The all-new MKS marks a resurgence of the Lincoln brand as the company remakes itself into one that can compete with brands such as Acura, Lexus and Cadillac.
The MKS has a sleek profile punctuated by a large, double-wing grille that is becoming Lincoln’s signature. Lincoln said the new grille can be traced to the 1941 Lincoln Continental.
Character lines sweep over the hood and into the A-pillars. The windshield is reclined rather steeply. Stainless steel accents run over the roof to the trunk. It’s not hard to see the influence of competing cars, particularly the Lexus GS, in the styling of the MKS.
The chassis platform used for the MKS was derived from the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable and also has roots in the Volvo S80.
The MKS is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Base prices begin at $37,665 for front-wheel drive and $39,555 for all-wheel drive. The test car’s sticker price was $44,975.
Lincoln engineers benchmarked the Lexus GS chassis for ride and handling. The MKS feels solid and secure. It doesn’t seem to be as quiet as the Lexus.
The cabin is a cozy place. Comfort, convenience and style are key attributes. The interior exhibits a refined elegance, revised gauges and a center stack that looks more elegant than that of any other Lincoln. Brushed silver accents highlight the center console that has multiple storage spaces.
The test car’s black leather upholstery worked extremely well with the silver and chrome accents used throughout the instrument panel. The gauges are not as slick as the electroluminescent ones used in some competitors.
The seats in the MKS are more upright than some of its competitors’, and that makes it easy to get in and out. The front doors are wide.
The front seats are very comfortable, although I found the forward-leaning headrest was in my way unless I raised it all the way up. Headrests are close to the occupant to provide whiplash protection.
The keyless ignition works as long as the key fob is in the driver’s purse or pocket. The security code keypad on the driver’s door pillar is also handy for times when you don’t want to use a key.
The navigation system has a six-month subscription to Sirius satellite radio Travel Link. Travel Link provides up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information for 78 markets as well as gasoline prices at 120,000 filling stations.
The adaptive cruise control is another convenience option. This system uses radar to maintain a set distance behind the car in front, even in rain or snow.
The MKS uses a 3.7-liter derivative of Ford’s 3.5-liter V-6. The added displacement and variable valve timing improve torque, and that enhances the car’s throttle response for passing and climbing hills.
Fuel economy is a hot issue, and Ford has equipped the MKS with a program that shuts off the fuel pump when the car is decelerating, improving mileage slightly. The Environmental Protection Agency rates fuel economy at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway for all-wheel drive. Cars with front-wheel drive are rated 1 mpg better.
The transmission is a six-speed automatic that can be shifted manually. The optional all-wheel-drive system is great for inclement weather in the Snow Belt and was handy on last week’s slippery roads.
Next year, Lincoln will introduce a twin-turbo, direct-injection V-6 that will have 340 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque. This engine, called EcoBoost, has the power of a V-8 and the 23-mpg highway fuel economy of a V-6.
Safety features include seat-mounted side airbags, a collapsible steering column and safety-belt pretensioners.
The base price of an all-wheel-drive MKS is $39,555. With rain-sensing wipers, adaptive headlights, navigation system, adaptive cruise control and 19-inch wheels, the sticker price was $44,975.
Four years or 50,000 miles, with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
2009 Lincoln MKS
Engine: 3.7-liter, 273-hp V-6
Wheelbase: 112.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,276 lbs.
Base price: $39,555
As driven: $44,975
MPG rating: 16 city, 23 hwy.
To reach Tom Strongman, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.