A stunning interior elevates the 2016 Lincoln MKX Black Label SUV (I give it three out of four stars), the latest step in Lincoln’s long march back toward relevance in the luxury-car market.
The new MKX has a roomy and luxurious interior, especially in Black Label livery, Lincoln’s new premium trim designation. It’s also comfortable and fuel-efficient.
A couple of usability glitches mar the picture, but this new version of Lincoln’s midsize SUV can compete with luxury SUVs like the Acura MDX, Audi Q5, BMW X5, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti QX70, Lexus RX 350 and Mercedes ML 350.
MKX prices start at $38,100 for a front-drive model with a 303-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6. All-wheel-drive models start at $40,595. All MKXs have a six-speed automatic transmission.
An optional twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6 costs $2,000. It’s rated at 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, although those figures come with a significant asterisk. Keep reading.
I tested a well-equipped MKX 2.7-liter AWD Black Label with a large power sunroof; Revel audio; heated and cooled front seats; navigation; Bluetooth phone and audio compatibility; automatic braking; pedestrian detection and blind-spot alert; adaptive cruise control; front and rear parking cameras and more. It stickered at $63,700. All prices exclude destination charges.
MKX prices are comparable to similarly equipped competitors.
The exterior design builds on the previous model but is sleeker, longer, wider and lower. The MKX shares its architecture with the Ford Edge, but there’s no visual similarity. The two SUVS don’t share a single piece of exterior sheet metal or any visible interior parts, save the touchscreen in the center stack.
The interior of my car was gorgeous. The Black Label trim package included an Alcantara headliner, beautiful Chilean maple wood, black leather seats and saddle-brown leather on the doors and dash. That’s one of four striking Black label color and material packages.
The front seat has plenty of storage, but its usability suffers due to a nearly useless little compartment that holds the front seat’s only 12-volt power outlet. It’s located below the front of the console between the two front seats. It’s hard to reach, difficult to see and very inconvenient for mobile phones. The center console has two much-more-conveniently located USB ports and a couple of larger and more accessible bins.
The audio and climate controls consist mostly of simple dials and switches. The touchscreen reproduces some of those functions and adds controls for navigation, the massaging front seats and other goodies.
Despite being an all-new vehicle, the MKX doesn’t have Lincoln’s latest voice-recognition system. It’s inconsistent and slower than that of the best competitors.
My test car’s optional 2.7-liter bi-turbo V-6’s 335 horsepower topped all the competitors, except the supercharged Audi SQ5. The MKX’s 380 pound-feet of torque beats them all.
Unfortunately, you need to use 93 octane gasoline to get that output, a fact that Lincoln hides in a footnote on its spec sheet after saying in larger, more obvious type that less-expensive 87 octane gasoline is the minimum required fuel.
Based on the power claims Ford makes for the same engine in the Edge, the obfuscation is unnecessary: The 2.7-liter Edge is rated at 315 horsepower and 350 pound-feet without premium. That output would still put the MKX ahead of all competitors save the SQ5 and QX70.
On the bright side, regular gasoline won’t damage the engine, and the Environmental Protection Agency certified the 2.7-liter AWD model’s fuel economy at 17 mpg in the city, 24 on the highway and 19 combined with less expensive regular gas.
The combined figure matches or exceeds all the competitors but the MDX and X5. Using regular gasoline would make the MKX less expensive than them, too.
With 93 octane fuel, the engine delivered fine acceleration. The MKX is a capable and comfortable highway cruiser. The interior is very quiet, thanks to plenty of sound insulation and electronic nose cancellation.
The adaptive drive system provides normal, comfort and sport settings for throttle, transmission, steering and suspension. The steering is responsive and communicative, but neither it nor the suspension encourages the enthusiastic driving that distinguishes the XT, SQ5 and QX70.
But the 2016 Lincoln MKX’s looks and comfort will more than offset that for most luxury SUV shoppers.
Behind the Wheel
2016 Lincoln MKX Black Label 2.7-liter AWD
All-wheel-drive five-passenger luxury midsize SUV
Price as tested: $63,700 (excluding destination charge)
Rating: Three out of four stars
Reasons to buy: Interior look and feel; styling; fuel economy.
Shortcomings: Poor location of front 12-volt outlet and phone bin; voice recognition
Competitive EPA fuel-economy ratings
(Automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive models)
Lincoln MKX 2.7-liter AWD: 17 mpg city/24 highway/19 combined. Regular gasoline.
Acura MDX SH-AWD: 25/35/28. Premium gasoline.
Audi SQ5 Quattro: 17/24/19. Premium gasoline.
BMW X5 xDrive 3.5i: 18/24/20. Premium gasoline.
Cadillac SRX AWD Premium: 16/23/18. Regular gasoline.
Infiniti QX70 AWD: 16/22/18. Premium gasoline.
2015 Lexus RX 350 AWD: 18/24/20. Regular gasoline.
2015 Mercedes ML 350 4matic: 17/22/19. Premium gasoline.
Comparative base prices (excluding destination charges)
(Automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive models)
Lincoln MKX Black Label AWD: $55,810
Acura MDX SH-AWD w/Tech and Entertainment: $51,290
Audi SQ5 Quattro: $53,300
BMW X5 xDrive 3.5i: $56,200
Cadillac SRX AWD Premium: $51,730
Infiniti QX70 AWD: $47,300
2015 Lexus RX 350 AWD: $45,025
2015 Mercedes ML 350 4matic: $50,800
Specifications as tested
Engine: 2.7-liter twin-turbo 24-valve V-6
Power: 335 horsepower at 5,800 rpm; 380 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm (Performance numbers achieved with 93 octane gasoline)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 190.0 inches
Width: 76.1 inches
Height: 66.2 inches
Curb Weight: 4,447 lbs.
Where assembled: Oakville, Ontario
Key features on vehicle tested
Standard equipment: Anti-lock brakes; stability control; front-collision alert; automatic braking; curtain air bags; front-seat side air bags; blind spot and cross traffic alert; adaptive suspension; backup camera; rear parking sensor; hands-free power tail gate; power sunroof; heated power mirrors; power windows and locks; memory for driver settings; adaptive LED headlights; LED taillights; capless fuel filler; Venetian leather seats; heated and cooled front seats; Alcantara headliner; dual-zone electronic climate control; leather wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls; rear center armrest with cupholders; power tilt and telescoping steering column; voice recognition; navigation system; Sirius satellite radio; two USB ports; one front seat 12v power point; pushbutton start; remote start; universal garage door opener.
Options: 22-way power adjustable driver seat; 20-inch wheels; rear cargo management system; cargo mat; cargo cover; heated rear seats; heated steering wheel; rain sensing wipers; front camera; front parking sensors; automatic braking with pedestrian detection; active park assist; lane keeping system; adaptive cruise control; Black Label package; Chilean maple trim