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1971 Lincoln Continental Coupe

The 2011 Lincoln MKX

Just to show you how much things have changed in the automotive world, 40 years ago there were five local dealerships where you could buy a new Lincoln, one each in Amherst, Williamsville, West Seneca, Hamburg, and—believe it or not—on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Yes! There once were actual new car dealerships within the city limits! Now, there are two Lincoln stores: West-Herr in Getzville and Towne in Orchard Park—which by the way, was selling Lincolns 40 years ago at a different address. Had you gone into one of those showrooms in 1971, you would have found, besides a bunch of Mercurys, a lineup of land yachts. And that’s being kind. Your Lincoln choices would have been: the Continental two-door coupe and four-door sedan and the Continental Mark III personal luxury coupe. That was it. Huge cars. Not-so-huge choice.

Today, when you enter the Lincoln showroom (the Mercury nameplate disappeared last year), you’ll be confronted with—of all things—truck-like vehicles: the larger-than-life Navigator (at least there’s a constant there), the full-size luxury crossover MKT, the smaller luxury crossover MKX, and the MKZ and MKS, (looks like whoever is in charge of model names is in a bit of a rut). And let’s not forget the retro-barge Town Car.

This week, let’s take a look at the new MKX. It sits in the ever-rising category of smaller crossovers, which grows as many people finally tire of huge truck-like SUVs and their wretched gas mileage. Many SUV drivers have become used to a higher driving position and possibly the advantages of all- or four-wheel drive, so the crossover is filling the niche nicely. They’re car-based instead of truck-based, so they ride better and don’t necessarily sit quite so high off the ground—I was parked next to a showroom-stock Chevy Silverado four-door pickup yesterday that I swear you’d need a step stool to get into. Vehicles like the MKX also offer top-notch luxury to those who’ve “become accustomed.”

The other thing they offer, which is mighty popular these days, is better fuel efficiency. The front-wheel drive MKX is EPA-rated at 19/26 miles per gallon city/highway while the all-wheel drive model checks in at 17/32, which looks even better when compared to the Navigator’s paltry 14/20. All MKS models hold five passengers and are equipped with a 3.7-liter, 305-horsepower, V-6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Independent front and rear suspensions, roll stability control and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are all standard. On the luxury side, you’ll find heated and cooled front seats trimmed in perforated leather, a remote starter, dual-zone automatic temperature controls, MyLincoln Touch and SYNC systems which control phone, climate and audio controls through an eight-inch center console-mounted screen and voice command, LED taillamps (which, if you’ve ever been behind one of these things, you’ve noticed that you can’t miss seeing at night), and among other things, a reverse sensor system.

It’s nice to know that some of the body stamping for the MKX (and its Ford cousin, the Edge) are manufactured locally at Ford’s Woodlawn stamping plant. Assembly of the MKX and Edge takes place just up the road apiece at Ford’s Oakville, Ontario assembly plant which is also the home of the larger MKT and Ford Flex.

Styling of the MKX has been refreshed for the 2011 model year. Exterior changes amount mostly to the aforementioned taillight panel in the rear and the addition of Lincoln’s now-trademark “split-wing” grille which does a much better job of differentiating it from the Ford Edge than did the previous design.

Pricing for the MKX starts at $39,375 for the front-wheel drive model while all-wheel drivers start at $41,225. Without trying too hard you could price one up to just under fifty grand. Back in 1971 that would have bought—ugh!five Town Cars and a Mark III. I’ll take the one MKX, thanks just the same.

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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