Detroit 2010: 2011 Lincoln MKX
By Alex Kalogiannis
The Lincoln MKX, constantly in the shadow of its close cousin, the Ford Edge, steps into center stage by itself for 2011, with a complete refresh inside and out. The MKX will also feature the first application of the MyLincoln Touch, the driver interface that will be featured in all upcoming Ford vehicles.
The front end has been updated with a split-wing grille. A set of prominent wheel arches to house the 18- to 20-inch wheels are another of several exterior tweaks the MKX has received in an effort to turn heads on the dealer floor. The rear taillamps employ an indirect LED system that hides the light source while allowing the light intensity to shine through. This means the LEDs point inward and is reflected back instead of directly beaming outward, giving the lamps a more stylized and distinct look. All this rounds out with 4-inch oval exhaust tips to complete the expressive redesign.
The inside has been refreshed as well, with a greater emphasis on the familiar Lincoln (i.e., “better than Ford”) craftsmanship. You will find all genuine materials inside, as well as decorative stitching, available ambient lighting in the cupholders, and a power tilt/telescoping steering column with a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Leather-trimmed seats with a Tuxedo stripe, as well a combination of aluminum accents across the door, give the interior a livelier, natural appearance, especially when matched with either the Olive Ash or Walnut Swirl wood accents.
Powering the Lincoln MKX will be the 3.7-liter Duratec V-6 which will employ ford’s latest engine technology, Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) for increased horsepower and fuel efficiency. The 2011 will see a 15 percent increase in horsepower, to 305, and will be rated at an estimated 25 mpg on the EPA highway cycle. This engine – which gets the same horsepower rating that the Mustang’s application of it has – will be paired with a 6-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission, which Ford says will give the driver more control over gear selection and performance feel. Upshifts, for instance, are not commanded at redline, and downshifts are allowed at the lowest gear possible as defined by the engine speed. For instance, when a lower gear is selected while descending a long downhill grade, the 2011 Lincoln MKX in SelectShift mode will hold that gear until the driver manually upshifts or returns to the fully automatic setting.
New four-wheel disc brakes provide enhanced stopping power, with upgrades that include steel pistons, larger rear rotors, revised brake friction materials, revised brake booster gain and revised pedal ratios, all of which enable more initial bite and a firmer, more confident feel when the pedal is pressed. The MKX will also offer Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control, which will give greater towing stability for your towing needs, and Hydraulic Brake Assist, for greater force in emergency stops.
Lincoln paid particular attention to the amount of wind and road noise that is allowed to permeate to the cabin with the Lincoln MKX, and with a variety of improvements, this noise has been reduced further than the outgoing model. A more-absorptive sound pack is found throughout the interior, which reduces high-frequency noise more effectively than material that acts merely as a barrier. The result is what Ford calls an improved articulation index, which measures how easy it is to hear and understand someone in the vehicle. The 2011 MKX also features an acoustic headliner, and the microphone for the SYNC system has been relocated so it is closer to the driver for improved voice recognition. The windshield also is thicker and acoustic-laminated for reduced wind noise. Acoustic glass in the front doors also is standard for the 2011 model. Finally, baked-on expandable foam baffles in the fenders and rear D-pillars help seal out unwanted road noise.
It will be interesting to see how the Lincoln MKX will stack up to its competitors in the upcoming year, but judging by looks alone so far, it has taken a significant leap ahead of the pack. It has been transformed from what is basically a Ford Edge with a Lincoln grille into a mini version of Lincoln’s larger three-row MKT crossover.
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