2009 Lincoln MKS

Equipment/Cabin

Lincoln boasts that the MKS is comprehensively and luxuriously equipped. Every modern telematics feature is either standard or optional, including a state-of-the-art navigation system with traffic reports supplied by Sirius Satellite Radio. Remember the push-button-entry feature that debuted years ago on Lincolns? It returns here, but now instead of cheesy buttons that protrude from the sheetmetal, there are heat-sensitive, backlit numerals integrated into the B-pillar, and they become visible only after you run your hand over them.

The instrument panel is trimmed in a wide swath either of ebony, olive ash, or genuine aluminum. In a nod to Lincoln's heritage, the leather is supplied by Bridge of Weir, the same Scottish company that supplied hides for the Continental Mark II way back when. Lincoln says it is the "softest leather ever used in a Lincoln." It's nice, and it does have a slightly richer hand feel than much of the plasticized leather you see these days, but it doesn't have much of that pleasing leather smell that you get in more expensive cars. Both heated and cooled front seats are available, as are heated rear seats. Interior panel tolerances are good, and the plastics are good quality. The secondary switches for radio and climate are a little on the cheap side, though, with a vast array of little black rectangular buttons that look more like they belong in a Ford than in a Lincoln. The primary gauges are nicely lit, but they are pretty ho-hum, too. Optional dual moonroofs flood the cabin with light. The center armrest is split into two sections that move individually with the driver's right elbow and the front passenger's left elbow, which is convenient.

The optional, 600-watt, sixteen-speaker THX II 5.1 surround sound stereo is absolutely superb, and the interface for controlling it through the high-resolution navigation screen is top-notch. Ford's Sync system, which allows you to control an iPod or any other MP3 music player and a Bluetooth cell phone through voice activation, is standard. The Sirius Travel Link system can also provide nearby gas-station prices, movie listings, sports scores, and other real-time information through the navigation screen, which is the virtual command center of the vehicle.

Total passenger volume is a substantial 105.9 cubic feet, and the trunk is rated at 18.4 cubic feet.

Powertrain/Suspension

The standard engine is a 3.7-liter derivation of the 3.5-liter V-6 that is widely used across the Ford and Lincoln lineups. For now, at least, the 3.7-liter is exclusive to the MKS, where it makes 273 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque on regular fuel. If you run on premium fuel, you can eke out a couple more horsepower and a bit more torque, but it hardly seems worth it. Those thirsty for V-8-style power will have to wait until next spring, when the MKS will be the first recipient of Ford's new, twin-turbo, direct-injection, 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which Lincoln promises will deliver the "performance of a V-8 with the fuel efficiency of a V-6." With 340 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque but an estimated 23 mpg on the freeway, it will be the first offering under Ford's new "EcoBoost" powertrain program. Adaptive cruise control is optional.

The MKS platform is a derivation of the one that underpins the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable sedans, which itself came from the Volvo S80. A lot of work has been done to it to deliver a more premium ride-and-handling experience and also to accommodate the additional power as well as the larger wheels and tires. Stability control is standard. Lincoln engineers benchmarked the Lexus GS chassis as they developed an all-new rear suspension for the MKS. The front suspension is also modified from Ford/Mercury duty.

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