While Volvo has been a bit of a mysterious brand, not fitting into any standard description, Volvo is moving towards becoming a true luxury brand these days. That means it is competing with Lincoln, the American luxury brand. Since the new XC90 is at the forefront of that transformation, let's take a look at how the XC90 compares to the 2017 Lincoln MKX.
Although it's technically a midsize luxury crossover, the Lincoln MKX looks very much like a full-size model if you don't have something near it to give it scale. This is a handsome, imposing design with more than its fair share of presence, and this second-generation is far more distinguished than the version that preceded it.
The Volvo XC90 is quite the opposite of the MKX as it's a seven-seat crossover that does a good job of hiding its real size. It's a new, bold design for Volvo that's quite a departure from what we expect an XC90 to look like, and it's probably not going to be to everyone's taste. For being more distinguished and less polarizing, the Lincoln MKX is our winner here.
Two V-6 powerplants are available with the 2017 Lincoln MKX, and the standard unit is a 3.7-liter unit developing 303 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. This engine offers a good amount of power with better fuel economy than the optional engine. That optional engine is a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 which gets you 335 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. Those stats are pretty impressive and well worth the extra $2,000 or so it costs to upgrade.
Volvo doesn't do anything bigger than a four-cylinder engine these days, so all three units available in the XC90 are four-pots. The standard T5 offers 250 horsepower, while the T6 ups the power ante to 316 horsepower. Unusually, but potentially a sign of what's to come, the hybrid system in the T8 is where the real power lies with an impressive 400 horsepower and 472 lb.-ft. This performance gives the Volvo a clear win here.
You only have five seats in the 2017 Lincoln MKX, which is a good thing if you don't need a third row, because it means extra space and considerable comfort for five people. The latest MKX is a big step up in quality, comfort, and luxury from its predecessor, with particular attention paid to noise-abating measures that work magnificently.
The interior of the Volvo makes a nice change from the somewhat functional and austere interiors of some similarly priced German models. But although it's a match in terms of comfort and quality for the Lincoln, it's let down by excessive levels of noise inside. This has to be another victory for the MKX.
You can find all the latest safety gizmos in the Lincoln MKX, but you might have to pay extra or go to the highest trim to get some of them. The Lincoln gets a full five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, while the IIHS names the MKX a Top Safety Pick.
Volvo used to be a byword for automotive safety, so it's somewhat surprising that the XC90 didn't ace the latest crash testing. Perhaps this shows that the company is looking to reinvent itself, but for those who are looking for the Volvo to massively outperform its rivals in safety, this is a disappointment. The XC90 does get the same ratings from the two main agencies as the Lincoln, though, but the higher expectations make this more of a blow for the Volvo.
Don't forget price. While the 2017 Lincoln MKX can be a little pricey if you load it up with some of the best features and equipment, the starting price for the Volvo XC90 is almost $7,000 more than the equivalent MKX. Take this into consideration, along with the MKX's more mainstream and distinguished styling as well as a more comfortable and quiet interior, and you can see why the 2017 Lincoln MKX is our clear choice.