By on December 10, 2012

One thing that really burned me about design school: when a student applied their talent outside of their comfort zone, subsequently ruining a famous bodystyle, make or model.  Hey, I’m guilty of it too. VERY guilty. But a foolish, ignorant student at the College for Creative Studies is one thing, getting paid by the manufacturer of said brand is a whole ‘nother.  And while the original, JFK-Continental infused, Lincoln MKX wasn’t far removed from the Ford Edge from whence it came, the redesign takes what was once a solid reinterpretation of the Lincoln brand and well…completely screwed it up.

Again…ever since the Mitsubishi Diamante face of the Lincoln LS, that is.  Let’s get this over with.

Like most all new Lincolns, the MKX has way too much width in the grille and not enough in the painted bumper and/or the lighting pods. While the strong center Mohawk hood crease, slender headlights and cohesive chrome valence (lower bumper treatment) look clean and logical enough, the face isn’t friendly to the CUV’s gigantic real estate.  The original Aviator/MKX design looked JFK-sleek and off-road friendly at the same time: it was pudgy like a proper CUV (so to speak) and had enough brand recognition bling to make it work.

BTW: if you’re upset that I kept dealership’s advertising present, don’t worry: Southwest Lincoln (Mercury) closed this year after being in business since 1966.  Owned by the same person that owned the Houston Oilers, “SWLM” was a fixture in Southwest Houston.  But it, much like the Lincoln brand AND the Houston Oilers, was left for scrap.  At least the Houston Texans don’t suck this season. But I digress.

 

Another reason why big grilles are a bad, bad idea: they cannot be functional.  When 30+% of the krill-filtering teeth don’t even feed this whale, the designers at Lincoln completely screwed up. This looks Tupperware Pontiac Grand Prix cheap. I wonder how the new MKZ will fare from this angle.

 

Which is a shame, because the intersection of so many fast lines looks absolutely fantastic up close.  If only this was on something Lincoln Town Car sized, especially in the height department.

 

Too bad I knelt to look at that valence.  The chrome is fine, but the oversized black trimming around the fog light is a poor (literally) way to integrate a round element into the chrome rhombus-thingie.  And there’s ANOTHER solid plastic grille…why? Attention to detail: not present.

 

Then again…imagine this pointy profile on a Mustang chassis!  Oh my, I’m feelin’ a little faint!

 

Another problem with the MKX’s redesign: round fenders on a blocky body, complete with a round crease above the wheel that has to meet up with the original’s hard and straight line from the door and back to the end of the body.  Much like a child hammering a round peg in a square hole, the designers are trying to take Lincoln’s latest design direction on the angular wedge that is the Ford Edge.  It isn’t called an “Edge” for no reason, Son!

 

Here’s a close up of the round element trying to seamlessly blend into the straight line crease of the Ford Edge.  It’s hideously flabby in its undefined and timid execution, looking like a mistake from this angle. But this is no mistake. Neither is the MKX’s fake fender vent appliqué in the shape of the Continental Star.  And there’s a wonderful black plastic triangle of DLO FAIL with chrome trimming up top, but more on that in the next photo.

 

The fender extends into logical places for both the door and the A-pillar. And because it does, there’s that black plastic DLO FAIL triangle, trying its best to make the MKX appear sleeker/longer/faster than it is…or ever could be.  I doubt the MKX was ever a credible sales threat to the Lexus RX, and here’s one reason why: the RX is so much prettier with more glass and none of the DLO FAIL.

 

At least this side marker light in the mirror housing looks pretty trick.  I wonder if they’d fit on a Lincoln Town Car, I’m sure they’d love to “escape” the MKX (get it?) for a proper Lincoln.

 

Lincoln’s signature keyless entry pad is a slapped on afterthought-like on the MKX, since this is an older design that was heavily based on the Ford Edge.  While this was acceptable in the 1980s with the fox body Lincoln Mark VII, it’s still a shame: the fox body Lincoln Continental had the keypad mounted flush with the aluminum trim around the base of the window. So while we love to complain about Lincoln’s current problems, they’ve been battling this since at least the 1980s.  Too bad about that.

 

Well, at least the detailing on the panoramic roof is pretty cool.  I like this lip spoiler looking thing…the entire roof panel of the MKX looks pretty sleek.

 

 

We used to live on the Edge, until someone heated the MKX’s front fascia and lightly smashed it into a brick wall.  The front end’s ripple makes absolutely no sense with the other 3/4′s of the MKX’s body.  This CUV is another tragic victim of Lincoln’s inability to stick with a design theme.  Or make a cohesive theme.  Or perhaps both.

 

But the wheels (photographed on another MKX on the lot) are pretty tasty.  Lincoln’s had a bad habit of writing “LINCOLN” in huge lettering around the hubcap, not present here.  I guess nobody’s gonna mistake this one for a Honda, so the letters got the boot.

 

Even worse, they ruined the original MKX’s taillight treatment too!  Sporting a proper full-width treatment that was impossible to mistake at night, the MKX used to be a catchy design.  With these two amoebas on the tailgate, all that brand equity was flushed down the toilet.  For what reason? The MKT has the same goofy nose with a somewhat sane full-width taillight…why on earth can’t the MKX have the same thing, too?

 

The new reflector treatment is certainly catchier than the last one.  If only the outgoing model’s dimensionally correct tail light had these inside instead. It would be a logical and proper upgrade for the Lincoln brand.  It would signify the product renaissance Ford says is right around the corner.  Instead, they blanded up the rear end, generic to death.  But at least the chrome inside them is sweet!

 

Nice afterthought backup camera. Instead of integrating/hiding this in some other element like so many other luxury vehicles, Lincoln seemingly had no choice but to make a new plastic part, slap a logo and a camera in it. I think a camera integrated into the FULL WIDTH TAIL LIGHT of the original MKX would be pretty nice.

 

How is this a Lincoln?  More chrome than the outgoing MKX? This new tailgate is, without question, a huge step backward for the brand.

 

Where did it all go wrong?  While I love my Mark VIII, it’s far from a perfect design, and didn’t sell terribly well.  Could Lincoln’s fear of getting stagnant be the reason why we are in our current MK-Hell? I doubt it.  While the personal luxury coupe market dried up in the 1990s, I still get compliments on what a “Great New Lincoln that must be to own!” For real. In my dentist’s parking lot last year, to be precise.

Wanna know the funny part? Comments like that turn my car into a Halo Vehicle in consideration of new Lincoln vehicles in this town.  A Dodge Viper with a fake spare tire hump. Believe that.

And why the hell not? From that long, sleek nose to the short and low rear deck with integral Continental kit, the Mark VIII paid homage to Edsel Ford’s original Continental coupe while still looking like a new car. Is there a lesson to be learned here?

Thanks for reading, you have a fantastic week!

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36 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 2012 Lincoln MKX...”


  • avatar
    tresmonos

    The sad thing is that this sells much better than the more ‘Lincoln’ MkX. At least the MkT kept it’s cool tail lamp treatment.

    PS: that is one sick looking Lincoln you have in your garage.

    • 0 avatar

      Really? Well, it does have a much better interior and more content…and maybe Lincolns are selling better in general over the past 5-7 years.

      Styling isn’t everything.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan Roth

        No, they’re not selling better. Lincolns are not selling well at all. The reason why? Because they have nothing to sell that’s not a thinly rebadged Ford. Sure, there’s more content, the styling is a little different and the interiors have been marginally upgraded, but not enough to make anyone in their right mind (other than the dying-off class of Lincoln brand loyalists) purchase the Lincoln over a comparable Ford. Especially now that there’s a Titanium trim level on lots of Fords. The Lincoln may be slightly better, but Titanium is expensive enough and good enough for most buyers.

        Lincoln’s biggest problem is how great the Fords they’re based on are, and how little they differ from those cars.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        YTD total Lincoln car sales from peak in 1990:
        1990 210,710
        1991 164,041
        1992 145,227
        1993 159,312
        1994 162,798
        1995 137,993
        1996 129,093
        1997 125,895
        1998 130,776
        1999 124,498
        2000 144,390
        2001 120,037
        2002 105,621
        2003 83,446
        2004 73,070
        2005 63,885
        2006 73,394
        2007 57,735
        2008 53,195
        2009 44,787
        2010 43,921
        2011 45,067
        2012 38,546
        YTD Lincoln Truck:
        1997 26,831
        1998 43,859
        1999 39,250
        2000 37,923
        2001 31,896
        2002 35,535
        2003 68,412
        2004 60,042
        2005 51,991
        2006 39,270
        2007 70,385
        2008 48,543
        2009 32,217
        2010 33,847
        SUV:
        1997 72,194
        1998 91,454
        1999 88,531
        2000 84,470
        2001 77,333
        2002 80,613
        2003 117,951
        2004 111,129
        2005 108,307
        2006 90,025
        2007 120,696
        2008 86,814
        2009 65,927
        2010 66,728
        MkX:
        2006 859
        2007 37,953
        2008 29,076
        2009 21,433
        2010 21,932
        2011 23,395
        2012 22,490
        It apears to be doing the same ‘ol thing.

    • 0 avatar
      dmanww

      Hey man,

      Where did you get your Lincoln sales data? I’d like to have a play with it and do some comparisons.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    What happens as a design moves from the original designers through levels of the auto bureaucracy and executive fiddles to the final showroom-ready product? Do squads of diddlers hack the design all along the way adding gimcracks, doohickeys, plasti-chrome, nubbins, carbuncles, etc.?

    Or do the designs actually start overdone, over creased, over-accessorized, and so on?

    • 0 avatar

      Usually the former, designs start as pure renderings of an idea. Corporate design wishes and platform engineering limitations move on from there. And then the re-work of an initial concept begins…or from what little I’ve heard on the matter.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I didn’t realize SWLM closed this year….what a shame, although I can see a complete dearth of product for them to sell enough to sustain a business.

    Along with Bud Adams, I don’t miss the Oilers either. With all the Texan fever, I’m going with the Patriots tonight!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Picture #5 of the headlamp could very easily be a Murano instead.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Sajeev,

    All of your criticisms of the design flaws present in this vehicle are quite spot-on. And it would appear, based on Lincoln’s new 2013 MKZ, that they’ve realized their mistakes and are attempting to smooth out the Lincoln visual attributes more elegantly.

    Take, for example, the MKZ’s face. The krill-grille vertical strakes have been redesigned to flow along the bumper’s lines. Speaking of bumper, it is now properly sized in relation to a much slimmer grille.

    Out back, you’ll find your edge-to-edge brake lights, similar to your big “eight”.

    In all, a much better take on the new, ahem, Lincoln Motor Company.

    Is this still warmed-over Ford? Consumer taste and time will tell. I personally like it much better than ol’ Whaleface. Hopefully, MKX will get a makeover soon. Because like The Humpback (MKT), its design really blows.

    Maybe what’s called for now is a vellum comparison/contrast…MKX vs MKZ. The old vs new look.

    • 0 avatar

      In pictures I both like and dislike the new MKZ. But no doubt, it’s better than the outgoing model: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/vellum-venom-2012-lincoln-mkz/

      One day I’ll snap some photos of the new one and Vellum it.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Pity about Lincoln’s design problems. I agree, they go from nondescript all the way to rediculous, as we have here.

    However, the new MKS is very nice lookng, IMO. I’s coherent and classy lookin. PLEASE bring back a few dashboard knobs, PLEASE. Im diggin the pushbuttons!

    I have always liked the smooth lines and the classy posture of the mark VIII cars, the the sublte continental kit is very very cool. How about a new continental? flatten and lenghten the existing large car plarform, add the rear hump, flatten the sides, viola! Someting to look at, to have presence. Jaguar has done a nice job of it, their large cars are gorgeous.

  • avatar
    -Cole-

    Oh god, the backup camera.

  • avatar
    2011TCCE

    Original MKX grill was way better. Should be the face for all of Lincoln. Instead, we get a waterfall version of Pontiac’s kidney beans. At least the new MKZ gets the full width tail lamps.

  • avatar
    jellybean

    Yep, they totally wrecked it. My heart sunk the 1st time I saw those new tail lights. It’s the kind of design I would doodle in high school. I thought it was cool when I was 17, now it’s just bad. And enough with that waterfall/krill grill. I loved the JFK-esque grill on the previous version. Why can’t Lincoln find it’s way?

  • avatar
    Liger

    Did anyone else notice the poor fit of the fender to the A-pllar? The gap between the two doesn’t even line up correctly. All the more reason to spend more and get a Lexus.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Is that A pillar base horribly misaligned to the fender or is that just a trick from the angle of the photo?

  • avatar

    My issues with this design:

    a) The chrome trim should surround the entire side greenhouse, rather than just underlining the bottom portion.

    b) Lincoln could have integrated that keyless-entry pad as a touch-sensitive area on the B-pillar, a la MKS

    c) This issue carries over from the original Edge and MKX, but metal door surrounds are hideous on SUVS and crossovers that have glass over the C-pillars. Reference Lexus to see the proper way it’s done.

    d) Mr. Mehta is correct. That krill-vacuuming grille is entirely too big.

    e) Take those ugly ridges out of the roof panel. In this day and age, they aren’t necessary–especially in a vehicle that has less than a one-percent chance of being used for anything remotely rugged.

    f) Lincoln should have exchanged the door-handle for one with a more-striking profile.

    Overall, it just astounds me how the Lexus RX can look completely apart from the Toyota Highlander (or the Acura MDX as compared to the Honda Pilot, or the Cadillac SRX as compared the Chevy Equinox as compared to the GMC Terrain), and yet Lincoln’s luxury SUVs have to be exact clones of their Ford counterparts. It so happens that the Ford Edge looks really good with these shapes–especially the Sport with those awesome wheels and blacked-out features–but this car as it stands really doesn’t befit anything that Lincoln is trying to portray.

  • avatar
    01 ZX3

    I actually like this more than the original. This and the previous MKS were the only Lincolns that the water fall grill actually worked on IMO.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Am I the only one that likes the keypad? Granted, it is tacked on in this application but I much prefer it to the gigantic fob or key that costs 500 bucks when you wash it with your pants plus there are occasions it is convienent to lock my keys inside of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      In the mid-90s, I mashed the key pad buttons in a random pattern on an Explorer belonging to a buddy’s dad until the door opened. Took less than a minute.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      I like the keypad too. In addition to the obvious feature that you will never be locked out of your car, I find it is often quicker to hit the keypad than to fumble in a pocket for the fob, then find the right button.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    I don’t ever recall seeing one of these in the flesh and while I usually roll my eyes at people who can’t keep the alphanumeric model names of BMW/Merc/Lexus/Acura/etc straight, I still have no idea which Lincoln model is which. Like Oldsmobile, this is a faux luxury brand that will not be missed when it’s gone.

  • avatar
    300zx_guy

    - The black triangle at the front of the DLO looks like a near match for the one at the back of the prev gen MKZ. Why do designers even try DLO triangles on cars with doors that have wide window frames? The cut lines always makes it look extra ridiculous. For an example of how it can be done right, see the Audi Q7: there’s NO front DLO triangle, and at the rear window they add a cut line around the back window to match the cut of the door frames, creating a cohesive look for entire DLO (maybe they should’ve tried that on the Sebring’s infamous black triangle?). For the utimate DLO fail, even worse IMO than the Jag XJ’s C-pillar, see the Ford Explorer’s A-pillar: they combine the dreaded black triangle with a partially blacked out front door frame in a tragically failed attempt to create a wraparound glass look.
    - Coming from a former MkVII owner, I would love to see a halo LSC with the continental kit hump, but not holding my breath. Besides, now that they’ve botched the naming, can you call it a “Mark IX”, or would it be an “MKIX”, pronounced “em-kay-eye-ex”?? Ugh.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I’ll be one of the first to admit I know little about car design. But even before this I thought this was an awful rebadge job.

    You’ve just made my opinion of it even worse. I really feel sorry for the people who get suckered into buying this eyesore.

  • avatar
    calmaro

    Good observations and pics.

    Concerning Lincoln MKX’s round front fender elements, Acura ILX and upcoming RL also feature these pronounced humps.

    Better integrated in those two. Is this a styling gesture supposed to call attention to vehicle’s FWD status?

    Is it daring and dramatic? Or odd and off-putting?

    I care about Lincoln and think that they’re choosing a somewhat tame and safe niche to occupy, for now.

  • avatar
    Manster12

    Very well said!

    And I like the last picture the BEST!! SWEET Mark VIII! :)

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The Mark VIII was a real Lincoln with right wheel drive and Lincoln styling. The MKX looks a hell of a lot better than the Mkabortion thing that replaced the beloved Town Car!

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    The original grille and taillight treatment for this model were far better looking to me. Now the MKX has no Lincoln character/heritage at all. BUT, Lincoln needs to learn to distinguish it’s models from the Fords upon which they are based. Cadillac, for example, does a much better job of making their vehicles look more expensive and distinct from their GM platform-mates. Usually, when I see someone driving a Lincoln, I automatically dismiss them as an idiot because they’re just driving a Ford Edge/Fusion/Crown Vic with leather and a Lincoln badge. This has been going on for a while – the late Town Car was a fine example of a much more expensive, gussied-up Ford. This is why Mercury died, and it’s going to be the downfall of Lincoln also if FoMoCo doesn’t get the hint.

  • avatar
    edino

    I really like the whole design of the car, and it expresses a differentiating luxurious DNA. I think the grill, the lights, the design details, the use of lots of chrome and the overall stand of this car is really good, far above the average X-SUV we see today. This car shows its best in dark colours; it looks stunning, whereas in lighter colours it may look a bit dull. I also do not let “history” of Lincoln cloud my judgement; time is different now. Its very good that Lincoln designers became creative in giving it a new class on its own and gave especially the face, the huge grill very distinctive. I’m pretty sure that over time the sales will increase; sales is not just about the shape of the car; its the interior, the ride, trust in the brand, service and reputation. This will take time to change, and definitely the MKX in my opinion is helping Lincoln big time with that.


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