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Should old nose and outdated transmission figure in your 2018 Lincoln MKX buying decision?

2018 Lincoln MKX

2018 Lincoln MKX

What changes will make the 2018 Lincoln MKX different?

Nothing, because model-year 2019 will bring a revamped version of this premium-midsize crossover with updated styling, a new transmission, and possibly a new engine. The 2018 MKX will be a continuation of the design that debuted for 2016. This five-passenger crossover shares much of its basic engineering with the Edge crossover from Lincoln’s parent company, Ford.

As mainstream crossover buyers shift to compact-class vehicles, the number of mass-market midsize five-seaters is dwindling. Luxury buyers, however, still want the passenger and cargo room of a midsize and the premium-midsize-crossover segment has remained relatively steady. Indeed, the MKX outsells Lincoln’s MKC compact-premium crossover, and it recently overtook the MKZ midsize sedan as the brand’s best-selling vehicle.

Even so, MKX sales — despite an 11-percent increase in sales through the first quarter of 2017 – rank it seventh overall in a field of some 22 competitors, behind the Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5, Acura MDX, Buick Enclave, and Infiniti QX60.

Why should I wait for the 2018?

You shouldn’t, and you can take comfort in the notion that most other five-seat midsize luxury crossovers won’t see major changes for 2018. There aren’t apt to be new or redesigned competitors in the same price bracket for at least the next 12-24 months.

As part of its model-year 2016 redesign, Lincoln outfitted the MKX with a new engine option, a full suite of available driver safety aids, and several surprisingly high-end comfort/convenience features. The optional 22-way power adjustable front seats and a 19-speaker audio system, for example, are uncommon for this price strata and help the Lincoln stand apart.

Expect the carryover 2018 lineup to reprise three trim levels: base Premiere, midline Select, and top-end Reserve. You’ll can also again purchase an MKX under Lincoln’s Black Label sub-brand. Black Label versions cost more than their “regular” counterparts but have unique paint and trim while giving buyers some special perks not afforded to other buyers. For 2017, the Black Label MKXs were offered in three “Themes”: Modern Heritage, Indulgence, and Thoroughbred. Lincoln could update these for 2018, but any changes would be superficial.

Unaltered would be the Black Label shopping experience. Interested buyers would contact a specialist online, and this person would be their single point of contact throughout the entire purchase process. They would make an appointment to have a mobile showroom brought to their home or work. From there, the customer would choose their vehicle’s theme, along with other desired comfort and convenience features. Delivery of the completed vehicle would take place at a designated Lincoln Black Label dealership in a private studio segregated from the rest of the showroom. Alternatively, the customer can have it brought to their home or office, provided it is within 30 miles of the dealer. Additional Black Label benefits include 4 years/50,000 miles of no-charge scheduled maintenance that includes a complimentary loaner car and valet drop-off/pickup service. Owners also get priority access to a number of high-end restaurants in cities across the U.S.

Should I buy a 2017 model instead?

Give it serious consideration. Lincoln’s done a fine job differentiating the MKX from the mainstream Ford Edge. It has a personality all its own. It’s mechanically smooth, refined, and quiet, and it offers lots of high-end features at pricing that can undercut rivals by thousands of dollars. Even the pricier Black Label editions are worth a look for their unique style and personalized shopping experience.

Since the ’18 MKX will be a repeat, getting a ’17 will help you avoid buying a vehicle who’s styling and features will begin to date after just one model year. It’ll also help you avoid year-over-year price inflation. Additionally, Lincoln is likely to offer more generous incentives than other near-luxury or luxury rivals. As of April 2017, for instance, it offered several cut-rate leases or no-interest financing for five years that could be combined with factory cash rebates. All in all, MKX is a compelling package, especially if you’re a premium intender looking for something a bit different.

Will the styling be different?

Not for 2018. It’ll continue with the same overall look that came on line with the 2016 redesign. MKX is understated, yet handsome, with clean lines and good proportions. That’s from the hood rearward. The nose is sullied by the winged grille common to most Lincolns produced from 2009-2015. It’s no aesthetic match for the brand’s new face, as found on the MKZ and on Lincoln’s just-introduced Continental sedan and the redesigned 2018 Navigator full-size SUV. The freshened 2019 MKX should adopt this contemporary take on a classic Lincoln look.

Inside, the ’18 MKX will again feature plenty of connectivity and convenience features in an upscale ambience. Materials quality – a key factor in this class — is very good overall, but a few trim pieces are more appropriate to the non-luxury Edge. Room and comfort are fine both front and rear. The available panoramic moonroof steals some headroom, so if you’re tall, you’ll want to try before you buy.

Any mechanical changes?

Unlikely for 2018. Expect the return of two engine choices, both linked to a six-speed automatic transmission available with a choice of front-wheel drive, or for an additional $2,495, all-wheel drive (AWD). The base engine will remain a 3.7-liter V-6 that should again have 303 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. Optional again on all models will be a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 with 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. This engine was a $2,000 option for model-year ‘17.

With engines unchanged, acceleration will again range from more than adequate with the 3.7-liter V-6 to outright fast with the twin-turbo 2.7.

A small fly in the ointment is the transmission. It upshifts promptly but is occasionally slow to downshift when you need more power for highway passing and merging. The revamped 2019 MKX is likely to redress this deficiency with a nine-speed automatic in place of the six-speed. That should bring more responsive acceleration and slightly better fuel economy. To further improve fuel economy, the ’19 refresh may well jettison the 3.7-liter V-6 in favor of the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder available in the MKC. That engine produces a healthy 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque, and because it weighs less than the 3.7-liter V-6, there should little to no change in the MKX’s acceleration.

As for road manners, expect the MKX to remain in the mold of the Cadillac XT5 and Lexus RX: built more for comfort than for speed. Steering feel is likely to remain on the lazy side, and you will notice some body lean when taking turns at anything more than modest speeds. The not-to-be-undervalued tradeoff is excellent ride quality and a cabin largely free of external racket.

Will fuel economy improve?

Almost certainly not. EPA ratings for the 2018 MKX were not released as of this report, but they should mirror those of the 2017 version. So expect the 3.7-liter V-6 to again rate 17/26/20 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 16/23/19 mpg with AWD. Despite noticeably more power, the 2.7-liter turbocharged six should again rate slightly better, at 17/26/21 mpg with front drive and 17/24/19 with AWD. You’re not likely to notice a mileage difference in most driving conditions, though. And Lincoln says you can use regular-grade 87-octane fuel for both engines; premium is neither recommended nor required.

Will it have new features?

Unlikely given the impending 2019 refresh. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given that even the entry-level Premiere has an appealing array of standard amenities. It includes heated front seats with 10-way power adjustment and driver-seat memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, LED accent lighting, remote engine start, rear-obstacle detection, and Ford’s vastly improved Sync 3 infotainment system with integrated telematics. (See the price section below for details on MKX safety features.)

Select models get LED daytime running lights, power tilt and telescopic steering column, leather upholstery, a hands-free power liftgate, and power folding exterior mirrors. Reserve versions gain 20-inch wheels (up from standard 18s), adaptive headlights, cooled front seats, power panoramic sunroof, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, and embedded GPS navigation.

The Black Label builds on the Reserve, adding an Alcantara faux-suede headliner, upgraded 19-speaker audio system, full LED headlights, and exclusive colors for the outer paint and interior leather.

How will 2018 prices be different?

They’ll almost certainly be higher, mostly as a result of year-over-year inflation. Estimated base prices shown here include the 3.7-liter V-6 engine, front-wheel drive, and manufacturer destination fee, which was $925 on the 2017 MKX.

Estimated 2018 starting prices are $40,000 for the Premiere, $43,000 for the Select, and $47,000 for the Reserve, with the Black Label at $55,000. As mentioned, expect to add about $2,500 to each model for all-wheel drive and $2,000 for the 2.7-liter turbocharged engine.

Option packages available for all models include accessories for the cargo area that cost anywhere from $175-$365. The $645 Trailer Tow Package includes a hitch receiver that increases maximum towing capacity to 3,500 pounds, along with trailer sway control to keep any towed objects steady behind the vehicle. Dual-screen rear DVD entertainment would be about $2,000.

Premiere, Select, and Reserve are available with a few extra-cost paint ($495-$695) and upholstery ($375) colors. Additional paint colors are available exclusively for the Black Label, but they are an extra $1,750.

The Select model’s Plus Package ($1,100) includes embedded navigation and blind-spot/rear cross-traffic alert. The Climate Package ($620) nets heated outboard rear seats, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic high-beam headlights, and a windshield wiper de-icer. Among standalone options, you’ll find the panoramic sunroof ($1,895) and an upgraded 13-speaker audio system ($1,155).

Exclusive to the Reserve is the Luxury Package ($4,400) which nets full LED headlights and a 19-speaker audio system. Hands-free parallel parking, front-obstacle detection, and a surround-view camera are part of the Technology Package ($1,720). An upgrade to 21-inch wheels will cost $1,165-$1,300 while the 22-way power-adjustable front seats will run $1,500.

As for safety features, available on the Reserve and Black Label are the Driver Assistance Package ($2,250) which adds lane-keep assist, drowsy-driver alert, radar-based adaptive cruise control, adaptive steering, and pre-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking.

It’s disappointing that Lincoln offers the advanced driver aids only on the top-line trim levels and only as part of a fairly pricey option package. Only models equipped this way are eligible to receive the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick designation, the second-highest honor awarded by the group. Even MKXs equipped with the Driver Assistance Package failed to receive the institute’s highest award, called Top Safety Pick+, because they failed the testing body’s headlight performance test, which it added for the 2017 model year.

When will it come out?

Expect the 2018 Lincoln MKX to start arriving at dealers in the fall of 2017.

Best competitors

BMW X5, Cadillac XT5, Infiniti QX70, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Porsche Cayenne

What change would make it better?

Lincoln should make advanced driver-assistance features available across the entire MKX line, at least as an option if not standard. We expect this to be the case as part of its upcoming model-year 2019 update.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]