2016 Lincoln MKX Crossover SUV: Built for High-End Comfort

Lincoln Motor Company is an automaker undergoing a major makeover. Looking to establish itself as a major mid-level luxury challenger to European and Japanese makes, Lincoln wants buyers to look their way for more than their main established nameplates.

Lincoln is best known for its two, long-standing signature models — the Navigator and the Continental. The former is a big status symbol ride — an SUV with its own zip code. The latter is a legend in the livery business, making such a sizable sector in the limousine business that transport companies loudly protested when Lincoln temporarily removed the car from its lineup.

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 2.04.06 AM

Aside from these two models, Lincoln is redesigning an entire line of higher end consumer sedans and SUVs. The 2016 MKX is one of the most important vehicles in that ongoing rebirth. Crossovers are the hottest selling sector in the automotive industry, and some of the top models for Lincoln’s rivals are in that class.

For example, Lexus sells more of its RX crossover than anything else it builds. Infiniti is enjoying big numbers with its QX30 and QX60. Expect Jaguar’s new F-Pace to be that company’s fastest selling machine come this time next near. So, the pressure was on Lincoln’s designers and engineers to create a crossover to muscle in on some of that business.

Also: 2016 Ford Focus RS: Instant Classic Packs More than $35K’s Worth of Thrills

Team Lincoln pulled it off with an attention to detail and an impressive list of high-tech functions making driving comfortable and the interior cabin an all-purpose shelter from the road’s less pleasant elements. After a weeklong test drive, I came away with a respect for Lincoln’s build quality. There’s an inherently solid, grounded quality to the MKX construction that justifies its starting MSRP of around $38,000 (topping out just short of $54,000 for the highest trim level).

The five-seater employs a 2.7 liter, six-cylinder EcoBoost engine capable of 303 horsepower, upgradeable to 335 HP. This is not a performance vehicle and was never intended to be, so this engine is adequately tuned for city acceleration and grand touring.

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 2.04.24 AM

To fire a shot across the bows of its luxury car rivals, Lincoln filled the MKX with a thorough suite of technological features for both performance and in-car comfort. For example, beyond all the expected climate control and power everything, the crossover’s Lincoln Drive Control employs Continuously Controlled Damping to ensure the most comfortable available ride per road surface. The system monitors everything from suspension to braking and camber, using computers to adjust settings in milliseconds.

The most appealing of the vehicle’s interior attractions is the available 19 speaker Revel sound system. Lincoln designers and Revel technicians worked together to guarantee the entire car is filled with impressive sound quality that is also easily adjusted from the driver’s center console touchscreen.

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 2.03.17 AM

The 2016 MKX still has some of its roots in sister company Ford’s vehicles, so it doesn’t lose touch with that everyman quality completely. No one able to spend Bentley or Rolls-Royce money wanders over to Lincoln. Those companies are on a very elite luxury level, and Lincoln wants to appeal to a broader (if well-heeled) base

Buyers will consider the new MKX a direct rival to similarly sized machines from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Infiniti, and others. That’s the competition Lincoln wants to target, and strong, sophisticated builds like the MKX should put them in position to give the overseas combatants a run.

All images courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company.