When the 2009 Lincoln MKS entered production, it arrived to market with a 273 horsepower, 3.7-liter V6. This made the new luxurious Lincoln a large, loaded, heavy vehicle with the power of a Nissan Altima. When we reviewed the MKS, we liked the newest Lincoln's interior, loved its in-car technology, and found the package itself acceptable to drive, but we were left longing for Ford's seemingly far off twin-turbocharged, direct-inject 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine. A vehicle as big as the MKS deserves the extra pop, we figured.
It took a year, but it's finally turbo time at the top of Lincoln's lineup. We already had the pleasure of a first drive with the force-fed MKS, and we found the 4,300-lb all-wheel-drive sedan to be quick and nimble for its size with fuel economy that handily bests its V8-powered competition. But we drove the EcoBoost MKS in the controlled environment of Ford's Romeo Proving Grounds. This time, we were given the chance to drive the EcoBoost MKS at a place where few Lincolns roam: the drag strip. Hit the jump to see how Ford's new hot rod Lincoln handled itself on the track. We have performance numbers and video waiting for you, as well as video and stats for the EcoBoost Ford Flex.
Photos copyright ©2009 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc
Michigan's Milan Dragway sits about 50 miles southwest of downtown Detroit. When we arrived, Milan was buzzing with hot rods, funny cars, motorcycles and snowmobiles. There were modified trucks and SUVs, some of which looked more prepared for the junkyard than the track. There was even a brand new Cadillac CTS-V, likely the closest you'll get to an exotic on most nights. What we didn't see was a single Lincoln.
That changed when two black and one cherry red MKS EcoBoost models showed up at the tech booth for inspection. At most places, we'd have to explain what EcoBoost means, but the locals here were all too aware of what lie dormant under the hood. One guy on a hopped-up golf cart with mag wheels (there were a lot of those at Milan) rolled up and said "355-hp Lincoln; 'bout time." Indeed sir, indeed.
Though Ford has yet to offer official performance numbers for the MKS and Flex EcoBoost models, the Blue Oval expects the final 0-60 figures to be about 6.0 seconds for the sedan and 7.0 seconds for the three-row people mover. We expect a couple tenths to be shaved off that number before all is said and done, though, as Ford tends to play it safe with performance figures in order to avoid the bad press associated with over-promising and under-delivering. With numbers like that, the EcoBoost models probably weren't going to compete with the privately owned track stars that were sitting in line and waiting for drag time, but we were anxious to open up the new EcoBoost motor just the same.
With exactly zero drag racing experience, this blogger didn't give a thought to how to best launch the MKS until about two minutes before the tree showed green. Should we go full auto or use the autoshift paddles on the steering wheel? Autoshift. What about traction control? Probably best to keep it on for the first run. Launch it at 4,000 rpm or just jam the petal and go? Wait, the EcoBoost delivers 350 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm. Aw heck, who knows? Let's just jam the pedal.
Getting up to the left line, the starter kept indicating for us to inch up the MKS a bit more. I was looking at him, inching away, when the green light turned, and I saw the Dakota pickup next to me pull away from the gate. After all that thinking, I flat-out blew it at the green light. The hopped-up late-model Dodge Dakota was about 100 feet ahead when the MKS left the starting line.
VIDEO: Drag racing with EcoBoost at Milan Dragway
The EcoBoost V6 performed exactly as advertised, though, with gobs of torque early and often and little lag to be found. Though the green pickup got way out in front right out of the gate, the MKS was catching up fast. First and second gears were swapped around 5,500 rpm, then Mr. Inexperienced hit redline in third, but quickly recovered. Our quarter mile time stood at a pedestrian 14.5 seconds. This is why I'm usually the one holding the camera.
Even at 105 mph, a speed we achieved after the quarter mile was behind us, the MKS had the smooth, calm demeanor that you'd expect of an AWD luxury automobile. Unfortunately, street tire time ended shortly after our lone run, and we were stuck with the shame of a lousy quarter mile time. Others performed better, though, with an outing best 13.9-second run at 104 mph turned in by Car and Driver scribe Mike Austin.
While the MKS looked a bit out of place out on the drag strip, the boxy Ford Flex somehow looked like it belonged. Big beefy rims and a wide stance give the Flex a yesteryear hot rod look, and its identical-to-the-MKS' 355 hp, twin-turbo V6 engine gave it the grunt to hold its own at Milan. The Flex, which weighs about 300 pounds more than the MKS, turned in a best time of 14.5 seconds at 96 mph – a more than respectable tally for a 4,600-pound crossover.
As far as our time at Milan goes, we're calling for a Mulligan. Next time, we'll arrive earlier and keep running until we get it right. Hit play on the video above to watch the MKS and Flex as they run the quarter mile at the Milan Dragway. While the hotrod Lincoln and Ford didn't win any of their races, you can be sure they'll fare better if and when turbo-tweaking tuners get their hands on them.
Photos copyright ©2009 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc