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2009 Lincoln MKS: Hope for the Hopeless?

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Copyright 2008 by Rex Roy

Copyright 2008 by Rex Roy

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Lincoln just let us drive its new 2009 MKS. This handsome five-passenger sedan will be in dealerships in just a few weeks. Our burning question is, Will anybody care? We ponder this sincerely, especially after talking with members of Lincoln's marketing team who told us that "Lincoln" means nothing to the MKS target audience.

This is not a positive thing for one of America's most storied brands. Past leaders of Lincoln should be ashamed. The brand's new leaders have a formidable task ahead of them.

If the market pays attentions to the MKS's arrival, it'll discover a competitive mid-lux offering that Lincoln thinks makes a good alternative to the Cadillac STS, Lexus GS, and Acura RL. We agree.

The Lincoln's distinctive styling works in its favor. The MKS is the first production Lincoln to use the division's new grille design that the company previewed on the MKS and MKT auto show concept vehicles. The winged design reaches back to Edsel Ford's 1941 Continental, and gives the newest Lincoln a welcomed bit of character that's grounded in something other than a designer's imagination.

A new 275-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 powers the MKS. The engine is a larger version of Ford's corporate 3.5-liter engine, and it performs adequately with a high degree of smoothness and little noise or fuss. While premium fuel is required to hit the 275 mark, using regular fuel delivers a still healthy 265 horsepower with no change in fuel economy (17/24 mpg for front-wheel drive and 16/23 mpg for all-wheel drive).

The new Lincoln's six-speed automatic is seen in other Ford products such as the Edge, but has been thoroughly recalibrated for this upscale installation. In the MKS, the transmission includes a sport mode as well as manual shift capabilities. Throughout the hills of Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C., with the transmission in the sport setting, the gearbox shifted aggressively. Its performance was close to anticipatory and did an excellent job of keeping the Lincoln in the right gear at the right time—just what an automatic transmission should do.

Another bright spot for the 2009 MKS is its chassis. Gnostics know that the Lincoln is based on the current Taurus, which itself was loosely based on the Volvo S80. However, Ford just didn't plop a new body on an existing platform. The MKS features a totally new multilink rear suspension with coil-over shocks and a retuned front strut suspension, then bolts them both to a reinforced chassis that is 35 percent stiffer than the current Taurus. The resulting ride it Goldilocks taught: not too soft and not too hard, even with the optional 20-inch wheels shown on the car pictured here. Steering response is quick, and driving at street speeds, the understeer one expects from a largish front-wheel-drive sedan is totally absent. The MKS is also available with all-wheel drive.

Pricing starts at around $38,000 for a front-wheel-drive MKS without any fancy options--but including standard features as heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, SYNC, HID headlamps--and runs up to $46,000 for a decked-out all-wheel-drive edition.

Will anyone care? Is there hope for Lincoln? We hope so, but we'll have to wait and see.--Rex Roy
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Comments (9)
  1. Marty, It looks like just another face-lifted Ford. Lincoln needs to be the flagship line of cars like it used to be for Ford. A stand alone line of cars as Lexus and be priced as such. As for me I will continue to drive one of the biggest bangs for the buck, a 2007 Chrysler 300C SRT8!
     
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  2. It's a nice car and it has a striking resemblance to the Jaguar XF. I don't think it's going to be the car that makes a big comeback for Lincoln. When people think Lincoln, they either think of the Navigator or they think of the many Town Cars in the parking lot at Sizzler for the early bird special.
     
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  3. Finaly they offer a car with a character. If they well advertize it, they gonna have succes. Consumers must see the new image of a lincoln. That's your very last chance and you're on the right way.
     
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  4. I am thrilled that Ford has done something different for this car, not just put a Lincoln grille on it.....The body panels look great, and I really think that the whole car is a good fit for Lincoln. But this is not the car that will save Lincoln. It will be a car that helps Lincoln, but just how much? Depends on how much they advertise.....
    I'll keep my fingers crossed
     
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  5. Bill Masterson: How is Ford/Lincoln any different the Toyota/Lexus? Lexus ES is a Camry with more sound insulation, tweaked suspension, and lots more goodies... just like the new MKS is a Taurus with many tweaks. Failing to see the difference.
     
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  6. MKS=a stupid, meaningless acronym for a stupid clone of the pitiful FOrd Fusion or one of these nondescript FOrd designs,
    does anybody really think that putting a cowcatcher grill on the pig will make it Miss Universe?
     
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  7. Chris, You are correct on that comparison and I was too vague. When I think of Lexus I think of the 560 and that is what I am comparing to Lincoln. Their "flagship car" may only compare to the ES Lexus? The big three once again put too much emphasis on their heavy vehicles that produce large gross profits and now have nothing to sell that fuel-concious buyers want. Nor any funds to develop the product they badly need.
     
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  8. I love all these comments on a car that as of June no one could possibly have driven or sat in unless you had an uncle named Ford.
    As far as a the car being a face lifted ford.. um what ford does this car even remotely resemble ?
    While true it shares a paltform with the Taurus, that paltfom is derived from Volvo and I think it is safe to say Volvo has a long history of safe and reliable vehichles and architechture.
    The susepnsion is completely unique to the car as are many of the other fetures and specification of the car and I could fill up the page with the details but you can easily find out with a little research.
    Before making an uniformed comment it is always best to educate one's self so as not to sound biased ar just plain ignorant.
    This car is a step in the right direction and it was not that long ago that the CTS was written off.
    By the way that car won car of the year honors in its class this year.
    I can see the evolution of the MKS leading it down the same path.
    One last thing, we laud the Japanese for their engineering genius in using a single platform but take our own out back to the wood shed for doing the same thing.
    Lets not continue to send our wealth overseas without even giving our home team at least a test drive.
    And dont even get me started on part's content or where the car is built, the final sale and where the parent copr calls home is what matters, but this is not an economics forum.
    NICE JOB LINCOLN !
    By the way I own a 2005 Jaguar S Type and an 2007 Avalon and the Avalon is a POS and I can not wait to get rid of it for an MKS and no I am not 60 try 38.
     
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  9. A new 275-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 powers the MKS. The engine is a larger version of Ford's corporate 3.5-liter engine, and it performs adequately with a high degree of smoothness and little noise or fuss. While premium fuel is required to hit the 275 mark, using regular fuel delivers a still healthy 265 horsepower with no change in fuel economy (17/24 mpg for front-wheel drive and 16/23 mpg for all-wheel drive).
     
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