Lincoln has unveiled a thorough refresh of its two large passenger car models, the 2013 MKT crossover and 2013 MKS sedan, at the 2011 LA auto show. The new Lincoln grille serves as a showcase of the design direction of the brand moving forward, while enhancements to the suspension, powertrain, and interior aim to improve overall refinement and performance.
Both the MKS and MKT feature a new front fascia with a new grille design, with every exterior surface from the A-pillar forward being new on the 2013 Lincoln MKS sedan. The MKS also features new LED taillamps, and a new decklid design to help improve trunk access. New 19- and 20-inch wheel designs for the MKS round out the exterior changes.
The headlining technical feature for both the MKS and MKT for 2013 is the introduction of Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD). The feature is standard on all MKS models, and standard on MKT models equipped with the optional EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 engine. CCD utilizes 46 inputs to feed data to an electronic control unit that continuously monitors 23,000 packets of information per second. From that input, the system calculates the optimal damping force up to 500 times per second. Actual mechanical adjustments to the damping happen between 20 to 50 times per second, depending on conditions.
Because of the quick response time, Lincoln claims the system can essentially act preemptively, recognizing when the vehicle is about to encounter a pothole, and tighten damper control to prevent excessive wheel and tire crash, resulting in a less-jarring event. The system also uses inputs from the front wheels to adjust rear damping accordingly. Lincoln claims CCD helps reduce body roll by up to 20 percent and understeer by approximately 25 percent, resulting in a tighter, more responsive driving experience.
CCD is also a key enabling technology for the other big change on the two models, called Lincoln Drive Control. The system has three settings: Normal, Comfort, and Sport. The Normal (default) mode balances ride comfort with control and handling for an optimal everyday driving experience.
Sport mode tightens the dampers, re-calibrates the electric power-assisted steering, adjusts throttle responsiveness, changes shift points to a higher rpm, holds gears longer while cornering, and locks out sixth gear. In addition, traction control and stability control settings are changed to allow for more spirited driving.
At the other end of the driving spectrum, the Comfort mode adjusts the dampers to 10- to 15-percent softer than normal, and reduces steering effort.
Also new for 2013 is the Lane Keeping System. Activated by the driver, the system utilizes a forward-facing camera mounted behind the rearview mirror to look for lane markers. When the system determines the vehicle is wandering out of its lane, a vibration is sent through the steering wheel to alert the driver. Lane Keeping Aid, another component of the system, gently adds torque to the steering wheel to nudge the vehicle back into the center of the lane if it detects the vehicle is too close to the edge of the lane. Sensitivity settings are driver-adjustable through the MyLincoln Touch interface.
The 3.5 liter EcoBoost turbocharged V-6 carries over unchanged, but the standard 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V-6 gets a power boost to 300 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque for both models, up 32 hp for the MKT and 27 for the MKS, thanks to the addition of twin independent variable camshaft timing. The highway fuel economy rating for the 3.7-liter engine is also improved by 3 mpg on the MKS and 1 mpg on the MKT.
Of most interest to enthusiasts, the brakes on the 2013 MKS and MKT grow by more than an inch in front and more than a half-inch in the rear, to 13.86 inches front, 13.58 inches rear. Rear discs are now vented rather than solid rotors, and front discs feature a unique vented "hat," a feature typically found in exotic two-piece high-performance braking systems. Finally, the steering ratio is quickened from 17.1:1 to 15:1 for greater responsiveness. Previously standard only on EcoBoost models, electric power assist steering is now standard on all models, regardless of engine.
The Sync system, which has recently become a distinguishing feature of newer Ford and Lincoln models, gets an improved voice interface powered by Nuance. Larger, bolder fonts and a simplified screen design make the interface easier to read. Sync also allows the interior of the vehicle to become a WiFi hotspot when linked to a data-enabled cellular device.
A new option for both the MKS and MKT for 2013 is a heated steering wheel. The MKS features new interior woods, Prussian Burl and Brown Swirl Walnut, and two new leather colors, Hazelnut and Light Dune. Both models feature organically tanned Bridge of Weir leather sourced from Scotland.
Both models will be on sale in dealerships by spring 2012.