2009 Lincoln MKSPosted on April 3rd, 2009
New flagship sedan rolls out this summer
By Nina Russin
The new MKS may be Lincoln’s most important car of the current decade: its fresh design and technology set new standards for the brand. Based on the MKR concept, the sedan is one of a series of production vehicles intended to give Lincoln a sexier, more youthful image.
Chief designer, Peter Horbury, culled the grille from the 1941 Lincoln Continental. A beltline that rises over the rear wheels is another cue from Lincoln’s pre-war era.
But the MKS looks to Lincoln’s future more than its past, with features such as adaptive cruise control, keyless start, adaptive headlamps and Sync infotainment interface. Ford’s unique keypad entry system has evolved into a heat-sensitive display that illuminates when the driver touches the B-pillar.
The driver unlocks the car by brushing his hand over the display with the key in his pocket, or by entering a numeric code. The advantage of keypad entry is that it gives multiple passengers access: I find it a great convenience when my husband and I travel together to a race or a trailhead.
Advanced safety systems include a body structure that makes extensive use of high-strength boron steel, Ford’s safety canopy, electronic stability control, and an adaptive collapsible steering column. A new forward sensing system alerts drivers about obstacles in front of the car when parking, while an available rear back-up camera with audible assist eliminate blind spots to the back.
At the heart of the car is a 3.7-liter V6 engine based on the 3.5-liter block in the MKX and MKZ. The 273-horsepower engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission: it runs on regular fuel. A capless fuel filler system eliminates a piece of hardware and reduces evaporative emissions. Available all-wheel drive improves the sedan’s wet weather performance.
Fuel saving features such as a two-speed fuel pump and deceleration fuel shut-off enhance gas mileage. A fuel meter in the gauge cluster coaches the driver on fuel-efficient driving.
Large and in charge
Although Peter Horbury describes the MKS as “exuding a kind of understated luxury,” the sedan isn’t exactly a wall flower. Looking at the sangria red paint on the test car, I’d say this Lincoln likes to be the center of attention.
There’s a lot of chrome too: some bright, some matte, along with large, shiny wheels and low-profile tires.
Large headlamps that rise out of the grille remind me of my cat’s eyes when she smells meat. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that the front fascia was baring its teeth.
In the back, a vertical white light strip that runs along the decklid ends in two mammoth taillamps. A reverse wedge in back echoes the sedan’s bullet-shaped profile.
The Lincoln’s interior is loaded with bells and whistles, but done in a very stylish manner. Perforated leather seats heat or cool the driver and front passenger, depending on the weather. Heated rear seats are standard as well.
Pushing the start button brings the car’s electronic systems to life, beginning with its 5.1 surround-sound audio. A central touch screen display interfaces with the audio system, displays maps and the back-up camera image when the car is in reverse.
The twelve-way adjustable driver’s seat with four-way lumbar adjustment is almost overkill: I don’t know my sacroiliac well enough to decide whether it prefers being supported inboard or outboard.
Second-row passengers will be quite comfortable in the two outboard positions: there’s plenty of head, lead and shoulder room for the average adult. The floor tunnel and center console leave little legroom for the middle passenger. An armrest that folds out of the middle seatback suggests that designers anticipated two passengers in back more often than three.
Two, twelve-volt outlets and a USB port up front allow the driver to plug in portable electronic devices. Redundant audio and cruise controls on the steering wheel minimize distraction. A power tilt function helps smaller drivers maintain a clear forward view.
Sinuous ride and handling
Ford has led the way in vehicle noise reduction through its use of quiet steel. The MKS is so quiet inside, it’s hard to believe that the car is in motion. An injection-molded rubber dash panel runs from the floor to the top of the dash and over the cowl. Additional padding in the wheel wells eliminates tire noise. A laminated windshield and side windows block wind noise in front of the car.
The six-cylinder engine provides ample power for merging into high-speed traffic and passing on the highway. I was impressed by the sedan’s highway fuel economy. Using the onboard fuel gauge to conserve fuel, I was able to drive about forty miles without the gas gauge moving off the “full” mark.
The front-wheel drive test car showed little tendency to understeer, though my driving was limited to dry roads. The fully-independent suspension isolates the driver and passengers from any bumps or potholes, making the MKS a great candidate for the upper Midwest.
Steering is light without showing any obvious play: the car has good on-center response. The brakes stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.
The car’s high beltline restricts visibility to the sides and back of the car: I found the wide B pillar obstructs the left side view. Large side mirrors do a pretty good job of compensating, though they interfere with my forward view when I corner to the left.
The MKS has a spacious trunk: large enough for a family’s luggage. As with most sedans, the trunk’s high liftover height and relatively short cargo floor make it less than ideal for transporting bikes: cyclists would be better served with one of Lincoln’s cross-utility vehicles.
All cars come with front and side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, audible reverse sensing system, stability control and traction control.
A navigation package on the test car ($2995) adds the rearview camera. The technology package ($1115) includes rain sensing wipers, the forward sensing system, keyless start and adaptive headlamps.
I’d recommend adaptive headlamps to anyone who drives in poorly lit areas: they light up parts of the intersection that normal headlamps don’t reach.
Base price on the MKS is $37,665, not including a $800 delivery charge. Lincoln builds its flagship sedan at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant.
Likes: A stylish, powerful and exceptionally quiet luxury sedan. A two-speed fuel pump and deceleration fuel cut-off enhance fuel economy.
Dislikes: Poor over-the-shoulder visibility due to a thick B pillar. Large side mirrors limit forward visibility when cornering to the right.
Base price: $37,665
As tested: $42,285
Horsepower: 273 Hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 270 lbs.-ft. @ 4250 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 17/24 mpg city/highway
Leave a reply