Editors’ Choice Vehicle Technology
2011 Ford/Lincoln Vehicle Technology
Review by Angie Kibiloski (January 2011)
Cars have come a long way in the last few years, with advancements in safety, comfort, and technology. Recently, I had the privilege to drive a 2011 Lincoln MKX for a week, and am excited about sharing my experience with the new technology inside the Lincoln and Ford family of vehicles. Three distinct categories of features were most impressive: the MyFord Touch or MyLincoln Touch user interface, which allows a driver to control every system in the car with just a touch or voice command; the safety features like the blind spot sensor; and the little creature comforts and conveniences, which make driving just a little bit nicer. All of these features combine to make the MKX, and its cousins, a step above the competition.
The MyFord Touch or MyLincoln Touch system, which does not come standard but can be added to many of the 2011 Ford and Lincoln models, consists of a large touch screen in the dashboard center. It is conveniently organized into 4 main systems sections: audio, GPS, climate control, and phone. The menu and control screens for each feature are easy to understand and navigate. You can also navigate through some of the controls for these 4 areas with an arrow pad on the steering wheel, if you can’t conveniently reach over to touch the screen. Below the touch screen, there are more classic control buttons for the climate and audio system, with touch sensitive temperature and volume bars. All of this together makes interacting with the car feel very organic and user friendly. Then, there is the Sync system, which allows you to sync up your phone with the car, and not only make calls through the car audio system, but also play your phone’s music collection. Whether from your phone, the optional SIRIUS radio, or a CD, all your music will sound amazing through the superior audio system, which is THX certified in the Lincoln models, and Sony in the Ford models.
The safety features available in these vehicles go well beyond the excellent structural protection, and several really impressed me. I liked the rear view camera system, which activates on the touch screen when you put the car in reverse. Not only does it show what is behind you, it also has a sensor that will gauge how close you’re coming to anything in your path, like a wall or another car. The beeping gets faster and eventually stays constant when you are about to get too close, and arrows on the screen that go from green to yellow to red show you visually how much further you can back up.
Another cool addition is the BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross Traffic Alert. If something enters your blind spot, on either side of the car, a light will illuminate in the corner of your rear view mirror to let you know. The Cross Traffic Alert feature uses the blind spot monitoring sensors to audibly and visually alert you to another vehicle approaching from either side while you are slowly backing out of a driveway or parking spot.
My favorite feature, though, is the smart adaptive cruise control. Not only can you set the cruise speed you want, and bump it up or down one mph at a time, very easily with the touch of a button, you can also set the gap you want to keep between you and any cars that gets in front of you. This may not sound like much, but when you’re driving on a 5-hour road trip and you don’t need to touch the pedals during your time on the highway, this is a hugely appreciated feature. So, say you set your cruise control to 65, and you’re coming up to a truck that’s going slower. Typically, you would have to pump the brake and slow down, pass it, then put your cruise control back on. Not when you’re using the gap feature. When you are approaching a car in front of you, the smart cruise control will automatically slow you down to the speed of that car once you have reached the cushion of space you set the gap to. If you pass the car, or the car moves, your smart system will boost your speed back up to what you have it set to. Amazing! It is as close to a car driving itself as I have seen. All we need now is a sensor to keep the car inside the lines of the lane and we won’t even need to steer. I would choose to add all of these features to my new car.
Comfort wise, the MKX, and some other models, can have separate driver and passenger climate control, as well as heated seats. The driver can get even more luxury with a heated steering wheel and the option to cool their seat as well. It’s surprising how much nicer a warm drive through the desert can be with an air conditioned seat. The adjustable lumbar support cushion is fantastic, as well as the very customizable seat adjustments for height, distance from the steering wheel, chair back position, and even chair tilt. Once you have the seat just how you like it, there are two pre-set buttons for you to store your favorite position and one other person’s. This way, a husband and wife can readjust the seat for themselves with the push of one button. The Lincoln MKX has a front and a rear sun roof, so everyone can enjoy the open air. The hatch back opens and closes itself with the touch of a button on the key remote, which is extra handy when hauling groceries or luggage to the car.
The car itself is keyless, locking and unlocking with just the remote, or even when you get the remote close enough to the driver’s door. You start the car simply by pressing a button on the dash. I know this isn’t the first car to have remote entry and one button ignition, but these are really fun features. You can also use the remote to start the vehicle, up to 300 feet away. Once started, your vehicle’s climate settings will keep the vehicle cabin comfortable, and set to your personal preferences.
Its the little things that make all the difference when choosing a car, little things you never knew you needed but now don’t want to live without. I’ll admit that it was hard to give up the car at the end of my week. There are improvements that I could suggest, but that holds true with any vehicle, and they are things particular to individual tastes and comforts. The technology in the 2011 Ford and Lincoln vehicles is impressive, and shows just how far we’ve come with vehicle advancements. Since I drove the Lincoln MKX and, with the assistance of our technology editor, tested all of the noted features, I can really only speak to our experience and enjoyment of this one particular model. But, considering these features are available to add to many of the other Lincoln and Ford models, I have to give the entire new line my thumbs up. Ford has had some bad press over the years, but having driven one of its sister cars, I might just be making a vehicle from this line my next new car. Go and take a test drive in the MKX, or any of the 2011 lines from Lincoln or Ford, and see for yourself how all of the cool comforts and tech features can make you a Ford/Lincoln fan like me.