2010 Lincoln MKS EcoBoostPosted on July 26th, 2010
New engine technology raises the bar for luxury sedans
By Nina Russin
Rarely is a new car engine a game changer, simply because current technology is so good. Despite that, the Ford EcoBoost engine, available in the all-wheel drive version of the Lincoln MKS, goes to the head of the class. The engine is so powerful, smooth and fuel efficient that it raises the bar for every car in the segment.
Twin turbochargers give the EcoBoost V-6 engine power and performance comparable to a V-8. Thanks to its low compression ratio, the EcoBoost can run on regular gas, though premium is recommended for optimum performance.
According to EPA statistics, the engine averages 25 miles-per-gallon on the highway: a mile-per-gallon better than the Duratec V-6 on the front-wheel drive MKS. Not only does the EcoBoost produce 82 more horsepower and 80 more foot-pounds of torque than the Duratec, it compensates for parasitic fuel economy loss from the all-wheel drive.
Engineers have configured the turbochargers to be virtually invisible to the driver, with no turbo-lag. The six-speed automatic transmission is equally seamless: paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow the driver to change gears manually for more aggressive performance.
Because of the turbochargers, the engine develops peak torque as low as 1500 rpm: just off idle. As a result, the MKS can soar up hills and entrance ramps into high-speed traffic. Its power and nimble handling make the MKS feel like a much lighter and smaller car than its 4300-pound curb weight would suggest.
Since the EcoBoost engine is smaller than the Duratec V-6, it’s lighter and more compact, making it easier to package under the hood, and reducing overall curb weight. Since all-wheel drive adds weight to the MKS chassis, weight savings under the hood are important.
Base price on the EcoBoost MKS is $47,760, not including an $825 destination charge. Adaptive park assist on the test car can automatically parallel park the car ($535). Adaptive cruise control automatically maintains a preset distance from the car in front, enabling the driver to use cruise control in urban traffic ($1310).
Navigation is part of a convenience package that also adds an audio upgrade, rearview camera and dual-panel moon roof ($3500). Sirius travel link provides real-time traffic and weather updates.
Test drive in the Bay Area
I spent a couple of days behind the wheel of the 2010 MKS EcoBoost, driving through the foothills south of San Francisco. Most of the test drive was on highways, though I spent some time driving through San Francisco during morning rush hour, and on surface streets in the South Bay.
Comfort and convenience features on the test car appeal to active lifestyles. The newest version of Ford’s keypad entry system enables multiple passengers to enter the car without the key. It’s a great features for groups who are sharing the car at a trailhead or ski outing.
All-wheel drive gives the MKS four-season performance, though the platform lacks the two-speed transfer case and road clearance for extreme off-road trails.
The Sync system, developed in conjunction with Microsoft, gives the driver access to the Bluetooth interface, climate controls and infotainment functions via voice commands.
All seating positions are heated, keeping the driver and passengers comfortable in temperature extremes. Adjustable lumbar support on the driver’s and front passenger seats is excellent: both are comfortable for drives several hours in duration.
The four-wheel independent suspension is silky smooth and surprisingly responsive. Engineers revised the suspension for he 2010 model year to reduce noise, vibration and harshness. While the suspension may feel a little soft, the car has excellent on-center response. When I simulated an emergency lane change, the chassis stayed absolutely flat. Ditto for cornering, and off-camber cloverleaf ramps.
A pull-drift compensation feature automatically adjusts for changes in camber due to uneven roads, and steadies the car in a crosswind.
Visibility to the front and sides of the car is good. I found it easy to monitor cars in the adjacent lanes on the highway, and weave through dense traffic in San Francisco. A high beltline and thick rear pillars creates some blind areas to the back. The test car’s optional rearview camera makes it easier and safer to drive in reverse.
The electric power steering system provides plenty of assist at low speeds while keeping the car stable on the highway. Four-wheel disc brakes with antilock braking stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.
A standard collision warning system illuminates LED signals on the instrument panel to warn the driver if a collision is imminent. If the driver doesn’t respond, it primes the brakes by bringing the pads closer to the calipers to reduce the stopping distance.
Passengers inside the MKS are completely insulated from road or engine noise. The interior is so quiet that I find it monotonous on long drives: I prefer some tire noise and exhaust note. Both rows of passengers have ample leg, head and hip room.
Redundant steering wheel controls let the driver change audio settings, use the Bluetooth interface and engage the cruise control without taking his eyes off the road. The steering wheel controls are buttons as opposed to rotary dials, so they’re less intuitive for drivers unfamiliar with the car.
Two smallish cupholders in the center console will hold cans of soda, but are not wide enough to hold a couple of cups of Starbucks coffee, or large water bottles. Doors have small map pockets but no bottle holders.
The optional moonroof brings extra ambient light inside the car during the day. An ambient lighting system enhances the interior at night with recessed lighting.
The rear seats of the MKS fold flat to extend the cargo floor, making it possible to load in longer items such as skis or snowboards. Even with the seats up, the trunk is long and deep. Unfortunately, lift-over height is quite high. I had a difficult time lifting a heavy suitcase over the lip of the trunk.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags. A safety canopy system keeps the side airbags inflated and tethered to the sides for the duration of a roll-over, to prevent passengers from hitting the windows.
A SOS post-crash program automatically notifies the police and emergency personnel if the airbags deploy.
Antilock brakes, traction and stability control are standard on all grades.
Lincoln’s standard four-year factory warranty includes complimentary maintenance for the first twelve months or 15,000 miles.
Lincoln builds the MKS alongside the Ford Taurus at its Chicago, Illinois assembly plant.
Likes: A full-sized luxury sedan with exceptional power and performance, thanks to the EcoBoost V-6 engine. The optional active park assist feature takes the stress out of parallel parking.
Dislike: High lift-over height makes it difficult to load heavy items into the trunk.
Model: MKS EcoBoost
Base price: $47,760
As tested: $53,930
Horsepower: 355 Hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 350 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 17/25 mpg city/highway
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