The 2009 MKS is Lincoln's new flagship, a car that Ford hopes will help put its luxury division back on the map after years of losing ground to Cadillac and both Asian and European luxury brands. It effectively slots between the MKZ sedan (which was briefly known as the Zephyr) and the ancient Town Car, and it is the first production realization of Lincoln's new design direction. That design direction was first seen at the Detroit auto show in January 2007 with the Lincoln MKR concept car. While the MKR was nominally based on the Ford Mustang's rear-wheel-drive platform, though, the production MKS is offered either with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The MKS is on sale this summer, and Lincoln sees the Cadillac STS, the Acura RL, and the Lexus GS as its natural competitors.
The 2009 Lincoln MKS's double-wing grille is a derivation of the one from the Lincoln MKR concept and was inspired by the 1941 Lincoln Continental. Flanked here by standard HID headlamps, the grille is something you will definitely see in future Lincolns. Ford's design chief, Peter Horbury, says that the space between the two wings is the perfect spot to showcase the Lincoln badge without having it compete with a grille behind it. The delicate horizontal bands below the grille are good-looking and well-proportioned, but they are flanked by large, odd-looking cavities at the bottom corners of the car that contain the foglights. From the side, the MKS is most notable for its strong, chamfered shoulder line and its stainless steel window surround, which widens into a dramatic flourish as it meets the C-pillar. Not coincidentally, we imagine, that C-pillar treatment also invokes the famous C-pillar kink in BMW sedans. Thankfully, the space on the front fenders aft of the wheels is adorned simply and effectively with the Lincoln badge rather than the already-clichéd vents that we see elsewhere so often.
The rear of the car is elegant and spare but quite bland. It's here, though, that you most notice the strips of stainless steel that run from the A-pillars, over the car's roof, and down to the trunk lid. They are a nice touch. The LED taillights are accented by a vertical white light strip that contains the turn signal indicators, which look pretty cool when they're illuminated.
Depending on trim level and options, the MKS is shod either with standard eighteen-inch wheels or optional nineteen- or even twenty-inch wheels. Strangely, the twenty-inch wheels are the least attractive, as they look cheap and tinny.