When I first started writing car reviews for the Toronto Star, my editor told me, “You have to drive everything.” He meant not just the cars that auto reviewers usually love, such as sports cars and luxury performance sedans. So I did and I do, from the early crude Smart Cars, to the cheap but charming Nissan Micra, to the head swelling C63 AMG Mercedes. I will declare that my affection leans toward sports cars, luxury performance vehicles and compacts and sub compacts. The least appealing and most baffling (to me) category I test is SUV’s.

SUV’s and compact CUV’s (cross over vehicles) are hot sellers around the world. So that makes many auto journalists out of step with consumers. We do not understand the appeal of “sitting up high.” Advocates say they like the high view because they can see down the road. My response is stop tailgating so trouble can be spotted before you run into it, or for a real panoramic view, take the GO bus. SUV fans also say they need the cargo and passenger space. Well most of the SUV’s I see driving around are as empty as the UP Express train to Pearson Airport.

It will not surprise you to read my opinion of test driving the Lincoln MKX SUV. I felt like I was driving round in a fat suit.

Though it’s classed as a mid-sized SUV, it felt bigger, maybe even bloated.

My opinion of the MKX is in the minority, most reviews give it a pleasant nod. I agree with some of their findings, like the seats are comfortable, there’s lots of room for people and packing, it’s quiet and the V6 engine is an eager performer.

The red marking pen comes out though when it comes to functionality of dashboard tech. On the centre console the buttons for heat, defrost, fan speed and so on were very difficult to read. The print was grey on grey, and add to that reflection from daylight and it was a guessing game to decipher what was printed on the button. Other computer screen functions controlled by the MyLincoln Touch system were more finicky than they should have been and slow to load.

My test MKX was $67,590, the starting price is $45,890. Expensive options including a $5,500 luxury package, explain the puffed up price.

With an exterior style that is bland trending to homely, and on road performance that is workmanlike, but not engaging, the Lincoln MXK is an underachiever in a category that is populated by better looking and more fun to drive vehicles. The utility vehicle winner in the Lincoln lineup is the smaller MKC which puts together looks and handling in a much better package.

The week after I tested the MKX, I picked up the Ranger Rover Evoque for evaluation. Granted it is a smaller SUV but it feels connected to the road, responsive and zesty in its driving performance, and the design is youthful.

During the week with the Evoque we had our only major winter snowstorm of the year. As I crept down Plains Road (the Evoque was not fitted winter tires) the first accident I saw was two SUV’s crunched into each other at an intersection. So here’s another thing people forget, just because an SUV might have all-wheel drive, it doesn’t stop any faster on slippery roads, especially without winter tires.

So the SUV and CUV love-fest will continue to grow, but I’ll keep my loyalty and love for cars-sporty ones, little ones, ones that are agile, engaging and fin to drive.

Written by: Kathy Renwald

Providing a fresh perspective for Hamilton and Burlington

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