2013 Lincoln MKX Review

Consumer Reviews
3 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
April 24, 2012

The 2013 Lincoln MKX finally has luxury game with a knockout interior and Mustang-worthy power; MyLincoln Touch is better, too.

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.

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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.

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2013 Lincoln MKX

Styling

The Lincoln MKX has wings--a big grille that either draws you in, or turns you off, to its otherwise suave character.

Call it overstyled, or distinctive for once in its life--the 2013 Lincoln MKX has a front end that can't be mistaken for that of any other luxury crossover.

The controversial grille marked the last generation of Lincolns, and it's slimming down on newer vehicles like the upcoming 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedan. Somehow, on the MKZ, it works--it's in proportion to the crossover's tall glass areas and sheetmetal panels, even if it looks a bit hypertrophic when it's seen on the screen, out of context. It's not so cartoonishly out of scale, at least, like the grille on the big Lincoln MKT crossover, and everything else about the MKX is perfectly in balance, even a little sedate, from its perfectly reasonable roofline to its matter-of-fact taillamps.

In last year's redo, the MKX cabin chucked what was left of the inexpensive-looking materials and shapes that remained after the transition from Ford Edge took place. 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.

Finally, say what you want about MyLincoln Touch, but 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. That car reaches for the same visual impact and falls shy, thanks to a myriad of buttons and switches. 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. 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.

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8

2013 Lincoln MKX

Performance

It's not sporty, per se, but the Lincoln MKX handles well for a big crossover, and spins out Mustang-worthy horsepower.

New in 2007, the Lincoln MKX was thoroughly reworked for the 2011 model year, with a new drivetrain, a reinforced body structure, and a retuned suspension. It's been carried over through the 2013 model year, still not overtly sporty, but pleasant to drive, provided you resist the biggest of optional wheels, and treat it like the tall crossover that it is.

Unlike the similar Ford Edge, the 2013 Lincoln MKX offers just one powertrain--a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 paired with a six-speed automatic. It's responsive, and more than acceptable for straight-line acceleration, less so when it's shod with a few hundred extra pounds of all-wheel-drive weight. Lincoln's filtered out some of the noise the same engine makes when it's installed as the base powerplant in the Mustang, by fitting more acoustic damping and thicker glass. And somehow, the engine feels more willing to rev here than in the 'Stang. In the most demanding situations the MKX will face in its six-tenths lifestyle, it excels--it's genuinely quick at clipping off mid-range passes, and takes heed of a stomp on the gas with a quick downshift. We'd prefer if the six-speed automatic was a little less of a control freak. It keeps much of the shift action to itself, despite the presence of paddle shift controls--it keeps ultimate control of the gear you've chosen.

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There's also electronic power steering, which shows Ford's progress on the learning curve of delivering decent feel and feedback without the natural pressure of a hydraulic pump. The MKX steers fairly well, and doesn't wander much at all on decent-to-awful turnpike pavement textures. It also grabs its share of country roads with gusto—up to the point any 4000-pound crossover feels unhappy about exactly what you're doing back there. The front- or all-wheel-drive MKX understeers all day long when you try to provoke it, but on the obverse, it also has a touch better ride than before, though there's some impact harshness that you can avoid by steering clear of the blingy, optional 20-inch wheels.
8

2013 Lincoln MKX

Comfort & Quality

Adult-sized seats give the MKX a leg up on some luxury crossovers, and fit and finish are strong suits.

Four adults will find the cabin in the 2013 Lincoln MKX to be an easy-access, high-comfort zone, with plenty of room for their weekend roll-aboards and Costco booty.

We like the MKX's swanky interior, how it's less thrifty than the similarly sized one in the Ford Edge, but ultimately, both are focused on delivering adult-sized space. The MKX has great knee, head, and leg room in the front and in the second row, with little intrusion from any surface--door panels, center console, or the sunroof housing. 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 spots--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. We can't think of any owner that would kvetch about the cargo space available when the back seats are folded down, though it'd be better if the rear bench seat folded completely flat. There's no third-row seat in the MKX; the seven-seat duties are handed off to the larger MKT crossover.

We do have a few complaints about the interior. The doors are curved under the side sills, and it's easy to feel them flex if you push on them with a foot. The MKX's power tailgate is slow to open and close, and it makes a fair amount of noise.

Then there's MyLincoln Touch. We'll discuss it more in the Features section, but in terms of the MKX's quality and functionality, it's a sharp left turn into the future. The steering-wheel controls, LCD screens and voice controls mean that whole racks of buttons and switches have been removed from the center console, with just a pair of swipe bars for volume and fan controls. No matter how you feel about the ease of use, there's no doubt that MyLincoln Touch reduces the clutter on the dash, and tips the MKX off as a technology leader--one of the new ways customers look at quality, regardless of execution.

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2013 Lincoln MKX

Safety

The IIHS says it's a Top Safety Pick, but the NHTSA finds a flaw or two with the Lincoln MKX's crash-test scores.

Crossovers seem to imply safety, with their beef and bulk, but the latest round of crash tests from the federal government and the insurance industry have clouded the picture for the 2013 MKX.

With the usual array of airbags and stability controls, the 2013 MKX goes out of its way to stuff in all sorts of cutting-edge safety technology. The electronics include trailer-sway control and hill start assist, and on the options list, 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. The high driving position allows for a clear view of the road ahead, and the thick rear roof pillars don't obscure that view too badly.

The ultimate arbiter of safety is crash tests. According to the latest results, the MKX isn't quite as strong a performer as it once was. It remains a Top Safety Pick, according to standards set by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the 2013 MKX is now rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at four stars overall, with a three-star score for front impacts and five stars for side impacts, and a four-star rating for rollover resistance.

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2013 Lincoln MKX

Features

MyLincoln Touch is streamlined for the new model year, but it's still a complex setup with a steep learning curve.

Revamped completely in the 2011 model year, the 2013 Lincoln MKX is little changed other than a complete reworking of its MyLincoln Touch interface. The traditional luxury and even higher-tech luxury touches remain familiar and reassuring: from the panoramic sunroof, to leather upholstery, to HD radio, it hits the mark for what a modern, upscale vehicle should offer as standard equipment.

Ford went far afield for its MyLincoln Touch system, and it's been judged ahead of its time, visionary, and a little rushed in its execution--all fair assessments, we think. MyLincoln Touch (and its companion technology, MyFord Touch), unites controls for phone, navigation, entertainment, and climate systems under one controller that can be operated by LCD touchscreen, steering-wheel controls, or voice commands. Confusing on first pass, MyLincoln Touch's depth of control really lends itself to a deep-dive driving experience, like the eight-hour solo stint we were able to take immediately after our first drive in the 2011 MKX.

Since then, Ford has updated the systems with cleaner, simpler screen layouts, and we've experienced the new offerings in the 2013 Ford Escape. It's a worthwhile update--and still, we're sure any shopper will want to spend some time with MyLincoln Touch before they're sold on the complex voice-controlled system.

A few examples show the system's breathtaking reach and the potential for frustration. To set a destination, the driver can either press a steering-wheel button and speak the destination; MyLincoln Touch searches and returns results, which the driver chooses or discards if they're not relevant. Enjoying a song on the MKX's radio? A tap on the LCD touchscreen cues MyLincoln Touch to bookmark the track on a portable music player for downloading later, at a desktop. Want to change the height of the power-opening tailgate in cargo-loading mode? That's also driven by the screen, though it's also possible to cycle through those same screens with the steering-wheel buttons. Whew.

Ford says these updates will be available to all users, even those with older MKXs outfitted with the system, as a firmware download. On the balance, MyLincoln Touch has about the same amount of liberating simplicity and aggravating complexity of the systems you'll find in other luxury vehicles-- COMAND, iDrive, MMI, and Remote Touch among them.

Above and beyond the MyLincoln Touch command center, the 2013 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.

There's so much more technology bundled in, like THX II audio, MyKey and Intelligent Access, it's difficult to picture any luxury crossover leaping ahead of the 2013 MKX's state of the art tech features. Those features alone are enough to put the MKX on the radar for anyone thinking of Touaregs, FX50s or X5s. The 2013 MKX may not have diesel engines or true off-road capability, but it might just have the single feature every crossover driver really wants, if you asked them in a weak moment: a way to play music and talk while sitting in traffic, without getting in trouble with the law.

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6

2013 Lincoln MKX

Fuel Economy

Front-drive MKX crossovers get very good gas mileage for the class.

Crossover vehicles don't always do well in the EPA's gas mileage rankings, but the 2013 Lincoln MKX posts above-average numbers--at least, in front-drive form.

The EPA's official numbers for the latest model year put the front-drive 2013 MKX at 19/26 mpg. To get those strong numbers from a tall, heavy vehicle with a large-displacement V-6, Ford unleashes some engineering tricks on the powertrain. The engine's fuel injectors shut off completely during deceleration, trimming fuel consumption; the variable valve-timing system also tailors its fuel delivery to the amount of power requested.

Ford claims this delivers a significantly higher mileage rating than some of the MKX's competitors. However, the edge vanishes when all-wheel drive is specified. The EPA rates this version at 17/23 mpg--something worth noting if you don't regularly encounter winter weather.

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May 12, 2015
2013 Lincoln MKX AWD 4-Door

Love, Love my MKX

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My father always drove Lincolns. When I could finally afford one, I bought this car. It is just the right size. I like it because it seems to be higher up than many suv's. It drives smoothly. I have had it for... + More »
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April 13, 2015
For 2013 Lincoln MKX

Luxurious, powerful car but the tactile screen is a dangerous distraction and the design is too low profile.

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After two years use, I enjoy the MKX for the comfort of the drive but it rides heavy in that breaking requires significant pedal pressure and the distance required to stop the VUS is considerable (admittedly... + More »
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April 13, 2015
For 2013 Lincoln MKX

A Great Ownership Experience That I Am About To Repeat

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When I leased this vehicle I came out of a 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited which I enjoyed. While I had previously had Lincolns the Santa Fe seemed a good value for the money and proved to be. But I decided I... + More »
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Styling 8
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