2015 Lincoln MKX Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
April 29, 2015

The 2015 Lincoln MKX has aged well, continuing to offer one of the nicer interiors in the class with very few gimmicks.

The 2015 Lincoln MKX is itself a near mechanical twin of the Ford Edge, but with a much nicer interior, a quieter ride, and a larger engine. It offers the luxury accommodations and high seating position that premium crossover buyers seek out, plus a lot of panache.

The mid-size MKX is joined by a smaller crossover for 2015, the Ford Escape-based MKC. For now, the aspires to be a direct rival to vehicles such as the longtime favorite Lexus RX, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Mercedes M-Class; but it's poised to come much closer to realizing this with an all-new version of the MKX that's arriving for the 2016 model year.

For 2015, Lincoln has made no changes to the MKX, which was last redesigned for 2011, bringing new sheetmetal, a much-improved interior, and the love-it-or-hate-it MyLincoln Touch infotainment interface. It's still a handsome model among its crossover contemporaries, avoiding flashiness with just the right amount of flair. Some are put off by the newest Lincoln grille design, but it works here much better than it does on the larger MKT, for example. The MKX's interior is especially well finished, with nice quality wood, leather, and trim. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard and look fine, while Lincoln offers 20s and 22s on top of those.

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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.

The 2015 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.

When it comes to safety, the 2015 MKX stands as one of the better-rated models in this class, although it's not quite the top choice. In NHTSA testing, it receives four stars overall, while the insurance-funded IIHS calls it out as a Top Safety Pick. Standard equipment includes stability control, curtain airbags, blind-spot monitors, and a rearview camera. 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 incorporates a touch screen and customizable gauge cluster, controlling 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. 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. Lincoln is moving away form the capacitive-touch controls, as evidenced by the new MKC, which does without them entirely.

The MKX is not offered in different trim levels. Instead, Lincoln lets customers add different packages—Elite, Premium, Limited Edition—and a handful of standalone options to create their MKX. 

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2015 Lincoln MKX

Styling

The Lincoln MKX has a grille that's potentially polarizing; but the rest of it is suave and smooth.

The 2015 Lincoln MKX carries mostly subtle styling that's fronted by a very attention-getting face. Still, the MKX doesn't come off as cartoonish.

That controversial grille marked the last generation of Lincolns, and it's since been slimmed down a bit for more recent models like the MKZ and MKC. 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 the interior's neatly integrated LCD touch screen and high-grade wood, leather, and metallic trim. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, while Lincoln offers 20s and 22s on top of those if you're into big wheels.

While the grille gets most of the attention, the second-generation MKX's interior is what really made the difference when it was introduced in 2011. With MyLincoln Touch as its centerpiece, the MKX cockpit has a very sophisticated look and feel and a level of finish that puts it on par with some VW and Audi models. The dash is lit by soft-glowing white lighting, and the dash encompasses the car with soft curves. It's another example of an improved interior from Ford. Trim choices range from real wood in light or dark colors to metallic appliques. 

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2015 Lincoln MKX

Performance

The 2015 Lincoln MKX handles well for such a big crossover; it's plenty quick although overtly sporty.

The 2015 MKX is related to Ford's Edge crossover, but it opens a gap on the less-expensive FoMoCo product when it comes to power and refinement.

The MKX's standard V-6 is available only on one model of the Ford, the Edge Sport. This 305-hp 3.7-liter V-6 is shared with the Mustang, although the Pony Car version has now been detuned to 300 hp for 2015. The powerful six gets the MKX to 60 mph in about eight seconds, aided by a six-speed automatic and a choice of either front- or optional all-wheel drive. The transmission includes 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.

The MKX is also quieter than the Ford, 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.

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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2015 Lincoln MKX

Comfort & Quality

The MKX has great seats and good overall comfort, with impressive materials.

The 2015 Lincoln MKX provides a comfortable over-the-road environment for four adults, with plenty of space in back for a weekend's worth of accompanying luggage.

The MKX features seating for five. The front bucket seats include heating and ventilation for perfect temperature control, and they also feature memory positions so that two drivers can share the car amicably. Memory functions also control 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 improved comfort. Seat heaters are available in back; and you'll even find enough width to fit three adults across in the back on occasion. Unlike even some less-expensive crossovers, like the GMC Terrain, the MKX's second-row bench doesn't slide fore and aft. That feature might help make its smallish cargo area more useful, but it's only a cubic foot or two less sizable than that of some of its competition. 

With the seats folded, the only gripe is that they don't form a completely flat load floor. The MKX's power tailgate is slow to open and close, and it makes a fair amount of noise, but it is at least standard equipment.

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

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2015 Lincoln MKX

Safety

The MKX gets crash-test ratings that are altogether good but not class-leading.

The 2015 Lincoln MKX offers a strong set of safety features, although its ratings from the two major safety agencies don't put it at the forefront for its class.

Crash-test results are a somewhat mixed bag for the MKX. 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, so it's not eligible for Top Safety Pick+ status. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it four out of five stars overall--mainly due to a worrisome three-star score for frontal impact. It should be noted that all of these test scores pertain to the mechanically identical 2014 model; the 2015 scores should carry over entirely.

In addition to the usual array of airbags and stability control, 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 available, 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.

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2015 Lincoln MKX

Features

MyLincoln Touch remains a love-it-or-hate-it item that you have to accept; otherwise the MKX is very well equipped.

The 2015 MKX is not offered in different trim levels. Instead, Lincoln lets customers add different packages—Elite, Premium, Limited Edition—and a handful of standalone options to create their MKX. The list of standard equipment is sizable, making even the "base" model a very luxurious proposition.

The Elite Package includes a panoramic glass roof and adds several functions to the MyLincoln Touch system (more on that below): navigation, satellite radio, HD radio, and THX II certified sound.

The Premium equipment group bundles many items, including adaptive HID headlights, polished 18-inch wheels, blind-spot monitoring, premium leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, a heated steering wheel, and a few other items.

The Limited Edition Package adds premium leather seats; leather trim for the center console, instrument panel, and steering wheel; contrasting red stitching, and dark tuxedo stripe and piping.

Otherwise, adaptive cruise control and collision warning are offered together in an option package, and most of those options bundled above can be ordered separately as well. The only other major standalone options include a rear DVD entertainment system and a wood-trim 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.

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.

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2015 Lincoln MKX

Fuel Economy

Go with front-wheel drive and the MKX is reasonably fuel-efficient; although there's no hybrid.

The 2015 Lincoln MKX returns acceptable fuel economy given its power level, but it definitely lags behind some of the newer, more eco-minded offerings in the class.

Front-drive MKX models land at 18/26 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. 

The engine gets some help in making efficient power from an independent valve-timing system that acts on both the intake and exhaust. It does without direct injection or any kind of power adder like a turbocharger, although given Ford's current engine offerings, those are likely to make their way into the next MKX, due in about a year or so.

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Styling 8
Performance 8
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