By Warren Brown
(The Washington Post) – It is a station wagon in reality. Lincoln’s marketers call it a “sport-utility vehicle.” You can get it in front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. In either, it has loads of utility and luxury. But I drove the 2016 Lincoln MKX Premium all over Northern and central Virginia for a week – interstates and back roads – with the new turbocharged 2.7-liter gasoline V-6 (335 horsepower, 380 pound-feet of torque). It is a terrific road warrior.
But it is a station wagon by any other name or description.
That is not a bad thing. It is a good station wagon, despite attempts by Lincoln’s marketers to pass it off as a “sport-utility vehicle,” especially when it’s sold with all-wheel-drive. Don’t fall for that. It will get you through most inclement weather, including heavy snow. But off-road? Forget it. It is a station wagon, easily beaten up by our many declining U.S. roads.
In fairness, I drove the front-wheel-drive version, which almost accurately delivers 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with the new 2.7-liter V-6 option and when lightly loaded and adhering to speed limits. Still, I was surprised – shocked, might be a better word.
Many of the roads in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley are falling into disrepair. That means lots of pot holes, bumps and other irregularities. In the front-wheel-drive MKX, I felt every bump, every pot hole – that, in a long-wheelbase vehicle (9 feet, 4.2 inches) with optional 20-inch wheels and an independent suspension.
I thanked the heavens that it had an ebony premium leather and wonderfully tufted interior – a mixture of old-school Detroit and modern technology.
The interior electronics seemed reasonably workable. There is a Sync with MyLincoln Touch system that, with all available apps and options, helps you stay in touch with the outside world and controls the MKX’s functions. An embedded modem facilitates smartphone operation. Onboard navigation works well, even in the depths of the Shenandoah Valley. And there was welcome advanced electronic safety systems such as lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-side monitoring.
It was loaded. Yet I was left with the overwhelming feeling that the good folks at Lincoln were trying to pass off a station wagon as something else. There was something quite old-fashioned about it, even with all of its modern electronics.
Hmm. When did this happen? When did we in America start looking down on station wagons? We still have large families. We still haul lots of stuff. We still want to pack in everybody and everything. We still need station wagons.
Call it what you will. Equip it how you might, and, goodness knows, you can spend the rest of your life choosing options for the MKX.
2016 Lincoln MKX
Bottom line: It is a good vehicle, a luxury rambler if ever there was one. Just keep it on the road, whether front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. It will serve you well.
Ride, acceleration and handling: It is good and wonderfully smooth in all respects on decent, well-maintained roads. But it too accurately mirrors the defects of those highways that have fallen into disrepair.
Head-turning quotient: It is a luxurious station wagon, a well-tufted mom-pop mobile, and it is difficult to think of it as being anything else.
Body style/layout: The MKX is a front-engine, four-door station wagon with an automatically operated rear hatch. There are options aplenty, including front-wheel and all-wheel drive, a 3.5-liter and turbocharged 2.7-liter Ecoboost gasoline engine, and loads of luxury and electronic safety options.
Engine/transmission: The vehicle used for this column came with a gasoline 2.7-liter, turbocharged (forced air) V-6 with variable-valve timing (335 horsepower, 380 pound-feet of torque) linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that also could be operated manually via steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Mileage: I averaged 25 miles per gallon on the highway using 93-octane fuel, manufacturer recommended for “best performance.”
Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes; four-wheel anti-lock brake system; emergency braking assistance; traction and stability control; post-collision safety system; dusk sensing headlamps; inflatable rear seat belts; side and head air bags.
Price: The 2016 Lincoln MKX Premium edition starts at $45,155. Add $8,490 in options (advance electronic safety, onboard navigation, 20-inch wheels and other items) and a $925 factory-to-dealer shipment charge. Price as tested is $54,570.
But Lincoln wants to sell as many 2016 models as possible. The 2017 MKX wagons are on the way. You can bargain.