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2011 Lincoln MKX Visits San Francisco and We Drive It

Michael Sheena's picture

Ford's Lincoln brand held a press event in San Francisco to highlight two of its latest models the refreshed 2011 Lincoln MKX and the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

There was a time, back in early 1999, when Cadillac was found to be fudging its 1998 sales numbers in order to stay ahead of the surging Lincoln brand. Since that time, however, it has been a case of "Mostly bland on the Lincoln Front" for the Blue Oval's last remaining premium brand. While Ford was busy attending to its other premium marques, its Lincoln division fell into disrepair. Styling queues came and went as did nameplates and there did not seem to be a common theme running throughout its models. Promising starts, such as the rear wheel drive Lincoln LS sedan were given one run and done with its front wheel drive/all wheel drive "successor" being named the Zephyr and then renamed the MKZ

Now the model year is 2011 and Lincoln is getting a fresh injection of love from its parent company. It has a common face amongst most models, a new adverting pitch and new technology that promises to wow its customers. Lincoln brought the MKX and MKZ to San Francisco and after a few presentations by product and marketing executives, turned us lose on the streets of San Francisco. There was a prescribed route book, but in the words of a journalist friend, route books are for suckers, so we deviated a bit to get a better sense of what these two vehicles are about. In this first report, we will cover the MKX.

2011 Lincoln MKX Interior Is A Revelation

The refreshed 2011 Lincoln MKX mid-sized crossover is going after the likes of the Lexus RX and Cadillac SRX. For 2011 the MKX has banished its non-matching grille for a fresh Lincoln treatment and what we think is the most successful interpretation yet of the Lincoln's signature look. Inside the cabin is the MyLincoln Touch system that offers a glimpse of what next generation controls are going to look and feel like. There is a vastly improved voice command dictionary and intuitive, controls on the center stack and steering wheel. There is not enough time to go through it all here, but overall we were able to quickly learn and use the system. Only once did we get to a point of no return, where a command to try and pause the Sirius radio station got us into a line input mode. No amount of saying "cancel" was able to get us back and finally we had to resort to pushing buttons to get on with things.

Lincoln has the right approach, throwing a ton of technology into the cabin. This MKX ticks almost every box in terms of "must have" features for our next car in terms of technology and safety. Oddly, for such an advanced vehicle, the rear entertainment system is a dealer added option. We don't really care for this as it carries a separate warranty and do you honestly want your dealership jockey's ripping apart your new car to install this system? Being aftermarket also means that there is probably limited centralized control. Given the constant demands for changes from the kiddos who are too young to change things for themselves, it would nice to be able to say "Play rear seat DVD" and be done with it.

Minor quibbles aside, we found the cabin to have excellent materials, with only a couple sore spots. The sustainably farmed Walnut Swirl dash looked too dark and old school, the dimpled aluminum trim looked too plain, the limited edition package's "Unique Aluminum Trim" was rather bizarre and there were no examples of Olive Ash on hand to evaluate. The glove box door and center console door hiding the video inputs also seemed a bit flimsy. Seating comfort was good and the fact that heated/cooled seats are standard on on MKXs is welcome.

Stomping on the throttle unleashed the 3.7 Duratec V-6's 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and caused our front wheel drive model to chirp its tires a bit. Hauling it back down was drama free and the stopping distances seemed typical for this size of vehicle. The six-speed automatic transmission made good decisions and we never second guessed it. The ride quality was excellent, never subjecting us to nasty pavement imperfections. Handling was typical for the class. All crossovers have been improving their game and the MKX is no exception. You are not going to toss this vehicle around with wild abandon, but the again you probably never would think of doing this in the first place. There are more performance oriented competitors, to be sure, but most of them tend to get far pricier. For how we live and work, the Lincoln MKX gets the job done just fine.

The MKX shares an awful lot of the same features and equipment as it sister vehicle, the Ford Edge. In the case of the Edge Sport, they even share the same engine Ford representatives say that there is not much in the way of cross shopping between the brands. Certainly there is some cachet to be had in the Lincoln along with a better bumper to bumper warranty. The Lincoln does have different front and rear styling treatments. There is also more standard kit in the Lincoln and currently Lincoln is offering a four year or 50,000 maintenance plan.

Overall, we like the 2011 Lincoln MKX. It looks worlds better and the interior technology is a revelation. Driving dynamics are on par with the rest of the class and pricing, which starts at $39,995, seems fair given the competition. It would be nice if this Lincoln could boast a few more exclusive features over its Ford counterpart, but the Edge not withstanding the Lincoln certainly schools the competition when it comes to gadgets. If we were in the market for such a vehicle, the MKX would most certainly be on our consideration list.

To learn more about our impressions of the 2011 Lincoln MKX, watch the embedded video or click this link to watch in a larger format.

The author covered his own travel expenses to attend this event but was given a free lunch.

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