2009 Lincoln MKS Expert Review:Autoblog
The 2009 Lincoln MKS may be the marque's last chance at establishing a distinct image after two decades of struggling to find its identity. At one time Lincoln, like its counterparts at Cadillac, stood apart from lesser vehicles with unique styling, powertrains and features that clearly delineated its place in the automotive hierarchy. Not that Mark IVs, Vs and VIs were high-water marks in design, but at least when you saw one rolling down the road, you knew you were looking at a Lincoln.
But the Continentals of the '80s marked the onset of Lincoln's utterly forgettable image, and when Ford went on a buying binge in the late '80s with Jaguar, continuing through the '90s with Volvo, Aston Martin, and Land Rover, the waters began to be seriously muddied. The creation of the Premier Automotive Group, which bundled all the premium brands together, did nothing to help Lincoln's outlook, so Ford's in-house luxury brand needed a fresh start. With the dissolution of PAG, Peter Horbury and the team went back to the drawing board to define a look that would shout "Lincoln!" for years to come. Read on to find out if the MKS succeeds.
Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
In the PAG years, Ford management didn't seem to have any idea of what they wanted Lincoln to be. Perhaps Lincoln's best shot at moving up the ranks was the LS, which actually came about from the desire to produce a new mid-sized Jaguar and have the American brand compete with lower end BMWs and Audis. But the non-descript styling and limited power (after all, it did have to stay a notch below Jaguar) meant it never really got the attention it deserved. When the life cycle of the LS expired, Lincoln was left without a clear successor. The Zephyr/MKZ didn't advance the styling bar, and it's Fusion-based architecture didn't fit the profile.
The 2009 MKS is one of those rare cars that actually improves upon its conceptual predecessor shown in 2006, and is the first production model to adopt the new cues that first appeared on last year's MKR concept. Unfortunately, most of the MKS was already locked in by the time the well received MKR was finished. The only significant design aspect to make it to production was the grille, but that may well be the most important element. For the first time in decades Lincoln has a face that stands out in a crowd and isn't an embarrassment.
The rest of the car is handsome and clean, if not spectacular. The belt-line rises towards the back and helps to hide its tall stance. As you're likely already aware, the MKS is derived from the same Volvo-based platform as the Taurus/Sable/Taurus X and Flex. At a distance it doesn't look large, but once you get up close you're struck by the MKS's height. The roof-line extends a full four inches taller than a Cadillac STS and 4.5 inches more than the Lexus ES350.
Like the Taurus, you sit tall in the MKS, which makes ingress and egress easy, but doesn't really enhance the idea of a sport sedan. The MKS' doors are cut down into the rocker panels and the skins wrap underneath, which makes stepping in and out easier. It doesn't seem like a big thing, but it does make a difference. Having the rocker panels covered should also keep them cleaner, meaning less chance of getting your pants dirty from road salt in the winter time.
In spite of the high seating position, the rising belt-line still leaves some of the "sitting in a bath tub" effect. If you like to drive around on nice days with the window rolled down, you won't feel comfortable resting your elbow on the window sill. However, the upright seating makes the MKS feel exceptionally roomy front and back. The seats are comfortable and supportive while offering all the adjustments you need, and when exterior temperatures deviate from optimal comfort levels, heated and cooled front seats keep your backside in cozy climes.
Last year, when Ford debuted the Sync system that included USB and line-in inputs with voice controls for auxiliary devices, it proved very popular. For 2009, Sync is being augmented with a new interface to the navigation system and Sirius Travel Link. Travel Link gets real time traffic data from the satellite radio system and can automatically re-route you to avoid backups. It also provides lots of information like sports scores, movie listings and guidance to the cheapest gas prices. Ford's voice control system is actually the most reliable and robust of any that we've tried so far. It recognizes commands the majority of the time and even accepts combinations of commands such as "Destination - POI." The new user interface is probably one of the easiest to navigate and makes BMW's iDrive look like a bad joke.
Overall, the interior design is clean and well laid out. The center stack is straightforward with audio and climate control buttons, including the heated and chilled front seats. The rear quarters are also thermally enhanced, but the occupants will have to rely on air flow to reduce temperatures. The nicely padded front center arm-rest is split down the middle and each side can be individually adjusted to suit the position of the occupant's elbow. One flaw we found with the center stack design is the section ahead of the shifter and below the climate controls which is emblazoned with "Lincoln" and would make an excellent storage compartment. However, the panel is fixed and our mobile phone was forced to reside in our pant pocket.
On the road, the behavior of the MKS belies its size, but the steering has no dead spots and the responses are reasonably precise. While the MKS and Flex are derived from the Taurus architecture, it's been heavily reworked, and to good effect. Changes were necessary to provide a decent ride with the 245/45R20 tire/wheel package. The short sidewalls alone wouldn't do much for on-road compliance, but the new suspension setup does a good job of allowing the wheels to soak up the battered and bruised pavement that comprises most of Michigan roads.
The 3.7L V6 is adequate for motivating the 4,127-pound sedan, but it probably won't set enthusiast hearts alight. The six-speed automatic is the same 6F50 unit used in other big Fords and co-developed with GM. Each company produced its own control software for the transmission and the team in Dearborn seems to have done a better job calibrating the shift smoothness. Ford applications consistently have seamless shifts at either full or part throttle, while the GM vehicles tend to be more jarring.
Most newer automatic transmission vehicles are saddled with a lackadaisical shift response when set in normal Drive mode, undoubtedly calibrated to optimize the EPA mileage numbers. Thankfully, popping the shift lever in Sport mode has a dramatic effect. Shifts are sharper, although still smooth, occurring at higher revs with downshifts occurring promptly with a stab of the go pedal. Tapping the shift lever to the right enables manual shifts that happen when you ask for them.
At just over $47,000 as tested, including the dual panel moon-roof, all-wheel-drive and the 20-inch wheel package, the MKS isn't cheap. However, it is competitive in price with some of the stalwarts of the luxury set and finally brings some style to the Lincoln line-up. On the off chance that you might have some 5.1 audio DVDs in your collection, you'll be glad that you opted for the THX-II certified surround audio system. Ford includes a sampler disk in the car that features Pink Floyd's Money and it sounded absolutely incredible.
Beginning in about April 2009, Lincoln will begin offering the 3.5L twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 in the MKS which should dramatically improve performance. Given the trajectory of gas prices right now, you may want to wait for a smaller four-cylinder EcoBoost engine to replace the V6s, although if you're spending near $50K on a luxury sedan, the 19 mpg we saw in mixed driving conditions may not bother you too much. For now, the MKS is a great start to the revive Lincoln and hopefully, it won't be long before we see models that incorporate all the elements that appeared on last year's MKR concept.
Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
click above for high-res gallery of the 2009 Lincoln MKS
Every year, carmakers collectively trot out dozens of new concept vehicles at auto shows around the world. Some fraction of those end up making their way to production lines and onto the streets. Most of the exciting design ideas, however, get heavily watered down in the process of going from auto show stand to showroom. One notable exception is the new Lincoln MKS. When the original MKS concept turned up in 2006, it was basically a slightly fancied up version of the then-new Ford Five Hundred, and it was not warmly received.
In a pleasant change of direction, Ford took the lukewarm reception for the concept to heart and by the time the production version of the MKS appeared at the LA Auto Show last November, it had been transformed. Unlike the "so what" appearance of the concept, the production model elicited much stronger opinions. Some hated it, others loved it. Regardless of how you feel about the new look, it is now a fact of life. The MKS began emerging from Ford's Chicago assembly plant a few weeks ago and Ford invited us down to Washington DC to sample it on the road. Read our driving impressions and check out a video of Peter Horbury's walk-around tour of the new 2009 Lincoln MKS after the jump.
Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
Through the course of 2006, as the production MKS was being refined in the Lincoln Design Studio, Gordon Platto and other designers were also working on the MKR concept that debuted at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. The team had identified a list of design elements that would define Lincoln's new design language. The most obvious element was the split-wing grille that hearkens back to Lincolns of the '30s and '40s such as the Zephyr and Continental. At that point, it was already too late to change the main body panels of the MKS. However, the team was so pleased with what they had wrought on the MKR, they made the late decision to apply the new face of Lincoln to the MKS.
It was a wise move. On the road, the new MKS has far more presence than any production Lincoln in years, including the late lamented LS. The MKS used the Five Hundred/Taurus platform as a starting point, but a lot has changed under the skin. The suspension has been heavily revised in order to handle the increased power and torque, as well as manage the motion of larger wheels and tires. The MKS has 18-inch wheels as standard equipment with 19- and 20-inch combinations available as options.
The basic Macpherson strut layout of the Taurus has been retained but the geometry has been modified to help minimize the effects of pushing 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque through the front wheels. The new geometry actually adds some anti-lift capability, as well. This works by using the reactive forces in the front end structure of the car during acceleration to help resist the tendency of the front end to lift up. The componentry that manages the motions of the rear wheels is more significantly changed. While the multi-link rear suspension still has an upper control arm along with lower trailing, toe and lateral links, all the pieces are new.
The mounting of the rear dampers in the MKS has also been moved further outboard toward the wheels. Moving the dampers closer to the wheels allows for greater travel, thus improving their effectiveness. The extra travel allows greater latitude for the engineers to tune the damping behavior for the optimum balance between comfort and handling. All of this helps maintain the ride quality that luxury car buyers expect while providing better handling and road holding with the 20-inch wheel/tire combo. On the road all of this works remarkably well.
We started off our first drive in the MKS from an Alexandria, VA Lincoln dealership in an all-wheel-drive model. The car was finished in a color dubbed Tuxedo Black. Unlike a typical metallic finish that is impregnated with metal particles, the Tuxedo finish uses tiny glass beads. When the light hits it right, it truly shimmers, much like the mystic paint that was used on mid-90s Mustang Cobras. We were able to see one car in light that was similar to what you get during the magic hour later in the day or early morning, and it truly looked spectacular and expensive.
Our car was fitted with the 20-inch wheel and tire package that uses 245/45R20 Michelin tires. At launch, all MKS sedans will be fitted with the new 3.7L version of the V6 used in other large Fords, Lincolns and the Mercury Sable. The 3.7L is rated for running on regular unleaded, which gives it an output of 273 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. If you choose to drop the extra cash on premium petrol, you'll be rewarded with an extra 2 hp and 6 lb-ft, a difference you're unlikely to notice on the road. Around March or April of 2009, the new EcoBoost V6 will become available in the MKS that will provide 340 hp and an equal number of lb-ft of twist. Power gets sent primarily to the front wheels via the same 6F50 six-speed automatic transmission used with the 3.5L V6 in other applications. The only difference in the MKS is the final drive ratio in the all-wheel-drive model.
The front-wheel-drive versions all get a 3.16:1 final drive, while the AWD Taurus uses a 2.77:1 ratio. The AWD MKS we drove had a shorter 3.39:1 ratio. Up to 25 percent of the drive torque goes to the rear axle as determined by an electronically controlled clutch pack. The rear torque is limited to keep the size of the drive shaft and rear axle down. Unlike some similar systems that rely on front wheel slip to trigger torque transfer, this one factors in throttle position and acceleration to send tractive effort rearward before the front wheels slip.
The ride route took us through a mix of urban, highway and rural driving from Alexandria to the Prince Michel Winery in Leon, VA. After a break at the winery, we continued on a loop that eventually brought us back to Georgetown in DC. One aspect of the MKS that was immediately apparent was the sense of quiet in the cabin. The side glass is laminated with two layers of glass sandwiching a layer of plastic. Even with serenity, it wasn't completely isolated the way that some Lexus models have been over the years. Just enough of the outside gets through to remind you that it's still there without intruding on the sense of calm. Driving along in urban traffic alongside a noisy truck, the noise was almost completely blocked out.
That calm isn't disturbed by the action at the road either. Even with low profile rubber on those big wheels, occupants don't take a beating. On some rough pavement that included sudden changes in road elevation and construction zones, the new suspension setup proved its worth. The changes in the rear allowed the engineers to tune in more rebound control over gaps and potholes. Essentially, they found that having the wheel resist the urge to follow the pavement downward to quickly and almost float over the gap provided a much smoother ride. At the same time, the jounce control allows even the heavy 20-inch rims to move up and out of the bumps. The real test will of course come in a couple of weeks when the MKS arrives in our Michigan-based Autoblog Garage for a full review. Then we'll find out how well this all really works.
Other aspects of the car's dynamics also appeared to work quite well. Some of the roads on our route were of the type best left to serious sports cars, but the big Lincoln remained thoroughly composed even where the pavement was still damp from storms that had passed a short time earlier. The MKS, at least with the current engine, doesn't really qualify as a sports sedan and Lincoln identifies its chief competitors as the Cadillac STS and Lexus GS. The MKS certainly felt on a par with the Cadillac, although we haven't tried the GS lately. Through the curves, at around eight-tenths, the big black Lincoln didn't really exhibit any noticeable understeer and if the stability control did activate, it wasn't at all intrusive.
Speaking of those storms, we had our drive on Wednesday June 4 when a series of severe thunderstorms swept through the region and at least one tornado is thought to have touched down. As we were on the second leg of the route, we could see the storms in the distance so we brought up the weather map using the Sirius travel link on the nav system. Sure enough, it showed all the storms in the immediate area pretty much live. We managed to miss the brunt of the storms, but we did get into some scattered rain. I set the intermittent wipers on their lowest setting to try out the Rain-Sense system. Sure enough, as the volume of rain picked up, so too did the interval shorten and they eventually went into normal continuous mode. As the rain stopped, so did the wipers. No more dry wipers dragging across the windshield.
As we made our way down one debris strewn road, other Lincolns appeared heading the opposite direction flashing their lights at us. Apparently a tree was blocking the road ahead, so we swung around and decided that based on the conditions it might be wiser to just make a bee-line straight for D.C. and skip the rest of the route. The voice commands for the nav worked quite well until both my driving partner and I tried to give commands at the same time, which left it befuddled. At that point I let him enter the destination while I tried to avoid fallen trees.
Overall, the MKS proved to be a very capable cruiser that didn't object at all to some back road thrashing. The only thing that might be considered a weakness is the engine. Hard acceleration drew quick but smooth kick-downs from the transmission followed by steady but not punch-you-in-the-back acceleration. It was certainly adequate, just not thrilling. Of course, in these times of high prices at the pump, that may not be such a bad thing. For those that want more, the EcoBoost is coming soon.
Peter Horbury gives a walk-around tour of the Lincoln MKS
Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
Our travel and lodging for this media event was provided by the manufacturer.
New Car Test Drive
New luxury car offers the latest in connectivity.
The all-new 2009 Lincoln MKS is something different for this proud luxury marquee: a full-size sedan with its sights set on the young (by Lincoln standards). As such, the MKS is a lavishly equipped full-size luxury sedan, both grand and, in its way, grandiose. It combines an elegant new look for Lincoln, combining elements of the marque's long, impressive history with technology that, by Lincoln's lights, points the way to the luxury-car future.
From the first glance, this MKS is nothing if not a serious entry. It has dignity and clout that is likely to win over Lincoln's traditional older clientele. Its muscular, long body is trimmed plenteously with gleaming chrome highlights, giving it the flash of a thoroughbred American sedan.
The MKS interior seconds the motion; this is a sedan with class-leading roominess in the rear compartment. The styling and materials throughout, typified by elegant standard-equipment leather upholstery, confirm that this is an automobile for those accustomed to fine surroundings.
But it is in technology, more specifically, in comprehensive connectivity, that the MKS will make its bid. The MKS offers unprecedented real-time, real-world onboard communications. Lincoln marketing executives said time is the ultimate luxury and therefore the electronics systems in the MKS were designed to save the owner time. Following on Ford's successful Sync voice-activated audio systems, the MKS goes one long step further. Its Next-Generation Navigation System with Sirius Travel Link allows the switched-on owner to control vast audio programming resources, follow threatening regional weather patterns in real-time, stay informed about traffic jams ahead, keep up on the latest sports scores and find movie listings and start times.
We found its big eight-inch display easy to read and its systems easy to operate, something that can't be said of some much more expensive German cars. You can load personal CD photos on your in-dash monitor. You can find all local gas stations, listed either by nearness or in order of price per gallon. We followed the progress of a violent storm on an in-dash Doppler radar monitor, a new kind of automotive thrill. Pressing a couple of buttons displayed the five-day forecast. The system will play DVD movies with incredibly rich surround sound, and the touch-screen monitor takes running your iPod to new levels. Its voice command system indicates this technology has moved beyond the gimmick stage.
But the MKS is more than an electronics base; it must meet the standards of the contemporary automobile, somewhat as its superb forebear, the Lincoln LS, did so successfully. As a dynamic platform for freeway motoring, the MKS is first-rate, stable, steady, confidence-inspiring. It would be entirely at home driving coast to coast, and delivering an impressive 24-mpg EPA highway rating, this seems an enticing mission.
The MKS comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available for improved capability in foul-weather. A 3.7-liter dohc 24-valve V6 engine powers the MKS, delivering 273 horsepower. It works with a six-speed automatic transmission to post an EPA-rated City/Highway 17/24 mpg.
We found it cruises very nicely, smooth and quiet. It isn't a sport sedan along the lines of a BMW, however, and doesn't respond well to hard driving.
The Lincoln MKS ($38,465) is available in only one model. All-wheel drive ($1890) is optional. Four option packages are available:
The Navigation Package ($2995) adds voice-activated DVD navigation system, THX II w. 5.1 premium surround-sound audio, and a rearview camera. The Technology Package ($1115) upgrades with adaptive headlamps with auto high beam, rain-sensing wipers, forward sensing parking-aid system, rear-window power sunshade, intelligent access with push-button start. The Ultimate Package ($5715) includes the Technology package, Navigation package, dual-panel moonroof, 19-inch premium painted wheels, Ultimate seating trim with seat color-keyed suede strip in the center of the seatbacks and an embroidered Lincoln Star logo on the front headrests. The Aluminum Applique Package ($195) features aluminum instrument panel applique, leather shift knob, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Safety features include dual-stage front airbags plus seat-mounted side airbags for head and torso protection, as well as safety-belt pretensioners and load-limiting retractors. The Occupant Classification System's sensor automatically determines by weight whether the front passenger seat is empty, occupied by a child seat or by a small, medium or large occupant and deploys the airbag accordingly. Active safety features include anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control, standard. Optional safety features include all-wheel drive and a rearview camera that can help the driver spot a child behind the car when backing up.
The Lincoln MKS is built on a reengineered and improved version of the chassis used in the discontinued Ford Taurus. However, the MKS's styling and presence are pure Lincoln, bold, sturdy, impressive. This luxury marque has been busily searching its past design DNA for usable yesteryear styling symbols that will play well in the present. The aggressive boat prow-like grille of the MKS recalls the classic pre-war Lincoln Continental; yet in the same gesture, this stands as a symbol of the new Lincoln's aggressive thrust into the 21st century.
While appearing rock steady in profile, the MKS has a dynamic stance that seems ready to pounce. And viewed from the rear on the interstate, this car has the self-confident presence, in scaled-down form, of an ultra-luxury sedan.
As befits a full-size American luxury sedan, the MKS makes generous use of chrome highlighting, supported by understated side sculpting in profile view. In addition to the usual variety of paint colors, the MKS is available in a new paint finish called Tuxedo Black Metallic. This black is similar to a metallic finish, except that in place of metallic flecks in the paint, it features brilliant, tiny flecks of glass. The result is a highly reflective finish that will wow some buyers. To others, however, Tuxedo Black will look like an extraordinarily coarse metallic blend more suited to bass boats, especially when illuminated under bright spotlights.
The MKS, with its overall length of 204.1 inches and dignified height of 61.6 inches, is a fully found luxury sedan that will surely earn its place in valet parking. However, as with many luxury sedans that aspire to sleekness (Jaguar sedans come to mind) its handsomely rounded forms leave it the impression of being smaller than it really is.
On the plus side of this undersizing, the air passing over the MKS at 70 mph flows smoothly and silently, yielding both a peaceful commute and startlingly efficient EPA Highway mileage of 24 mpg, impressive for this full-size entry. When it's time to refuel, the MKS features a refueling receptacle that eliminates the messiness of a gas cap.
Climbing into the cockpit of the MKS, its wide expanse of dashboard receding toward the windshield creates a sensation of lavish roominess. Our test car had a gleaming swath of dark wood running from one end of the dash to the other, its finish so bright indeed that we weren't sure whether to believe it was real wood. It was.
The instruments were laid out handsomely, with softly cushioned surfaces and hand-stitched leather seams everywhere on the dashboard, as befits a luxury car. The steering wheel was wrapped in leather, with wood highlights, and its girth and grip felt perfect.
Big buttons on the center stack made operating the HVAC (heating/air conditioning) and audio systems easy. What felt less perfect was the switchgear, which lacked the tactile elegance and reassuring sturdiness one might have hoped for in this car. Instead, the buttons and switches and A/C ducting adjusters felt generic, as if they might be found on any Ford product, high or low. Otherwise, the appearance and materials in the MKS cabin were fittingly swank.
The MKS profits from the sporting feeling of fine leather seating. The front seat cushion and particularly the backrest provide steadying lateral support. Long-range driving comfort is good and the fit and quality of the leather is excellent. Visibility is similarly excellent from the driving position. The proximity of the headrest to the back of the head was a minor annoyance for some of us; it's placed there for improved safety and cannot be adjusted.
The stepped gearshift controlling the six-speed automatic is simple and straightforward, though we were rarely moved to use it. Just ahead of the shifter is a panel on the center console with word Lincoln written bold. It looks for all the world like the cover of a stowage compartment, and its slightly misaligned cut lines encouraged the suspicion. In many another deluxe entry, this panel would've popped open to offer handy storage. In the MKS, no such luck.
The HVAC system provided generous torrents of cooling air.
The navigation system features a bright, eight-inch screen. We found the navigation system a good companion to our test drive, winding through the tortuous, ever-changing two-lane blacktop of the Virginia backcountry. The industry-leading Lincoln connectivity allowed us to monitor the local weather in real time, locate gas stations and otherwise stay in touch with the outside world. Returning to the traffic-challenged environment of Washington, D.C., furthermore, we were easily able to sort out the traffic jams ahead in real time and find the least annoying route to our final destination. Excellent. Touching the screen on a traffic jam revealed the cause. The navigation system operated in both three-dimensional mode and map view. The three-dimensional view is fun for impressing friends (and prospective buyers), but not particularly useful and somewhat confusing to interpret.
The premium-quality THX II sound system and satellite-radio accessibility of our Ultimate Package-equipped MKS furnished our deep-country drive with superb concert surround-sound. And using Ford's voice-activated Sync system, we were able to order changes in programming without ever moving our hands from the wheel. While parked, we watched clips from 'Star Wars' crisply displayed on the screen and the fly-bys of the small, fighter ships were incredible over the 5.1 surround sound with crisp base and crystal highs. Likewise, the acoustical guitar and percussion on a live recording of the Eagles playing 'Hotel California' was amazingly crisp and clear. These are benefits of the quality of the system and the quality of the sound-deadening of the cabin.
Second-row riders will enjoy the MKS as much as those in the front row. The rear seats offer capacious ease of entry and segment-leading spaciousness. The rear-seat cushions, while soft and comfortable, are not terribly supportive, but the rear seatbacks more than make up for this l.
With the notable exception of the spirited, agile Lincoln LS, which the present MKS replaces, Lincolns have never been valued for the sporting character of their driving temperament. Classically, a Lincoln is just about the last candidate one would choose for a race through the darting and veering linked corners of canyon country. The MKS is no exception to this pattern. A sport sedan it is not.
The MKS is an excellent turnpike cruiser, but away from the interstate on a winding country two-lane, this large, heavy car feels less at home. Its moderately high steering effort inspires confidence on the highway, but rewards the driver with little information when driving in the backcountry. Rather, it eschews the virtues of the prior LS and reverts to being a somewhat stodgy Lincoln in the grand old mode.
However, this same time-honored Lincoln character has significant pluses. Primary among these is first-rate comfort and composure during long cruises on the interstate.
The MKS is confident at interstate speeds, and its four-valve 3.7-liter V6 produces an ample 273 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to deliver long, effortless service life at highway speeds. It boasts an exemplary 24-mpg EPA Highway rating. Accelerating from a standing start, the package is above average, which is to say, neither a tire-burner nor in any way slow. Given the MKS's stand-up character, the choice of engine and performance seems just right.
It is in the area of chassis dynamics that the MKS comes up short. Veering off the interstate onto lesser, winding country roads, this Lincoln is decidedly un-entertaining. Driving over undulations at speed, the ride control was generally good, though occasionally the MKS exhibited the barest beginnings of floatiness.
When navigating bends in the road, the MKS seems to caution the driver to slow down. It is out of its element. The steering effort of the MKS is remarkably firm, which in most sport-sedan cases implies an enthusiast character. With the MKS, however, road feel communicated through this firm steering in curving terrain is muted, almost non-existent. And the ride motions of the car are stubborn and somewhat lurching, yielding little road information or driving pleasure. This is not to say that the MKS is in any way hazardous. On a curvy road, its chassis is simply not much fun to drive.
The brakes worked very well. Like many another car in its class, at 4127 pounds (with front-wheel drive) the MKS is a heavy car, but the big four-wheel disc brakes, augmented with ABS, traction control and electronic stability control, are more than up to the task. The problem is that, unlike many in its class, the MKS really feels heavy. Comparing its chassis dynamics to the Cadillac STS, no lightweight itself, the Cadillac feels like a Porsche.
The MKS was never intended to be a sport sedan, rightly so. And venturing as it does deep into the realm of onboard connectivity, this car makes an extremely interesting entry. But after producing the enticing, discontinued LS, Lincoln seems to have ignored the idea that putting more athleticism in its cars and a smile of pleasure on the driver's face is never a bad thing.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Ted West filed this report from Washington, D.C. Mitch McCullough contributed to this report.
Lincoln MKS ($38,465).
Options As Tested
Ultimate Package ($5,715) includes Navigation Package with voice-activated DVD navigation system, premium surround-sound audio, rearview camera, Technology Package with adaptive headlamps, auto high beam, rain-sensing wipers, forward sensing parking-aid system, rear-window power sunshade, intelligent access w/ push-button start, dual-panel moonroof, 19-inch premium painted wheels, seating trim w color-keyed suede strip in the center of the seatbacks, embroidered Lincoln logo on the front headrests.
Lincoln MKS ($44,930).
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