Lincoln's press conference at the Detroit auto show made one thing perfectly clear: The split-wing grille is here to stay. The event started with an introduction of the newest members of the lineup -- MKS, MKZ, and MKT -- followed by the introduction of the 2011 MKX. (No Navigators or Town Cars were on stage.) Everything shared the new Lincoln nose. If you don't like it, you should probably look elsewhere.
The MKX receives a new source of power, a 3.7-liter Duratec. The new V-6, which puts out 305 horsepower (up 40) and 280 pound-feet (up 30) uses Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing--each of the four camshafts is controlled independently--with a mild Atkinson cycle during part-throttle application. It also uses aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff, which helps save fuel by shutting off the engine when there's no torque demand, such as when slowing down at freeway speed in a high gear. This allows the MKX to use momentum to keep moving, saving fuel in the process. Fuel flow starts again as soon as you accelerate. According to Lincoln, when the fuel is cut off, all other systems work as they always would. Considering Ford Motor Company used some of its strategies from its hybrid systems in this engine, we'd expect the transitions to be fairly smooth.
On the outside, the new grille isn't the only change to the MKX exterior. There are now more defined front fender flares and new 18- and 20-inch wheel options, and the headlights and taillights have been updated. But from the side, the appearance hasn't changed that much overall and it's still pretty evident it's an MKX.
The interior received a significant refresh, including new leather seats, new brightwork, and a highly revised center stack with a new system called MyLincoln Touch. This system uses touch-sensitive controls, touch screens, and voice recognition to make it easier to operate climate, navigation, and other controls, and can greatly reduce driver distraction. It uses two 4.2-inch color LCD screens on either side of an analog speedometer, plus an 8-inch touch-screen LCD screen in the center stack. This system is run through the next generation of Sync. One of the coolest features of this new system is full WiFi capability, which allows the MKX to become an Internet hotspot. There will also be a built-in browser for use when the Lincoln is in Park. The new model also has such features as an extra USB port, multiple aux jacks, Sirius Game Finder, and Sirius Travel Link.
The new MKX offers more in a package that now looks less like its Edge sibling. MyLincoln Touch certainly seems cool; it will be interesting to see how intuitive the controls are and how much the driver can achieve without taking his/her eyes off the road.
Be sure to check out the rest of our 2010 Detroit auto show coverage live from the show floor in Cobo Hall.