able to put the skis up on the roof, it would have been very tight. Because the cargo floor is quite high, there's less cargo space on tap than you might suspect from the outside; the spec sheet says there's 32.3 cubic feet behind the back seats, but you'd have to heap things high, interfering with visibility, to get that much. You can more than double that space by folding down the back seat (not quite flat).

As we've reported in our First Drive and Full Review assessments, all the improvements to the 2011 MKX feel like more than a mid-cycle refresh altogether. We love the new twin-grille look and bolder front end, while the plush interior, well-coordinated materials and mood lighting, and excellent look and feel overall make the MKX cabin feel all-new on the inside. And that's before you even start driving.

Strong, refined powertrain, but AWD lacks finesse

Behind the wheel, there's nothing about the MKX that feels low-rent, either. It's a little hard to believe that this is essentially the same 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 that's now used in the Mustang; here it's notably more muted, and the combination of the MKX's added weight plus any powertrain tuning makes it feel smooth, refined, and confident, but not outright powerful. The MKX's steering is much-improved, too; it feels nice and settled on center, and loads and unloads neatly.

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