News Column

Lincoln MKX AWD

September 6, 2007

Ralph Gray

Lincoln MKX

"X" certainly marks the spot when it comes to luxury sports utility vehicles.

X used to stand for experimental. Now it's in the name of any number of car-based SUVs -- CUVs. There's the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Lexus Rx350 and Lincoln MKX, to name a few.

No matter if marketing nomenclature marches as one. There's plenty of variety in the vehicles themselves. Some are decidedly sporty. Others lean to boulder bashers. Still others are almost sedan-like. A few may actually emphasize utility. All provide the seating and functionality of the forgotten station wagon.

MKX is the elegant version of the Ford Motor Co.'s crossover SUVs. Optioned up, MKX runs north of $44,000. It's Lincoln's first move into the alphabet soup of car names. It used numbers like Mark III before.

MKX is also unlike Lincolns that have come before. It's a modern, hip CUV with traditional flourishes.

The Lincoln MKX puts the emphasis on luxury. That's pretty much what is to be expected from a luxury brand. MKX feels tight and solid. The MKX sticks its nose into the most demanding curves and holds the right line through it.

But the ride is on the comfortable side -- it's a long distance cruiser, not a sprinter. The 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds is capable but not eye popping. The Vista Roof lets in plenty of outside light for both front- and second-row occupants.

Lincoln MKX AWD Lincoln MKX AWD

•Engines: 3.5L V-6

•Dimensions: 111.2" wheelbase; 185.5" length

•Base price: $35,770; As tested $44,385

•Fuel economy: 17/24 mpg

The navigation system can be read even with polarized sunglasses. The screen doubles for the radio and there's no round tuning knob. What there is is plenty of faux wood trim, including the steering wheel, which also contains audio, cruise and climate controls.

The eight-way power front seats can be heated and cooled. A rarity -- rear seats can be heated.

Electronic stability control, roll stability control and antilock brakes as well as the welcome all-wheel drive (AWD) aim to keep the shiny side up.

And shiny it is, with a heavily chromed Lincoln grille. Taillights run the width of the back, side mirrors are chromed and the wheelcovers sparkle. The foglights are rimmed in chrome and the dual exhausts are chrome tipped. The headlights move with the steering wheel to illuminate curves.

So what do all these X's really stand for? Is it excitement (as in booming sales)? CUV sales may top 3 million units in 2008. Traditional, truck-based SUV sales have tumbled to less than 2 million.

Or is it X for excessive -- there are certainly lots of CUVs that look a lot alike. Or maybe excavate as in uncover the latent station wagon lurking beneath.

By any designation, CUVs are here to stay. The Lincoln MKX runs its lap with luxury.

Source: (c) Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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