2009 Lincoln MKS

A lot has been said, including in these pages, about the styling of Lincoln's new MKS sedan. Naturally, much of the commentary has focused on which particular aesthetic features the MKS did - a big, double-wing grille centered by the Lincoln badge - and did not - a windshield that sweeps, headerless, up over the front seats - inherit from Lincoln's gorgeous 2007 MKR four-door concept car. But what definitely didn't make the transition from the auto-show floor to the showroom floor is something you cannot see: the MKR's rear-wheel-drive chassis. Instead, the MKS is built on the front-wheel-drive foundation of the Ford Taurus (née Five Hundred), which itself is derived from the Volvo S80.

So, with the MKS, Lincoln is thumbing its nose at the luxury-car tide that has moved inexorably toward rear-wheel drive. Determined to make the most of the family-sedan platform they were given, Lincoln engineers fashioned an entirely new, control-arm rear suspension, partly to accommodate optional twenty-inch wheels. They also attached both front and rear suspensions to fully isolated subframes. And, of course, they specified an optional all-wheel-drive system, a feature that no midprice luxury sedan can do without these days.

The MKS is good, but hardly groundbreaking, to drive. On a ribbon of blacktop that undulated through Virginia horse country, the MKS exhibited decent body control and bump suppression, precise if not overly communicative steering, and smooth shifting from the six-speed automatic, which can be operated manually via the gearshift lever. The brakes work fine, but the pedal goes soft when you really stomp on it during hard driving. The cabin is whisper-quiet, and our test vehicle with twenty-inch wheels rode well, although it became slightly unsettled over freeway expansion joints. Eighteen- and nineteen-inch footwear also is available.

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