The Truth About Cars » MKX The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » MKX Vellum Venom: 2012 Lincoln MKX Mon, 10 Dec 2012 15:27:39 +0000 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!

]]> 36
An Open Letter To Jim Farley, Mark Fields, And Everyone Else Re: Lincoln Wed, 05 Dec 2012 14:00:55 +0000

What’s up.

It’s your boy, JB. You know, the guy who isn’t allowed on your press trips any more. I’m not sure exactly why. It has something to do with me supposedly misusing one of your complimentary hotel rooms as a place to do something besides examine the press kit. I don’t know why it’s a big deal. You’re acting like I put on a satin “dragon suit”, performed immoral deeds using a mudshark, and/or threw a TV out the window. That didn’t happen. I specifically left my satin dragon suit at home that weekend so I can say for sure that it didn’t happen. Maybe that wasn’t it at all. I don’t know. We don’t need to discuss it now. Just censure me and move on.

Plus, it isn’t like you guys haven’t made mistakes yourselves, and more recently, too. I mean, Jimmy Fallon? Curating Tweets? CURATING TWEETS? JIMMY FALLON “CURATING” TWEETS? I need you to stop reading this letter right now so you can go home, cut out a section of your garden hose and savagely beat whoever came up with that idea until they can’t walk any more. Wait. Make that “type”. Can’t type any more. That’s especially important. Because I think that idea probably originated with them typing an e-mail to someone, and until that can’t happen again none of us are safe.

You’re back? Yeah, it feels gooood to really hurt someone like that, doesn’t it? That’s our little secret. Now let’s talk about The Lincoln Motor Company for a minute, okay?

Everybody’s on your case right now. Heck, even the guys at Jalopnik took time off from pimping the Chevy Sonic to get all edgy and harsh and use the f-word and stuff about your “new direction”. I’ll sum up most of the criticism in a few bullet points so you don’t have to read anything but this fantastic website right here.

  • Your whole lineup is apparently made up of rebadged Fords. Well, re-body-paneled Fords. With different interiors. That don’t look much like the Fords they’re based on. But the problem is that there’s a Ford under there, as opposed to the 1961 Continental, which wasn’t a Ford at all, other than the fact that it was engineered and styled with the express mission of becoming a Thunderbird and only wound up on the Lincoln side about two minutes before it would have been too late to make the change. I’m going to write “MKTaurus” here because I feel very smart when I do that.
  • The Ford brand is premium enough already, maybe more so than Lincoln. Well, that’s what you get for not having Daewoo do all your compacts or doing three years of “Red Tag Sales”. That’s your own fault. Sit there and think about what you’ve done.
  • You need to make premium RWD mid-size sedans like the Cadillac CTS. Especially the CTS-V. Nobody’s buying them but I want you to know that I am totally going to buy a CTS-V once they’ve been on the used market a couple of years and I finish my Associates’ degree in Business Manipulation from the University of Phoenix.
  • MKTaurus.
  • FWD is totally lame sauce and the only reason the Lexus ES350 and RX350 sell in soul-crushingly massive quantities is because they aren’t really FWD. They’re totally RWD. The GS350, which has never been seen on the road by anyone, is really FWD. So stop using FWD.
  • Your cars are extremely ugly compared to the aforementioned ES350, the new BMW F-something 3-something, and the ATS, all of which look like unique varieties of underwater fish. Except for the ATS, which looks like the old CTS.
  • MKTaurus.
  • You discontinued the Town Car. Really, that was stupid. If I had the power to do so, I would probably have all of you killed for that. My 2009 Town Car has 89,900 trouble-free miles on it, enduring some of the most shocking abuse you can imagine. Not just from me, although I’ve managed to get all four wheels off the ground while jumping train tracks. My son, too. He spills milk all over the back seat and has been known to get a little queasy while we’re jumping train tracks. I have no idea why you would can one of the most recognized automobiles in the world — a car that traces its direct lineage right back to that hallowed Elwood Engel Continental — and replace it with…
  • MkTaurus.

Enough griping. I don’t think the situation is as bad as everyone says it is. You’ve done a lot of things right. To begin with, you’ve completely ignored the “enthusiast” press and structured your product line around FWD and AWD mid-sizers. Good for you. That’s where most of the volume is. There are already three players in the segment making fake BMWs: Cadillac, Infiniti, and, ah, BMW. By going in the other direction, you get to face Audi, Acura, and Lexus.

Against that trio, I like your product. No, I really do. The MKZ is very pretty and it looks like nothing else out there. The MKtauruS (see what I did there) is actually one of my favorite cars in the whole world. It’s fast enough, it’s super-comfy, it has radar cruise control, and it has a great sound system. If you could take four vertical inches out of the doors it would be the sexiest car in the segment. The MKX is popular with the ladies. The MKT is another one of my favorites, and I love the way the rear hatch gives props to the old Fox Continental. I’m the only one who feels that way, however, so at some point you might have to let that car go.

The competition doesn’t offer anything more for the same money. Most of their customers would be just as happy with one of your products, if they had a chance to get acquainted with them on neutral ground. I know that’s why you are trying the “Lincoln Motor Company” schtick, complete with free gifts and faux-upscale this and fake-luxury that and the Ritz-Carlton and who knows what else. You want people to have a positive enough image of Lincoln to come into the showrooms and get acquainted with the cars. You’re not wrong in wanting to do that, and some of the “concierge” ideas and whatnot are amusing enough.

But none of it will work.

You aren’t stupid. You know it won’t work. You just need to be seen doing something until… what? A resurgence in the American economy, a rising tide to lift a half-million Ford owners into the Lincoln showroom? A catastrophic weakening of the American dollar that somehow doesn’t affect your mostly Mexican-and-Canadian-built product line but makes an Ohio-assembled Acura TL as expensive as a 240D was in 1984, relatively speaking? Another Audi unintended-acceleration scandal? A war with Japan over some islands? None of that stuff is really going to happen. You’re just killing time and wasting money.

The saddest part of all this is that you know what you need to do, don’t you? Yes you do. Can I just show you something real quick-like? Thanks.

What is that? Don’t answer. Let me tell you what it is. Or rather, what it was. It was:

  • A loss leader
  • A marketing tool
  • A great way to build a brand
  • Not really ever sold for $35,000, anywhere, even though the ad said $35,000 for a cloth-seat stripper that existed primarily in someone’s imagination
  • A product that sold a million front-wheel-drive Camry variants for five grand more than they would have cost at the Toyota dealer

Think about that. A million Lexus ES automobiles at a five-grand markup. They say the LS400 cost a billion dollars to develop. Well, any time you can invest a billion dollars and get five billion back, you made money. That doesn’t even count the RX350, which sells for five or ten grand more than a Highlander Limited Super Bongo Fun Time Gold Edition. How much money has Lexus made Toyota as a global organization? Enough to justify the expense of the original LS dozens of times over.

Bloomberg says you are making a billion dollar bet on Lincoln. Starting with ten million dollars or more for a Super Bowl ad. So the money is there to fix the brand. It’s just being spent on junk. Garbage. You-know-what. Marketing. Just stop it. Stop it stop it stop it.

Take your money and make something. Don’t make a “brand”. Don’t make a “plan”. Make a car. Write a check and build something that will make Americans talk about Lincoln again. They don’t have to buy it. It doesn’t have to be a success. It just needs to change your image. Don’t think CTS-V. That only changed the image of Cadillac among bored teenagers and Internet forum warriors. Think Chrysler 300. That changed Chrysler’s image with people who, you know, buy Chryslers and stuff.

History has given you a gift. Lexus had to copy the S-Class down to the width of the C-pillars in order to sell the LS400, because they had no past whatsoever. Cadillac has had to do this whole wedgy F-117 crap because the Fifties and Sixties Cadillacs people remember and love couldn’t be reissued in anything even vaguely resembling their glory. Tailfins and Dagmars won’t play in Safety First America. But you… you have the 1961 Continental. You can make that car again, and you can do it with more fidelity than you could for the 2005 retro Mustang. The front end is tall and blunt — pedestrian safety! The packaging works with modern expectations — the Charger has a long trunk and nobody complains. The car itself isn’t so huge that you’d have to squish it. Make it the same size as a Mercedes S-Class.

This is a product which should already be in your lineup as a successor to the Panther, selling for $60,000 and using the Coyote V-8. The old Town Car should have been redone from the ground up some time before 2010 and we all know it. Since you didn’t do it then, you have to do it now. Spend a billion dollars, or more, on the car.

Make sure it has suicide doors. Make sure it has chrome trim on the inside and black leather. Make sure it looks elegant and vicious and don’t cut corners on it. It should exude menace in dark colors and sunny Camelot optimism in pastels. Then announce that it’s going to cost some nice round number like $100,000 and that each Lincoln dealer will get five of them. Don’t run ads, don’t Tweet about it, don’t involve Jimmy Fallon. The celebrities and the athletes and the pop stars will come to you if it’s a real Lincoln Continental, and they’ll pay real money to be the first ones on the block with one.

The rest of America will come to your newly revised dealerships to see the cars and they will drive home in a Lincoln MKZ or whatever you have on the floor to sell them. It will be the most expensive marketing campaign in history but unlike a Super Bowl ad or a free night in a Ritz-Carlton it will change the way people view the brand. Obviously you have to call it the Continental. Not MK-anything. Not Mark Nine. The Lincoln Continental, from The Lincoln Motor Company.

It could fail. That’s a real possibility. You could release the car on the day the stock market collapses or the day that China seizes the West Coast using paramilitary forces. Or it could simply be too late to save the brand. But make no mistake. If you fail by building the best American luxury car in history, that’s a hell of a way to fail. That’s the right way to fail. That’s the American way to fail. But if you fail because you waste money on “branding” and garbage, you’ll have done more than failed. You’ll have ruined a great American brand. And there aren’t that many of them left, so they’re important, and we should save them, even if we need to be brave in order to do so. Tell Jimmy Fallon to put that in his Twitter feed and curate it.


Jack Baruth
Lincoln Owner

]]> 255
Review: 2011 Lincoln MKX Wed, 05 Jan 2011 22:11:56 +0000

The Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX have been sales successes despite lukewarm, at best, reviews. Apparently they provide what the typical crossover buyer wants. For 2011 they’ve received revised exteriors and thoroughly reworked interiors. Intrigued by the new MyFord/MyLincoln Touch user interface, I requested one for a week, and received the MKX. So, what’s the future like?

First, the rest of the vehicle. The name remains easy to confuse with the MKS and MKZ. The changes to the exterior styling align the MKX with the rest of the line, swapping out the classic Continental-inspired eggcrate grille for an oversized twin-portal piece and similarly splitting the previously one-piece tail light. Also, the front fenders now hump up, Mazda style, over the wheels. All of these changes render the exterior more trendy and less clean, though the MKX remains a moderately attractive vehicle.

The interior changes are more extensive. The retro-inspired instrument panel is gone. French stitching has been molded into the new, less distinctive IP to make it appear luxuriously upholstered, and the effect is convincing. The extensive wood trim is the real stuff. The metal-look trim is not, but its bronze finish is a refreshing, appropriately upscale variation from the norm. Overall, the interior looks good.

Getting into the Lincoln MKX is a bit of a chore, as the doors feel very heavy. Why? As in the first-generation MKX, but perhaps a little less so, the seat cushion can feel unexpectedly hard. The seatback provides some lateral support, which is more than the typical buyer will ever need. The seat heaters take a long time to get to work, and the steering wheel heater affects only the outside edge. Palms benefit while fingers—most in need of the heat—remain frigid. The rear seat reclines, but is a little low and there’s less legroom than in the average compact crossover.

The engine, bumped from 3.5 to 3.7 liters, is now good for 305 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 280 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000. Though about 50 short of the EcoBoosted variant not offered in the MKX, this is more the enough to accelerate the MKX’s 4,361 pounds as quickly as the typical owner will ever desire. Even with front-wheel-drive there’s no torque steer, but the nose becomes light and wanders a bit under hard acceleration. As in other applications, the big V6 sounds gruff and pedestrian. Especially considering the MKX’s $40,000+ price it should sing a sweeter song. To view it you must wrestle with a prop rod. The six-speed automatic can be manually shifted, but the shifter is too far rearward in M to do this comfortably.

Driving casually about the burbs I observed from 16.5 to 19.5 MPG, the key variable being the number of stops. Cruise a steady 55 and the MKX manages to top 20, though not by much. Drive the MKX aggressively and you’ll see 12.

The MKX’s chassis has been improved, but remains subpar. The crossover feels stable and understeers minimally once it takes a set in a curve, but feels unsettled and vague on center. The quick, light steering deserves only some of the blame; most of the on-center slop seems to originate from the suspension. The ride is smooth and quiet…if the road is smooth. Toss in a few bumps and the MKX bounds and thumps over them, even though the 20s are not as low in profile as the 22s offered on the Edge. Oddly, the MKX handles and rides better (or at least much better than expected) on a curvy, unpaved road. While some of the best cars feel better the harder they’re pushed, vague handling in the most casual driving isn’t a prerequisite.

Which brings us to MyLincoln Touch. This system employs three LCD displays, including a pair of small ones flanking the conventional speedometer and a large touchscreen, ten switches on the steering wheel, including two four-way rockers, and a few rows of newfangled touch-sensitive switches on the center stack. The Edge/MKX sibs and the Chevrolet Volt are the first places I’ve encountered these “anti-buttons.”

If you suspect that such a complicated, unconventional system requires a few days to figure out, you suspect correctly. If vehicles with these controls end up in rental fleets, the rental car companies better beef up their help desks. At first the touch-sensitive controls frustrated me, because prodding them with a fingertip, like one would a conventional button, often does nothing. I then learned that brushing a fingertip across a control is both easier to do, as it requires less precision, and works every time. The audio volume and fan speed sliders seem especially nifty once you figure them out (not all reviewers have, but my kids did).

The touchscreen remains dicey even well up the learning curve. The four basic systems—nav, phone, audio, and climate—are color-coded (on both the large touchscreen display and the steering wheel-controlled right-side small display) and logically organized. One problem: as on other such systems, is that too many basic functions—like the seat heaters you want engaged ASAP on a winter morning—require two or three steps to access. A larger one: unlike with the touch-sensitive switches, your finger must hit the exact spot, and the screen being flat there is no physical guide and no tactile feedback. If the road is even a touch unsmooth your finger is bouncing about and hitting the right spot consequently requires far more time and concentration than in should. Even at the end of the week very little about this system seemed effortless. My wife, who I thought might love it because of her general technophilia, hated it.

All of this said, I found the system quite pretty to look at and fun to use once I sorted it out. But this is a problem in itself, since time spent playing with the controls is time not spent concentrating on the road.

So, a very mixed review. I like the look of the MKX’s interior, and somehow remain fond of the controls. After experiencing them, conventional controls look and feel antiquated. But, by any practical measure, the MKX does nothing especially well. Then again, it never did. Sales have been healthy regardless. Good enough has been…good enough. Perhaps looks matter most. If so, the 2011 MKX should sell even better than the original.

Lincoln provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data

100_9988 100_9923 100_9925 100_9970 100_9922 101_0009 100_9993 100_9930 100_9920 100_9978 100_9997 101_0010 100_9926 100_9921 100_9929 100_9951 100_9987 100_9927 100_9928 101_0005 100_9990 101_0016 100_9931 100_9924 100_9986 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 101_0018

]]> 90
What’s Wrong With This Picture: MKX Gets Cetaceous Edition Tue, 12 Jan 2010 17:04:50 +0000 Sigh. (courtesy: NYT Wheels)

Another year passes and another Lincoln sprouts a baleen-feeder snout. Because familial consistency is more important than allowing innocent retinas to go unseared.

]]> 45