The Friendly Face of the 2011 Lincoln MKX

The crossover sport-utility segment is a favorite for families and active sorts who want practicality delivered in a more attractive and engaging package than so-called mommy vans or that near-extinct species, the station wagon. And with models offered in every price range and from nearly every manufacturer, SUV fans have more choices than drivers shopping in just about any other segment.

Delivering unique and unmistakable style is the Lincoln MKX, a midsize SUV with a frontal presence—and grille—that is anything but midsize. Parlaying signature styling cues from Lincolns of the past, designers of the MKX have created an SUV that stands out among more understated fare from the Continent and the Far East. The MKX merits a closer look by those who find its looks appealing.

Available in front- and all-wheel drive, the MKX is offered with a variety of equipment packages, from low-key to loaded. Our example was equipped with a generous range of standard features, plus the Premium Package, adaptive cruise/collision warning, and red candy metallic paint—nearly $10,000 in options—for a list price just north of $51,000. Included in that package is a plethora of electronic aids and amenities, from rear-view camera to voice-activated, hard-drive-based navigation to effective blind-spot monitoring to an impressive THX II-certified audio system, with 10 GB of music storage.

Engineers have brought the latest in lighting to this Lincoln, with adaptive HID headlights in front and a stylish, full-width swath of LEDs in the rear. Inside, mood-setting ambient lighting makes the cabin almost private jet-like, enhancing the quiet and comfortable interior upholstered in upgraded leather. Once a driver acclimates to their operation, touch-sensitive controls (apart from those not voice activated) demonstrate Lincoln’s commitment to the latest technology. Whether such features better the traditional buttons and knobs is a matter that likely comes down to one’s learning curve and level of patience.

With seating for five and 69 cubic feet of hauling capacity, the Lincoln MKX is not as commodious as some SUVs, but certainly adequate for runs to the wine shop, nursery, or mountain bike trail.

Performance-oriented drivers will look in vain for a V-8; the Lincoln comes with a more efficient 3.7-liter V-6 engine is upgraded for 2011, with twin-intake variable cam timing and other improvements that deliver 305 hp and 280 ft lbs of torque, shifted by a 6-speed automatic transmission. 20-inch, chrome-clad aluminum wheels provide a sparkle that complements the MKX’s toothy smile. (www.lincoln.com)

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