A major revamp, inside and out, brings a new look and loads of class-leading features to the 2011 Lincoln MKX. Those enhancements, which far exceed what normally occurs in a traditional "mid-cycle" refresh, are bolstered by an equally significant powertrain upgrade. Collectively, this comprehensive makeover should help Lincoln's mid-size luxo crossover become even more of a conquest threat to foes like the Audi A5, Buick Enclave and Lexus RX350 when it rolls into dealers later this summer.

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The most obvious exterior changes appear up front, where the 2011 MKX augments its new signature Lincoln "split-wing" grille with more evocatively styled HID headlamps. Bolder fender arches also reflect the decision to move the division's chassis rear "haunch" kickup to a forward position. Out back, the big transition involves transitioning from a single, full-width taillamp to individual units that implement a more refined glare-free LED array. Rounding out the mix are restyled 18-inch/20-inch alloy wheels and an even more generous dollop of brightwork accents.

Inside, the 2011 Lincoln MKX boasts a new and even more luxurious cabin treatment that matches premium wood, leather and aluminum trims with a new dash design that incorporates the first application of MyLincoln Touch driver connect technology. Powered by SYNC, this sophisticated interface introduces an unprecedented level of user-friendliness to in-vehicle communications of all kinds by replacing most of the conventional buttons and switches with voice or touch-activated controls. In addition to its mega-roster of standard luxo features, more deeply contoured bucket seats and new levels of noise-abatement/suppression tricks, the 2011 Lincoln MXK also will offer impressive options, including HD Radio with iTunes Tagging capability, Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support. There's also an ultimate Limited Edition waiting in the wings.

A new 3.7-liter direct-injected Duratec V6 replaces the previous 3.5-liter in both front-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the 2011 Lincoln MKX. Fitted with Ford's new Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT), it makes 305 horsepower -- 15 percent more than the old six -- and 280 lb-ft of torque -- a 12 percent bump -- but still leads all competitive V6s in fuel economy, and it runs on regular unleaded. Matched to an electronically controlled six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, this slick six also employs aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff, torque-based deceleration control and "smart charging" battery management control to further bolster its mileage-maxing capabilities.

Lincoln engineers improved the handling of the 2011 MKX by recalibrating its steering and suspension setups to retain ride comfort while delivering more precise control, particularly in cornering situations. Higher-grip tires and more efficient anti-lock brakes were also dialed into the new MKX mix, along with ancillary confidence boosters like Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control and Hydraulic Brake Assist.

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"With its combination of style, performance and uncompromising luxury, the Lincoln MKX has brought new customers into the Lincoln showroom in a way that very few products have before," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. "Lincoln customers tell us they care most about style and technology, and the new 2011 Lincoln MKX meets these needs perfectly." Over 50 percent of current MKX buyers are conquest sales, and it Kuzak is correct, that figure seems likely to move even higher in the months ahead.

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