— Patrick Mahoney
There’s not much to complain about in the all-new MKX, which replaced the truck-based Aviator, but I’ll find something.
The luxury MKX is built on a carlike unibody for a better street ride than the Aviator, which shared the trucklike ladder frame of the Ford Explorer. (MKX, Mazda CX-7, and Ford Edge share the same chassis.) A 3.5-liter V6 with a new six-speed automatic transmission delivers 265 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive comes standard. Optional all-wheel drive, tuned for cornering and foul-weather traction, transfers power front to rear and side to side, but lacks low-range gearing. Despite its 4,616 lb, MKX goes from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 8.1 sec., more than a second off Lexus RX350’s pace.
For an SUV, the ride is smooth and the handling nimble, thanks to a fully independent suspension. And Lincoln added extra sound-deadening material to reduce road and wind noise successfully, to these ears. The MKX has a sleek, gracefully swooping roofline, similar to the Lexus, and a high beltline. The front and rear overhangs are short. Projector-beam headlamps bookend a crosshatch grille and LED taillights track across the tailgate.
The interior, with wood and satin nickel trim, leather seats, and coolwhite lighting is comfortable, but unexciting. Front seats are heated and cooled; rear seats are merely heated; and there’s a 14-speaker sound system. This was the first time I’ve driven a car with cooled seats, and I gotta say, they’re cool.
There’s a Vista Roof option, which features two large glass panels, but, alas, our ride had nothing but roof. 60/40 split-rear seats fold flat for maximum cargo space or recline for comfort. The reconfigurable center console can hold a laptop computer and has a 12-V power outlet. An optional input jack connects portable audio players to the sound system.
Other notable options are a remote fold-flat release for the second row of seats, reverse-sensing to take the stress out of parallel parking, adaptive headlamps that illuminate the road through turns, a navigation system, and rear DVD player. Honestly, I didn’t notice any difference with the adaptive headlights but reverse-sensing was handy, especially in town.
For safety, MKX comes with AdvanceTrac and roll-stability control, which uses brake and accelerator intervention to lessen the likelihood of rollovers. And there are six standard air bags, including dual-stage front, seat-mounted front side-curtain, and safety canopy side-curtain air bags for both rows of seats.
EPA gives MKX an 18/25 (city/highway) mpg rating. The base price of $34,120 rises quickly to $41,250 (plus DDC) when you toss in satellite radio ($195); DVD/nav system ($1,995); THX II audio ($995); ultimate package ($1,995) of heated/cooled front seats, adaptive headlamps, 18-in. chromeclad aluminum wheels (sharp), reverse-sensing, and power side mirrors w/auto dimming. Heated rear seats tack on $295; tow package, $295; cargomanagement, $65; and rear-entertainment system, $1,295.