2009 Lincoln MKS

Lincoln bored out Ford's corporate 3.5-liter V-6 to 3.7 liters for MKS duty, and the resulting 275 hp (with premium fuel; power drops to 273 hp if you choose lower octane) was enough, but just enough, to propel our 4276-pound, all-wheel-drive test car. Fuel economy for the AWD MKS is rated at 16/23 mpg; we averaged about 18 mpg over the course of a day's driving on freeways and two-lane. For now, the 3.7-liter is the only powertrain option, but Lincoln is developing a direct-injected, twin-turbocharged version of the 3.5-liter V-6 that should produce about 340 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque. The division wisely will pair this promising new powertrain only with all-wheel drive in the MKS. Unfortunately, it won't be available until spring 2009.

Here and accounted for now, though, are the MKS's plentiful creature comforts. The roomy cabin is handsomely appointed with nice leather (from the same Scottish supplier that did the 1956 Continental Mark II, no less), fit and finish are commendable, and dual moonroofs are optional. The available touch-screen navigation system is top-notch, the Sync phone/audio interface is standard, and the optional 600-watt, THX II Certified 5.1 surround-sound stereo will rock your world.

Over the past decade, as Cadillac has gone from strength to strength, the Lincoln brand has wavered, to put it kindly. Lincoln's struggle to redefine itself is hardly over, but the MKS is a promising addition to the brand. A pleasant enough car now, it ought to come into its own next year with the twin-turbo V-6. After all, Lincoln promises that it will offer the performance of a V-8 with the fuel economy of a V-6, and there's a lot to be said for that.

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