Review: 2010 Lincoln MKS

"This car is a spaceship," my son informed me, in the matter-of-fact tone he always uses when presenting knowledge imparted by commercials. I expect that he's somewhat outside the target demographic -- he's nine -- but his awareness is at least an indicator that Lincoln's message is filling the airwaves. And while that message is an obvious overstatement, the tech-laden MKS is undeniably the poster child for a big push underway at Lincoln, and parent company Ford as well. You'd be forgiving for thinking that CEO and recent Seattle transplant Alan Mulally had been plucked from Microsoft rather than Boeing.

Of course, the Microsoft-cobranded Sync system is on hand. It takes a couple minutes to connect your phone the first time, but afterwards it connects automatically. There sometimes is a bit of a delay in Sync-facilitated phone conversations, but even so, the hands-free calling feature works well enough that it ends up encouraging cell-phone use while driving -- probably not a great thing. There are no real downsides to the other techno-wonders: the rearview camera, the keyless ignition, the navigation system, the active cruise control with collision warning, and the automated park assist.

The last one may be little more than a novelty to those who live and work in the exurbs, where opportunities for parallel parking are few, but those who do have occasion to use it will find it works remarkably well. It scans for and finds the space, then you shift into reverse and work the pedals while it spins the wheel. It's far quicker and less fussy than the system on the Lexus LS.

The navigation system is also one of the best out there, and is able to incorporate weather and traffic info - although we found that its color-coded traffic info sometimes put a highly positive spin on things. We loved the ability to easily configure the large display to show a half-size map with satellite radio info on the other side, or a full-size map that still manages to squeeze in music info at the bottom.

The pre-collision warning system only kicked in once, and the huge, flashing red warning that appears in the windshield is pretty hard to miss. Similar to technology available in Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and others, it scans ahead to see if you're closing in fast on a car ahead; if so, it sounds a warning and pre-loads the brakes to shorten the stopping distance.

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