The first thing you'll notice about the 2011 Lincoln MKX is its updated appearance that features a new grille, restyled LED taillights and new 18- or 20-inch wheels. But it's what you can't see that's really important.
While the familiar 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 265 hp and 250 pound-feet of torque returns for 2011, the big news is the new 3.7-liter V6 that puts out a healthy 305 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque while still returning 25 mpg. Both engines come mated to the current model's six-speed automatic transmission.
MKX versions with the larger 3.7-liter engine are also expected to get a retuned suspension for improved handling. The entire MKX lineup will benefit from beefed-up braking components.
New features are also on tap this year. Adaptive cruise control with collision warning, for example, uses sensors to adapt the MKX's speed to a wide range of traffic conditions and primes the braking system if it senses an impending collision. The blind-spot information system includes a nifty cross-traffic alert feature designed to warn you of approaching cars when you're backing out of a parking spot with limited visibility. Finally, parents will like the MyKey feature that allows you to preset things like top speed and maximum stereo volume to help keep teen drivers out of trouble.
Inside, the 2011 MKX also sees the debut of a much-touted driver interface technology dubbed MyLincoln Touch. The system does away with traditional control buttons, knobs and gauges, replacing them with reconfigurable LCD screens and five-way switches like those that have been used on cell phones for several years. Ford's popular Sync system is also standard.
Add a redesigned interior with more comfortable seating and better-quality materials and you have a midsize luxury crossover that should be better equipped to hold its own in an increasingly competitive category.
Check back later in the year for a full report on the 2011 Lincoln MKX.