Vellum Venom: 2012 Lincoln MKX

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
vellum venom 2012 lincoln mkx

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 [s]most[/s] 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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2 of 36 comments
  • Jayzwhiterabbit Jayzwhiterabbit on Jan 20, 2013

    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.

  • Edino Edino on Feb 27, 2013

    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.

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂