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Safety Overkill?

The 2016 Lincoln MKX.



The redesigned 2016 Lincoln MKX fits ideally into a new, expanding automotive segment— vehicles hampered by technology overload. The sport utility vehicle has an obstacle detection system so sensitive, it just doesn’t know when to shut up.

It’s all for safety, of course. But while cornering at low speeds or advancing in reverse, warning sounds abruptly blast when the vehicle is seemingly within a block of animals, curbs, trees, buildings, parked cars or passersby. It’s the same on the open road. Maneuver to change lanes and you get an ear full, even if the situation seems safe.

Detection systems help prevent potential catastrophe. But the sound sensors on the new Lincoln are super sensitive. They’re so loud, they could potentially cause a driver’s overreaction to an obstacle too far away to be problematic.

The Lincoln’s detection system is further odd because several other impressive technology features on the MKX help define innovation. They also further elevate the luxury vehicle into the top echelon of midsize SUVs.

For its 10th birthday and new generation, the 2016 Lincoln MKX is available in two trims, including my test vehicle, the 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6, a $2,000 option. It has 335 horsepower and advances with authority. It achieves the 0-60 mph standard test in 6.0 seconds, impressive for the segment.

The Lincoln’s power is complemented by a quiet ride and a well-designed, handsome two-tone interior constructed with high-end materials, including leather seats. Add it all up and the MXK is a refined comfort zone on wheels. There’s further enhancement available with another $1,500 option—22-position front seats with a massage mode and automatic shift mode that can inflate or delate air bladders to relieve muscle fatigue.

The MKX’s cabin is spacious, with plenty of head and leg room for front and rear seat occupants. A panoramic vista roof makes the interior seem even larger. Additionally impressive: The MKX doesn’t have a gearshift lever, but it features push-button shift squares on a vertical column dashboard to the left of the navigation screen. It’s a unique approach with a hefty learning curve, but ultimately a refreshing alternative to standard automatic shifters.

Lincoln also did well with its new safety offerings (aside from the overdone warnings): The MKX has earned the government’s top five-star rating for front and side crash tests and is a recommended buy by Consumer Reports.

One new safety feature is a set of cameras that can show 360-degree views around the vehicle at a distance as far as seven feet. One of the cameras emerges reminiscent of gadgets on the Aston Martins in James Bond movies. The vertically positioned Lincoln logo pops out about an inch from between the split front grille. It projects what’s in front of the SUV on the top section of the navigation screen and then retracts for security and camera cleanliness.

When the MKX is unlocked after dusk, the Lincoln logo, the iconic badge with components of a star and compass points, is projected horizontally as a “welcome mat” below the driver and front passenger doors. The door handles are also backlit for added safety. The new Lincoln also has a push button remote start feature on the ignition fob. It’s another convenient concession to innovation, all of which are good exception for the annoying obstacle detection warnings.


James Raia, a freelance writer based in Sacramento, California, specializes in sports and lifestyle topics. He publishes the website theweeklydriver.com.

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