New & Used Lincoln MKS: In Depth
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The Lincoln MKS is the largest four-door sedan sold by Ford's luxury brand. Though it shares underpinnings with the Ford Taurus sedan, the MKS has many more high-tech features, a more luxurious interior, and entirely distinct styling and bodywork.
First offered as a 2009 model, the MKS acted as a replacement that bridged both the smaller Lincoln LS sedan and to some extent, the well-known and aged Town Car. While the MKS isn't as long as the old Town Car, it actually provides more interior space — as well as more modern style, far better roadholding, higher fuel efficiency, and many more features.
The MKS is offered in either front- or all-wheel-drive versions, with a choice of normally aspirated and turbocharged six-cylinder engines. Its closest competition includes sedans like the Volvo S80 (with which it also shares a platform), Acura RLX, and Cadillac XTS.
Lincoln hinted at the MKS first with a concept vehicle shown at the 2006 Detroit auto show. The production version emerged at the 2007 Los Angeles auto show before sales began in 2008 with the MKS marketed as a 2009 model.
For its first model year, the Lincoln MKS featured a single engine, a 3.7-liter V-6 with 252 horsepower, coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. The underpinnings included an independent suspension derived from a family of vehicles that include the Volvo XC90, the Ford Taurus, and the Ford Flex. While reviewers appreciated its large cabin and the nicely detailed interior, the MKS didn't quite earn the plaudits of the German sedans in the class—the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Handling leaned more toward plush, and straight-line performance was quick but certainly not blazing.
The handsome MKS gained more traction with the addition of a turbocharged model for the 2010 model year. The MKS with Ford's twin-turbo "EcoBoost" V-6 puts out 355 horsepower and is mated to the same six-speed automatic–fitted with paddle-shift controls in this case—with slightly firmer suspension tuning. A similar powertrain is used in Ford's Taurus SHO. The turbocharged edition hits 60 mph in an estimated 6.5 seconds, and a top speed of 135 mph, while returning fuel economy estimates of at least 16/22 mpg (it was estimated at 17/25 mpg in non-turbo versions).
Below the swoopy roofline, the MKS cabin offers comfort and space for occupants, surrounding them with luxurious appointments. Wood lines the dash and metallic trim is dotted throughout, with everything bathed in a glow of white lighting to make it feel as fancy as any Lexus. Front-seat passengers will be especially comfortable, although the headrests can bother some as they're positioned farther forward than on most cars. Rear-seat passengers are treated to decent legroom and a good amount of headroom.
The MKS is highly rated in safety testing. It has standard dual front, side, and curtain airbags, along with anti-lock brakes, plus traction and stability control. A rearview camera and front parking sensors also are standard, while adaptive cruise control and active park assist are options. Active park assist uses sensors to determine steering angle and "parks" the car for the driver, who operates only the gas and brake while the MKS with EcoBoost (and its electric power steering) turns the wheel for perfect parking. Blind-spot monitors are now offered as well.
The base front-drive MKS has a long list of features including satellite radio, Ford's SYNC voice-activation and Bluetooth controls, and ventilated front seats. The EcoBoost edition fits 19-inch wheels, push-button start, active park assist and a "MyKey" system that allows owners to program speed limits, radio volumes and other limits for younger drivers. Options include a dual-pane sunroof, wood trim, an EcoBoost appearance package, adaptive cruise control, DVD navigation, THX-certified audio, and 20-inch wheels.
For the 2013 model year, the Lincoln MKS received its most extensive update since it went on sale. A new, slimmer grille and a revamped dash were the most obvious changes, along with the adoption of MyLincoln Touch--the voice, steering-wheel, and touchscreen-driven control system for the MKS' infotainment features. New safety features including lane-keeping alerts, and wireless Internet capability were also included in the model-year update. The MKS also received a new adaptive suspension, and a power increase on its base engine from 274 hp to 304 hp--along with a boost in fuel economy to an estimated 18/27 mpg.
Lincoln also added a livery version of the MKS for 2013 to help it retain or regain some of the sales it lost when the Town Car sedan went out of production. It is available with only with the 3.7-liter V-6 and either front- or all-wheel drive. Ford says the sedan can be stretched by up to six inches by certified upfitters.
For 2015, Lincoln performed some very minor surgery on the MKS's rear end in the name of usability. The decklid has been completely redesigned to improve access to the trunk-release button. As a result, the Lincoln star is gone from the back end, replaced by the brand's name spelled out in large letters across the trunk, just above a new winged trim piece. The change has the side effect (intended or otherwise) of making the rear end look that much more like the Jaguar XJ's.
The Lincoln MKS is built at Ford's Chicago Assembly plant in Chicago, Illinois.
A replacement for the MKS is likely due for the 2016 model year, probably based on the Lincoln Continental concept sedan shown at the New York Auto Show in April 2015. It, like the next Ford Taurus, will be built on a stretched version of the Ford Fusion platform. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 that's being offered in several new Ford products could find a home in the next MKS as well. The polarizing MyLincoln Touch system may be replaced by Sync 3, the latest version of Ford's infotainment setup, at that time.