First Drive Review 2016 Lincoln Black Label MKX: No Pokémon here

Lincoln Cover2I had a revelation this past week.  After looking around at all the Millennials chasing Pokémon in the middle of the road, and falling off cliffs, I realized that I am now living that time in my life when the youngsters are reaching the age that they will soon take over the world.  My time it seems has come and will soon be gone.

And that’s a somewhat terrifying thought.

The urban areas of America, the places previous generations once fled for the suburbs, are becoming jam-packed.  Young men who could never chop a tree down are dressing like lumberjacks and grooming beards, while the women are lining up at Starbucks and taking selfies at the gym.

The cars they drive are becoming small, “cute” and increasingly powered by something other than gasoline.  Save the planet, long live Mother Earth, damn the evil oil men.

It wasn’t long ago that my generation was the one running everything.  We became labeled as Generation X, in between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials.  We are the last generation that lived without the Internet, actually used fax machines, and thought being able to cook something in a microwave in only a few minutes was actually pretty neat.

We Generation Xers also seem to be the last to depend on nothing but gasoline engines to power our cars.  Speaking of cars, heck, we used to warn our kids to never get in a car with a stranger, now Millennials (many of them our children who are now young adults) use an app on their phone to summon a stranger’s car instead of a taxi. As for the aforementioned Pokémon, we once told our kids to leave the computer and go outside and play, now they have to be told to get inside so they don’t get run over by a car or fall off a cliff.

All this makes me wonder how long certain things we Gen Xers once knew will still be around.

The Baby Boomers, many once practicing hippies, are now very gray and looking for space in nursing homes.  Many of the things they once knew have fallen by the wayside.  TV’s with glass vacuum tubes, Woodstock, payphones and Pontiacs, just to name a few.

Now with smaller cars, hybrids, environmentally friendly electrics and such, us Gen Xers have to wonder just how long the big fancy cars we have today will still be around.

Case in point: The Lincoln.

My first car was Lincoln. A 1976 Lincoln Continental Mark IV to be exact. My parents gave me the two year old family car on the occasion of my 16th birthday in 1978. Or course, the caveat was that while it was mine I would have to get a job to make payments to them each month. No matter, that first car, that Lincoln, was big, luxurious for its time and stayed with me through high school and my first few years in the military. It was cavernous inside and on more than one occasion, it carried at least eight female companions all manner of places; much to my hormone fueled delight.

The Lincoln Continental was discontinued in 2002, but it and the Lincoln brand has always carried a somewhat special place in my heart.  Ford is bringing back the Lincoln Continental for 2017 as a tenth generation to replace the MKS and I wish the well.  Because I fear that the revival may be short lived.

While I haven’t driven the new Continental, I did have a week with the new MKX recently and it was of course, all I hoped it to be.

My experience with the newer Lincoln’s consisted of a 2013 MKS and the 2014 MKZ hybrid. The MKS was large and luxurious and reminded me of the old Continental I once had, and the hybrid was nice and capable.

The 2016 MKX is a crossover that slots in just below the Navigator.  It debuted in 2006 as a 2007 model and didn’t exactly set the world afire.

The 2016 model represents the second generation of the MKX.  The new generation was much needed. There had been no real updates since 2011 and sales last year were mostly flat.

The changes for 2016 include an updated silhouette that now includes LED headlights, while the interior has been updated as well and includes new tech features. The suspension has been retooled, but an even bigger change comes under the hood with the addition of an optional twin turbo charged 2.7-liter Ecoboost engine that can replace the standard naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V-6.

The changes made to the 2016 model, which debuted last year, seem to have resonated with consumers; sales of the new MKX are up more than 50% in the first-half of 2016.

After my week with it, I can see why.

The Lincoln MKX is offered are four “Group” levels: Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label. It can be had not only with the optional Ecoboost engine, but also with All-Wheel drive replacing front wheel as an option.

The base Premiere comes standard with keyless ignition and entry, remote engine start, rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass, heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and dual-zone automatic climate control.  There’s also leatherette upholstery, active noise cancellation, heated eight-way power front seats with power lumbar support, and a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.

The standard tech features include a central 8-inch display with either the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system (on models built early in the cycle) or the newer Sync 3 system that will eventually replace the MyLincoln in all Lincolns.  In addition to Bluetooth there’s a rearview camera, 10-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB ports and an auxiliary input.

Moving up to the Select Group adds LED daytime running lights, power-folding side mirrors  with an auto-dimming feature on the driver-side. There’s also leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and wood trim and a hands-free power liftgate that can be configured for height.

You can add the optional Select Plus package that gives you a navigation system with blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems.

The Reserve Group moves the wheels up from 18 to 20-inches and adds ventilated front seats, adaptive headlights, mobile-app compatibility, and a panoramic sunroof along with the Select Plus package.



The top of the line Black Label will get you all the Reserve’s features in addition to LED headlights, simulated suede headliner, upgraded leather upholstery, unique 20-inch wheels, and a Revel Ultima 19-speaker surround-sound audio system with HD radio.  There are also four different design themes to choose from, Indulgence, Modern Heritage, Muse and Thoroughbred. The themes determine the trim and upholstery headliner and carpet colors.

There are several options packages available for the 2016 Lincoln MKX.  There’s the Climate package that adds automatic windshield wipers and automatic high beams, along with heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.  You can also add the Cargo Utility package with any equipment group, which adds a 110-volt outlet and a cargo cover, plastic storage bins, cargo net and tie-downs, and a scuff plate.

For the Reserve and Black Label variants, you can get the Technology package that adds front parking sensors, 360-degree camera system and automated parallel parking. The Driver Assistance package has adaptive cruise control, navigation system with blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning system and lane assist.  Finally, there is the Luxury package that has the Revel Ultima audio system and adaptive LED headlights.

By the way, opting for the Black Label level will also gain you entry into Lincoln’s Black Reserve program. The new program gives owners perks like a personalized shopping experience, no charge car detailing and washes, a longer warranty that includes concierge pickup and loaner cars. There are also reservations and a special menu at a small group of partner restaurants.

I had the Black Label with Muse theme and with the Ecoboost for the week, but sadly didn’t get to experience the special Black Label restaurant option.

I did get to experience the new MKX and all it had to offer, and I loved every minute of it.

The outside profile reminds me of the 2016 Range Rover without the boxy nose and sharp angles.  Inside however it’s all Lincoln. The 22 way adjustable seats (with massage function I might add),  can be set up via the touch screen, which is actually quite a nice change rather then fumbling with controls on the side of the seat or on the door,(although controls for the MKX seats are still on the side of the seat if you are so inclined). The configurable gauge cluster was a bit confusing at first, but as I always point out, an owner would have much more time to figure that out. The MyLincoln system, panned by some, was actually pretty easy to control via the touchscreen.

On the road, the MKX was nothing short of marvelous.  There are three configurable driver settings,  Normal, Sports, and Comfort.  No matter the setting though the newly tuned suspension glides effortlessly over the road and the cabin remains relatively silent, although to be honest there was a bit more engine noise then I felt there should be. Of course that was “fixed” by turning the volume knob on that great sounding Revel Ultima audio system up a few notches.

The Ecoboost engine was more than adequate and the six-speed automatic transmission met the demands smoothly.  I did wonder however about the need for paddle shifters on such a luxury vehicle.

The Lincoln MKX competes with such luxury crossovers as the BMW X3, the Mercedes GLC-class and the Cadillac XT5. After my week with it, I can say that the Lincoln MKX definitely belongs on the same playing field.

Sadly however, I wonder about the future of not only the Lincoln, but the future of all the luxury brands. Sure all now offer models that include hybrids and have less of the luxury they are known for. But with the latest generation opting for smaller more utilitarian vehicles, I worry that the luxurious opulence we find today will someday be frowned upon.
Of course, the generation before mine probably looked at us somewhat askance when we were the age of the Millennials. They too probably worried as we danced to electronic music, embraced the emerging technology of the internet, and worshipped the ground Steve Jobs trod upon.  After all we did dress in spandex, practiced aerobics, and sang, “We are the World.”

But we survived Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, the Cold War, New Coke, Milli Vanilli’s lip synching and Rob Lowe’s sex tape.  Under our stewardship the world didn’t explode or fall off its axis and I suspect the same will be true of this current generation. We may look at them somewhat askance, but at the end of the day, I suspect everything will be just fine.

Now you kids get off my damn lawn, there ain’t no Pokémon here.

The 2016 Lincoln MKS (Black Label)
MSRP:  $55,810
MSRP (as tested w/ engine upgrade, Climate, Driver Assistance package, AWD): $67,020
Engine: 2.7-liter twin Turbocharged V6 Ecoboost, 335 hp @ 5500 rpm, 380 lb-ft torque at 3000 rpm
Transmission:  Six-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 17 city, 24 highway, 19 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested mixed conditions) 22 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 4387
Max. Towing (when properly equipped): 3500 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase: 112.2
Length, Overall: 190
Width, Max w/o mirrors: 76.1
Height, Overall: 66.2
Track Width, Front: 64.8
Track Width, Rear: 64.7
Min Ground Clearance: 7.8

Interior Dimensions (inches)
Passenger Capacity: 5
Passenger Volume: 108.3
Front Head Room: 37.8
Front Leg Room: 42.8
Front Shoulder Room: 58.9
Front Hip Room: 56.4
Second Head Room: 38.6
Second Leg Room: 39.6
Second Shoulder Room: 59
Second Hip Room: 55.6
Cargo Area Dimensions
Cargo Volume to Seat 1: 68.8
Cargo Volume to Seat 2: 37.2
Cargo Volume to Seat 3: 37.2

Basic: 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 6 Years/70,000 Miles
Corrosion: 5 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 6 Years/70,000 Miles
Maintenance: 2 Years/24,000 Miles

All specs can be found here (PDF)

Greg Engle