2007 Lincoln MKX Review

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Eric Peters Eric Peters Editor
November 10, 2006
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2007 Ford Edge by Bengt Halvorson (10/30/2006)
Ford builds a bridge between the Country Squire and Mustang.

 

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   Unique, handsome styling; smooth-sounding engine.

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  Tranny lacks manumatic control; no third-row option. 

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   Lincoln badge adds little to the experience — for now.

 


You need utility, but a new upscale SUV seems stale, done, “so 1996.” So you’re probably shopping for a ritzy crossover vehicle then, something like a Lexus RX or a Nissan Murano — something front- or all-wheel-driven, something with nice luxury touches, something not too expensive.

 

Add Lincoln to the list, while you’re at it, because the new MKX takes on those crossovers with a dash of American style covering a well-conceived cabin, a strong powertrain, and good road manners. It’s in some ways identical to the new Ford Edge — mechanically similar, mostly — but in terms of style, it’s a cut above.

 

The mid-size MKX is Lincoln’s first crossover. It replaces the Ford Explorer-based Aviator, which never sold well and as TheCarConnection said, looked too much like the larger Lincoln Navigator. The MKX joins the also-new MKZ sedan and ’07 Navigator as an integral part of Lincoln’s three-pronged strategy to get back into the thick of the luxury-car catfight for customers — a fight it’s been sitting on the sidelines of for at least the past couple of years.

The MKX is a much more appealing vehicle than the gussied-up Explorer/Aviator ever was. It offers five-passenger seating, a standard 265-horsepower V-6 (among the most powerful in this price and class; it also runs on regular 87 octane unleaded), a six-speed automatic transmission and a dramatic, panorama-style Vista Roof. It comes in either front- or all-wheel drive, just like its target competitors from Lexus and Nissan.

2007 Lincoln MKX

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A sharper Edge cousin

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Crossovers are the kinder, gentler cousins of SUVs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or mustn’t perform in similar ways. Drivers still expect car-based crossovers to look smart, haul a truckload of family and friends, and to keep plowing through the snow instead of getting stuck in it. In fact the crossover’s mission is a little tougher: it has to do all of those while riding and steering like a car, and while sipping fuel, not guzzling it.

 

The MKX does all these things about as well, or even better, than the Lexus RX350 and other competitors like the Acura MDX. And it starts with its powertrain. The MKX’s standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine only gives away five horsepower to the RX350’s 3.5-liter V-6 (265 vs. 270), and pulls strongly with a sweet engine note. Too, the Lincoln’s got a six-speed transmission (the RX has a five-speed) coupled to its V-6. it doesn’t have the trendy manu-matic shift control, but shift action is smooth and composed. Together the pair should be good for 60-mph runs of about eight seconds.

 

In terms of handling, the MKX shares a lot with the Edge. Steering is crisp and assisted just with the right amount of power. Handling is set up just on this side of soft, with more comfort than Mazda’s smaller CX-7 and similar to that of the Honda Pilot.

 

Wooing with bling

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The MKX offers some unique features to woo buyers up from the Edge and the Pilot and into a pricier alternative. It has adaptive front headlights that turn with you as the vehicle turns, that huge panorama-style Vista Roof, heated and cooled front seats, available rear seat heaters, and an available 14-speaker 600 watt THX surround sound audio system with auxiliary iPod jack and MP3 capability.

 

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I was able to try out the optional adaptive lighting system in some tunnels on the

Blue Ridge Parkway
in North Carolina; as advertised, the lights bend with you in a curve, aiding peripheral vision and (says Lincoln) providing up to 36 feet of additional illumination compared with fixed-beam headlights. In rural “deer country” (which includes most of suburbia these days), that extra margin of visibility could mean the difference between a smashed-up front end and a close call. Definitely worth it.  

Another set of useful MKX features are the folding and pivoting second-row seats, which also recline up to 15 degrees. The fold/pivot function can be triggered automatically from a remote EasyFold switch in the cargo area. With the second row folded away, the MKX has 68.7 cubic feet of space — enough to take a nap back there, if you wanted to do that. With the second row in place, cargo capacity is still 32.6 cubic feet, sufficient room for a 75-pound black Lab and some bags of stuff.  

There’s also a door-mounted keypad entry system — something you won’t find on competitor models and a great thing to have if you’re like me and have a habit of locking yourself out of the car.

Hail MKX, full of grace


2007 Lincoln MKX

2007 Lincoln MKX

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The MKX is one of the most gracefully styled Lincolns in a decade. It’s tastefully rendered, with a genuinely attractive exterior shape set off by Lincoln’s waterfall grille up front and a wrap-around taillight panel on the back, with high-visibility LED lighting trimmed in brushed satin. The standard 18-inch rims and dual exhaust cutouts add a sporty (but not hyper-macho) flavor. The overall impression of the MKX is “softer” than the crisply cut lines of the Acura MDX, and smoother and more mellow-looking than the Lexus RX350. Lincoln says the goal was low-key elegance — expensive and sophisticated in appearance, but not garish or flashy. It’s fair to say that goal was met.

Like the MKZ sedan, the MKX’s interior has an interesting dual-binnacle layout inspired by the Lincolns of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Square shapes dominate it, instead of the typical elliptical shapes common in other models. As with the exterior, the inside of the MKX is designed, according to Lincoln , to convey relaxed elegance and this it does quite nicely. Indirect “cool white” puddle lighting and honey-colored wood/brushed nickel and metal trim drive home the theme.

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Visibility all around is excellent and the seats did me no injury during a 5-6 hour drive from somewhere in the wilderness of Tennessee to Asheville, North Carolina. In backseat stints, the optional Vista Roof is especially striking. It covers almost the entire length of the MKX’s roof, with a fixed 15.75 x 31.3-inch rear section and a tilt/sliding 27.3x29.4-inch forward sunroof up front. It comes with dual power sunshades, too.

Thankfully, the cockpit leaves behind the eye-watering, overly complex controls of some true luxury brands. There aren’t any digital readouts or mouse inputs to hassle with; if you want to adjust the climate control’s temperature settings or change a CD, just tap the appropriate (and readily identifiable) button or switch. Even the GPS is of the nifty touch-screen variety.

 

There is still plenty of “technology” where it matters, including standard AdvanceTrac traction control and Roll Stability Control system with side curtain airbags for both rows of seating.

A big deal


A few details keep the MKX from complete assuredness. It lacks a third-row seat. There’s no sport-shift function for the six-speed automatic, which isn’t as playful as the transmissions found in some competitors. But most of all is the shaky prestige of the Lincoln brand right now. GM spent billions reviving Cadillac. Ford hasn’t yet done the same for Lincoln, so if the engineering of the badge on the nose is important to you, you may need to look elsewhere.

 

But before you do, consider that the MKX is considerably less pricey than its major rivals. The standard front-drive model MKX starts at $34,120, with the AWD version going for $35,770. A front-drive Lexus RX350 doesn’t go for much less than $37,400. In a way, Lincoln now finds itself in the position that Lexus found itself in the early 1990s — lacking prestige but with an increasingly interesting lineup of upscale vehicles.


Maybe it’s time to get into an MKX while it’s still a deal?

2007 Lincoln MKX
Base price:
$34,120; price as tested, $39,660
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Engine: 3.5-liter V-6, 265 hp/249 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front- or all-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 186.5 x 75.8 x 67.5 in
Wheelbase: 111.2 in
Curb weight: 4420 lb
Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): N/A
Safety equipment: Dual front, side and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction, and stability control

Major standard features: Leather seats and wood trim; reclining rear seats; dual-zone climate control; six-speaker AM/FM stereo with CD player
Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles

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