I drew Lincoln’s flagship when I requested something, anything, with all wheels driving to get me through an impending storm. I foolishly drove the MKS into the teeth of a Michigan snow squall to attend a Cadillac-LaSalle Club meeting in a town an hour away. Much to my chagrin, this car ate up the slippery pavement and wriggled its way through slow-moving traffic as if it were equipped with spiked treads. Actually, it was equipped with ordinary all-season radials instead of the real winter tires that are most appropriate for our crappy weather. While accelerating from stoplights and while cruising at the speed limit, this car demonstrated impeccable traction and stability. During heavy throttle indulgences, the 355-hp EcoBoost V-6 causes the front wheels to hunt and peck for the right path, but that’s a minor fault considering the adverse circumstances I encountered. On several occasions, it struck me that a return to Colorado’s Loveland Pass in the dead of winter would be the real acid test for the MKS (see 6versus8.com). With EcoBoost eliminating the loss of power attributable to altitude and an all-wheel-drive system where the front wheels do most of the work, I think this car climbing a snow-covered mountain might finally overcome BMW’s 5-series (even one optioned up with awd).
My only gripe about this Lincoln: headrests cocked way too far forward that aren’t readily removable.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor
In terms of styling, the MKS moves the Lincoln brand in the right direction — that is, away from its dowdy recent past. It’s not beautiful, but in dark colors, it definitely has presence. There’s some drama inside as well, with nice, chocolate-colored leather seats and a swooping center console. And in the best Lincoln tradition, it’s supremely plush and comfortable. There are a few straggling flaws, such as the somewhat cheap-feeling switchgear, but overall it’s a good effort.
Unfortunately, the modernity of the sedan’s skin does not sink through to its driving dynamics. To be sure, there’s nothing dated about the twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 under the hood, but that strong engine is let down by lifeless steering, mushy brakes, and an ever-present sense of girth. No, not every luxury sedan needs to drive like a BMW 5-Series, but any sedan with hopes of attracting younger buyers should drive well. Competitors like the Buick LaCrosse, the Hyundai Genesis, and the Chrysler 300C have all found a better balance between sport and traditional luxury. And that’s the other problem. The cars I just mentioned all live in the $35,000 – $45,000 range. This loaded MKS hits the scales at $56,625. Of course, lowering the price would position the MKS way too close to its Ford sibling, the Taurus SHO, which tells me that there’s not enough room for both of these cars if they remain so similar.
Now that Ford is nearly finished clearing out its menagerie of premium brands, there’s strong reason to believe it will turn its full focus to restoring Lincoln to grandeur. Here’s hoping the MKS represents just the first step in that process.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Lincoln is the new Buick. As Buick reinvents itself with sporty new cars like the Regal GS, Lincoln is saddled with stodgy sedans that feel as large as SUVs. Meanwhile, Cadillac has (re)established itself as the premier American brand with the CTS and given the hint that it will continue that streak with the XTS once it comes to market. Since Mercury is the most neglected brand on the market this side of Saab (as of this writing, Saab is still technically alive), I’d expect Lincoln to have more compelling products.
I’m not of the opinion that Lincoln needs a sport sedan to captivate buyers, but a luxury sedan like the MKS could still have brakes that aren’t mushy, better sight lines, and go on a serious diet without giving up the luxury amenities. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a much larger car than the MKS, but it feels smaller behind the wheel. If luxury is the ultimate goal, the trunk opening needs to be addressed. I found the trunk opening to be an awkward size and height for loading groceries. I don’t think loading luggage for a trip would be very easy if four people were aboard.
What Ford really needs to do is abandon this dated platform that’s basically a gussied up Ford Five Hundred. I know it’s not cheap to start from scratch, but the amount of time and energy required to transform these underpinnings into a worthwhile platform simply isn’t worth it. Capitalize on the predicted success of the Fusion and the Fiesta and build a large car worth aspiring to.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
David and Phil bring up some valid points, yet I can’t totally dismiss the Lincoln MKS. I certainly wouldn’t put it in the category of a BMW 5-series, Audi A6, or Mercedes-Benz E-Class as far as overall wonderment and cachet are concerned, but MKS owners needn’t be ashamed of their cars, which truly are quite nice. However, the upcoming Cadillac XTS, not to mention the Hyundai Genesis sedan, should seriously worry the folks at Ford.
The MKS is nice, yes, but I was disappointed by the amount of road and wind noise that intruded into our test car’s cabin. I also thought that the brown interior leather on the dash top, seats, and door panels clashes with the black elsewhere in the interior (dashboard, carpets, etc), but I know that others on staff absolutely loved that color combo. Otherwise, though, I found the interior trimmings to be above average, but not class-leading, for a $50,000 luxury car.
The EcoBoosted V-6 certainly has plenty of power on demand, but for some reason, it doesn’t feel as impressive in this car as it does in the blockier, 550-pound-heavier Ford Flex. The MKS’s ride can be harsh at times on Michigan’s frost-heaved roads, but the handling is much tighter than owners of old Continentals and Town Cars would expect. That’s not saying a whole lot, but I was pleased to discover that, on snowy roads, the all-wheel-drive system can be coaxed into a rear-biased attitude if you flick the car into a curve, drifting mildly until the electronics reel you back in.
A couple final notes: Sync seems to recognize voice commands better now than when it initially came out a few years back. The capacious trunk held all of my family’s New Year’s gear, but loading things through the narrow opening was a bit challenging, as Phil mentioned.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I think I’m less offended by the MKS EcoBoost than I am its Taurus SHO cousin — mostly because the marketing folks at Ford’s premier brand aren’t trying to insist it’s the reincarnation of a heralded sport sedan. As Phil and David have noted, it isn’t: it’s a large car (big enough, potentially, to appease the Town Car and Crown Vic crowd), albeit one packed with a stellar twin-turbocharged V-6.
I’m not necessarily convinced this D3 platform — which is largely derived from the original Volvo S80 — needs to die altogether. Until Ford can build a case for building a new large Lincoln from scratch, the current car could be much improved by adding weight to the steering rack and improving its feel, stiffening the suspension, and — more than anything — adding extra bite to the brake system.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
2010 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost
Base price (with destination): $48,285
Price as tested: $56,625
Adaptive HID headlights
Heated power mirrors
Easy fuel capless fuel system
Sirius satellite radio
SYNC voice activated system
Heated and cooled front seats
Heated rear seats
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Securicode keyless entry
Rear parking sensors
Side and side curtain airbags
SOS post-crash system
Options on this vehicle:
Rapid spec 201A – $3500
– Dual panel moonroof
– Voice activated navigation
– Rearview camera
Premium sound system
Active park assist – $535
Adaptive cruise control – $1310
EcoBoost appearance package – $2995
– 20-inch chrome cast aluminum wheels
– Interior metallic trim
– Exterior body kit
Key options not on vehicle:
17 / 25 / 20 mpg
Size: 3.5L twin-turbocharged direct-injection V-6
Horsepower: 355 hp @ 5700 rpm
Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Weight: 4276 lb
20-inch chrome wheels
245/45 all-season tires