Competing in the luxury SUV market, Lincoln offers the MKX, more of a crossover, equivalent to the Acura MDX and the Infiniti EX35. As such, the MKX has seating for five, plenty of cargo space, and a high seating position. The 2009 Lincoln MKX's big chrome grille makes it look like a luxury car from the '70s, but the tech package in the cabin is cutting edge, about the best you can get today.
Unlike its foreign competitors, the Lincoln MKX has a bulky exterior design, making it look like a small tank. Although dressed up in Lincoln garb, the body lines should be familiar, as the MKX is built on the same platform as the Ford Edge.
Test the tech: Music quality
The 2009 Lincoln MKX is one of the new breed of cars featuring an in-dash hard drive, which serves as storage for navigation system maps and MP3 tracks. The MKX also boasts an audio system designed by THX, the best available for the money. High-end audio systems reveal flaws in compressed music, so we tested the difference in audio quality between music on a CD, and that same music ripped to the car's hard drive.
For our tests, we first ripped two CDs to the car, M. Ward's Transistor Radio, which has acoustic guitar and vocals, and ESL's Covert Operations compilation, consisting of layered electronic tracks with heavy bass. Ripping is easy--just push the record button after putting the CD in the slot. It took about 15 minutes for each CD to finish ripping, and the car's Gracenote database accurately tagged all the tracks.
We cued up the M. Ward song "Oh, Take Me Back" on both the CD and the car's hard drive, which Lincoln calls the Jukebox. We played a segment of the song from the CD, then listened to the same segment from the Jukebox. The tabbed interface on the car's touch screen made it very easy to go back and forth. We were impressed that the version ripped to the car sounded almost as good as the CD version, with differences that wouldn't be noticeable on a casual listen. But we did notice that, where the CD version gave excellent clarity to guitar and vocals, the ripped version muddied it up just a bit, muffling some of the edges. On one section of the song a very quiet background vocal gets almost lost with the ripped version.
We moved on to another M. Ward song called "I'll Be Yr Bird." This track has some low-fi fuzz on the original recording. With the CD version, the fuzz makes a slight backdrop for the strong vocals and acoustic guitar. But in the ripped version that fuzz gets overemphasized. Again, not something you would notice on a casual listen.
Switching to the Covert Operations CD, we cued up a track called "This Girl," by Thunderball, which features rich synthesizer layers. The bass was crisp on both a CD and a ripped track, so that we could hardly tell them apart. But where the background layers came through distinctly on the CD version, they were a bit faded with the ripped track. From these tests, we concluded that the compressed tracks sound only marginally worse than the CD versions, and most people won't hear the difference.
In the cabin
Although the MKX gets its luxury Lincoln styling, there is plenty of evidence around the cabin of Ford design, mostly in the chunky styling of the center stack and shifter. The big plastic buttons are easy to use, but don't really contribute to a refined image. Featurewise, the 2009 Lincoln MKX is well-outfitted, with heated and cooled front seats and multizone climate control.
But the cabin electronics package is the real standout, and light years ahead of most other manufacturers. This is the same package we saw in the Lincoln MKS and the Ford Flex, which combines a hard-drive navigation system with traffic, weather, and gas price data from Sirius Travel Link, along with the Sync system, which integrates MP3 players and cell phones with the car. The Lincolns get the addition of that very impressive THX audio system.