2010 Lincoln MKS Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 5, 2010

The 2010 Lincoln MKS reaches into Euro-luxury territory with smart performance, subdued good looks, and a roomy interior.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the latest edition of the Lincoln MKS, with both available powertrains, for this road test. Editors have compared the MKS to vehicles in its size and price class to help you narrow your choices in the segment. Finally, editors have compiled a full review of quotes from other trusted sources to bring you the most comprehensive reference guide to the 2010 MKS on the Web.

With the 2010 Lincoln MKS, Ford finally fields a truly competitive luxury sedan with the acceleration and high-end features of prime European and Japanese nameplates. The MKS isn't a handling champion-it's a large, wide sedan with an emphasis on a creamy ride-but it's very quick on its toes and has an exhaustive list of features in its luxury-liner cabin. With a base price of about $42,000, the 2010 MKS can cost upward of $55,000 if all available features are specified.

Though the 2010 Lincoln MKS shares some running gear with its distant Ford company cousin, the Volvo S80, its sheetmetal and cabin are completely distinct-and distinctive, giving the MKS a classically handsome shape with heritage cues inside and out. The twin grille up front is its most recognizable touch, though the wide band of chrome around its tail has been a brand hallmark for decades. There are passing resemblances to the Lexus GS and the Volvo S80, but especially in dark colors, the MKS snares an identity all its own-a triumph for Ford's upscale brand. The interior of the MKS refines a linear, spare theme that Lincoln has been evolving all decade, with a wide dash and delicate metallic trim harking back to the Lincolns of the Sixties. Electroluminescent gauges give the MKS a soft glow at night, and leather and wood details bring it ever closer to Lexus levels of quality.

Lincoln offers a big V-6 engine to MKS buyers and turbocharges it for those looking for a good substitute for V-8 power. The basic 3.7-liter V-6 is a smooth, if adequate, performer, capable of a 0-60 mph run in 7.5 seconds and quiet, fuss-free exploits. It can be run with either regular or premium fuel, and turns in fuel economy figures of 17/24 mpg (front-drive) or 16/23 mpg (all-wheel drive). For a good amount more, Lincoln's new EcoBoost V-6 adds turbocharging and 82 hp for a total of 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. It's a dramatic infusion of power in the big Lincoln, pushing it to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and to a top speed of 135 mph-while delivering a nice, ripe engine note and better fuel economy than the base engine, earning 17/25 mpg. Both engines team with a six-speed automatic; EcoBoost versions add paddle shifters that might seem odd in a car of its size, but end up more useful for sport driving than you might think. The gearbox does an excellent job of keeping the Lincoln in the right gear at the right time-just what an automatic transmission should do. While it's influenced by European sedans like the Mercedes E-Class, the Lincoln MKS handles with typically American-car ride and handling. That's American of this decade: The MKS has a pleasantly damped ride and responsive steering (electric steering on EcoBoost models are artificial in feel), and the result on front- and all-wheel-drive models alike is a responsive sedan that's not too soft and not too hard, even with the optional 20-inch wheels.

Review continues below

Exceptional comfort in big Lincoln MKS isn't limited to the front seat passengers. The driver and front passenger have good legroom and headroom, with plush power seats that are heated and ventilated. There's enough shoulder room, but the driver will notice Ford's active headrests push too far forward for absolute comfort. The MKS' telescoping steering has a shorter travel than it should, which can force a closer driving position. The MKS' rear seats are more spacious and supportive than any Lincoln in memory, and in all, the cabin is among the best executed by Ford, period.

The 2010 Lincoln MKS is among the safest vehicles on the road today. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) awards it five stars for all crash tests, save for a four-star rollover rating. The insurance-industry-funded IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) names it a 2010 Top Safety Pick, in a year when it made qualifications for the award stricter. The MKS 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 drivers, who operate only the gas and brake while the MKS with EcoBoost (and its electric power steering) turns the wheel for perfect parking.

Pricing starts at around $42,000 for a front-wheel-drive MKS without any fancy options-but every MKS includes an AM/FM/CD changer with Sirius Satellite Radio and Ford's SYNC voice-activated entertainment controller. Also standard are cruise control; automatic climate control; ventilated front seats; heated front and rear seats; and HID headlamps. An all-wheel-drive edition is a few thousand dollars more, and the $48,000 MKS with EcoBoost adds 19-inch wheels, MyKey (which sets top speed and seatbelt reminders for younger drivers), a power rear sunshade, push-button start, active park assist, ambient lighting, and automatic high beams. Options include a dual-pane sunroof, wood trim, an EcoBoost appearance package, adaptive cruise control, DVD navigation, THX-certified audio, and 20-inch wheels.

8

2010 Lincoln MKS

Styling

The 2010 Lincoln MKS breaks new ground for the upscale Ford brand.

Though the 2010 Lincoln MKS shares some running gear with its distant Ford company cousin, the Volvo S80, its sheetmetal and cabin are completely distinct-and distinctive, giving the MKS a classically handsome shape with heritage cues inside and out. Autoblog observes, "On the road, the new MKS has far more presence than any production Lincoln in years," while Jalopnik admits "it does look pretty damn cool."

Edmunds admires its "clean, uncluttered flanks and horizontal, full-width taillamps," though it's unconvinced that the MKS has "real beauty." Automobile reports the double-wing grille "was inspired by the 1941 Lincoln Continental," and says it's "something you will definitely see in future Lincolns." The twin grille up front is its most recognizable touch, though the wide band of chrome around its tail has been a brand hallmark for decades. Lincoln avoids a styling cliché, Automobile adds, by avoiding vents on the fenders, opting for a simple badge. There are passing resemblances to the Lexus GS and the Volvo S80-Popular Mechanics comments, "In the metal, the MKS appears handsome, with cohesive themes," and even remarks it "vaguely reminds us of the Maserati Quattroporte"-but especially in dark colors, the MKS snares an identity all its own, a triumph for Ford's upscale brand. For 2010, EcoBoost models add "some tasteful upgrades to the already handsome exterior," Jalopnik asserts, "with a subtle lip spoiler at the back, smoked headlights, a chin spoiler and nice wheels."

The interior of the MKS refines a linear, spare theme that Lincoln has been evolving all decade, with a wide dash and delicate metallic trim harking back to the Lincolns of the Sixties. Electroluminescent gauges give the MKS a soft glow at night, and leather and wood details bring it ever close to Lexus levels of quality. "With its clean instrumentation and impressive attention to detail, the MKS's interior gets high marks for its luxurious livability," Popular Mechanics reports. "This is a place we'd say is entirely habitable for many long hours on the road," they add. Edmunds sticks with the minority opinion on the sheetmetal, but admires the interior: "It's too bad Lincoln can't turn the MKS inside-out," they comment. "The interior is the car's greatest strength."

7

2010 Lincoln MKS

Performance

The 2010 Lincoln MKS is at its best in turbocharged form-it's not a sport sedan, but a big luxury cruiser with awesome acceleration.

Lincoln offers a big V-6 engine to MKS buyers and turbocharges it for those looking for a good substitute for V-8 power.

The basic 3.7-liter V-6 is a smooth, if adequate, performer, capable of a 0-60 mph run in 7.5 seconds and quiet, fuss-free exploits. It can be run with either regular or premium fuel, and turns in fuel economy figures of 17/24 mpg (front-drive) or 16/23 mpg (all-wheel drive). "With the base 3.7-liter V6 engine," Edmunds says, "the Lincoln MKS is a pretty ordinary luxury car." Popular Mechanics agrees, finding the engine "delivers smooth and entirely acceptable thrust considering the 4,127 pounds it's required to haul around. In other words, this isn't exactly the hot rod Lincoln of yore." Power is adequate in the MKS, but not lavish, though Jalopnik reports, "My concerns about pickup and handling were pretty much assuaged when I had to take a left turn across 4 lanes of highway traffic to head back to D.C. and laid rubber in the parking lot."

For a good amount more, Lincoln's new EcoBoost V-6 adds turbocharging and 82 hp for a total of 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. "Ford has moved on to direct-injection and turbocharging in order to ‘downsize' its engines and face future fuel-economy and CO2 standards," Motor Trend explains. With a turbo six instead of a V-8, the MKS gets a dramatic infusion of power, pushing it to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and to a top speed of 135 mph-while delivering a nice, ripe engine note and better fuel economy than the base engine, earning 17/25 mpg. "That sweet twin-turbo V6 moves this thing off the line like a scalded monkey and the transmission stays out of your way when you want it to," Jalopnik declares, while Motor Trend reports, "you'll find yourself hitting 120 mph like you were taking a walk in the park."

Both engines team with a six-speed automatic; EcoBoost versions add paddle shifters that might seem odd in a car of its size, but end up more useful for sport driving than you might think. The gearbox does an excellent job of keeping the Lincoln in the right gear at the right time-just what an automatic transmission should do. Popular Mechanics feels "the 6-speed's ratios are well chosen, but aggressive driving can lead to unpredictable downshifts," while Motor Trend "preferred the Sport Drive mode the most, which means quicker up- and downshifts, yet there is little need to opt for the Manual mode." Edmunds observes the automatic "shifts smartly but not harshly right at redline." EcoBoost models get "a select-shift paddle shifter," Motor Trend adds. "You use the back of either paddle to upshift and the thumb-pieces to downshift."

While it's influenced by European sedans like the Mercedes E-Class, the Lincoln MKS handles with typically American-car ride and handling. That's American of this decade: The MKS has a pleasantly damped ride and responsive steering (electric steering on EcoBoost models are artificial in feel), and the result on front- and all-wheel-drive models alike is a responsive sedan that's not too soft and not too hard, even with the optional 20-inch wheels. Autoblog asserts, "on the road all of this works remarkably well," and Popular Mechanics says the MKS certainly handles big sweeping turns with stability and confidence," though they note the bigger wheels "transmit road imperfections resulting in a somewhat busy ride." Motor Trend concludes that overall, "The car drives with a substantial feel, yet is never ponderous." However, the electric power steering and all-wheel drive don't find admirers at Edmunds; the EcoBoost's steering "doesn't supply much information and remains springy," while "trying to wake up the all-wheel drive (and rotate the car) by lift-stab on throttle only makes the stability control angrier and more intrusive." Autoblog thinks the turbo MKS is "surprisingly tossable," though, and during its testing, the "suspension kept the car remarkably composed." Ultimately, drivers reconcile themselves to the fact that the MKS is a "big car with a very bad-ass engine which doesn't quite tackle corners with the aplomb we'd like," as Jalopnik contends.

As for the Lincoln MKS's brakes, Motor Trend notes that they "feel linear, responsive, and feel as though they have plenty of stopping power in reserve."
Jalopnik reports the brakes "drop down from a panic stop and the ABS calibration is absolutely perfect, no pulsation, no loss of traction," but says "the pedal is mushy, there's no real feel in it and the travel before it engages is too long."

9

2010 Lincoln MKS

Comfort & Quality

With spacious accommodations and high-quality materials, the 2010 MKS is a leap ahead for Lincoln.

Exceptional comfort in big Lincoln MKS isn't limited to the front seat passengers.

The driver and front passenger have good legroom and headroom, with plush power seats that are heated and ventilated. The front seats in the 2010 Lincoln MKS offer "plenty of headroom for the tallest drivers," Motor Trend reports, "and the cabin feels airy and plenty comfortable." Car and Driver compliments the MKS's "large, well-bolstered seats with just the right degree of firmness." There's enough shoulder room, but the driver will notice Ford's active headrests push too far forward for absolute comfort. The MKS' telescoping steering has a shorter travel than it should, which can force a closer driving position.

The MKS' rear seats are more spacious and supportive than any Lincoln in memory. "There's a ton of space inside," Edmunds reports. Motor Trend adds that "back seat passengers will feel lucky, as the MKS has more rear interior room than cars like the E-Class and 5 Series," and gives "kudos too for a large and usable trunk." TheCarConnection.com's editors note the trunk itself has an awkwardly shaped opening that limits its utility.

The MKS' cabin is among the best executed by Ford, period. Edmunds says the MKS takes "a thoroughly modern route that is, dare we say, elegant." Edmunds also observes, "The MKS gets acoustic laminated glass for the windshield and the front side windows. In steady-state cruising, the MKS rides around making a gentle hushing sound." Automobile asserts the MKS' the leather is "nice, and it does have a slightly richer hand feel than much of the plasticized leather you see these days." According to Car and Driver, "the leather for the seats comes from Bridge of Weir, the Scottish company that supplied hides for the Continental Mark II 50 years ago."

Overall, the 2010 MKS impresses reviewers with its solidity and its build quality. "It's silent as a coffin and steady as a rock," Jalopnik proclaims. "We've criticized Ford for cheapish interiors, but it has really bellied up to the bar for the MKS' cabin," Motor Trend concludes. "The design is cool and classy, the materials are excellent, and it is a comfy, roomy place to live."

10

2010 Lincoln MKS

Safety

The 2010 Lincoln MKS provides a strong, safe environment for passengers.

The 2010 Lincoln MKS is among the safest vehicles on the road today.

NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) awards it five stars for all crash tests, save for a four-star rollover rating. The insurance-industry-funded IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) names it a 2010 Top Safety Pick, in a year when it made qualifications for the award stricter.

The MKS 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 drivers, who operate only the gas and brake while the MKS with EcoBoost (and its electric power steering) turns the wheel for perfect parking.

According to Autoblog, even the windshield wipers are smart: "I set the intermittent wipers on their lowest setting to try out the Rain-Sense system. Sure enough, as the volume of rain picked up, so too did the interval shorten and they eventually went into normal continuous mode. As the rain stopped, so did the wipers. No more dry wipers dragging across the windshield."

10

2010 Lincoln MKS

Features

The 2010 Lincoln MKS may have the best entertainment and navigation features of any car on sale today.

Pricing starts at around $42,000 for a front-wheel-drive MKS without any fancy options-but every MKS includes an AM/FM/CD changer with Sirius Satellite Radio and Ford's SYNC voice-activated entertainment controller. Also standard are cruise control; automatic climate control; ventilated front seats; heated front and rear seats; and HID headlamps. An all-wheel-drive edition is a few thousand dollars more.

Automobile sums up the impressive equipment list on the 2010 Lincoln MKS: "Every modern telematics feature is either standard or optional, including a state-of-the-art navigation system with traffic reports supplied by Sirius Satellite Radio." Car and Driver observes that "this is the most advanced and easy-to-use information-technology package on the market, at least for now."

Automobile also notes the "push-button-entry feature that debuted years ago on Lincolns? It returns here...heat-sensitive, backlit numerals integrated into the B-pillar, and they become visible only after you run your hand over them."

The $48,000 MKS with EcoBoost adds 19-inch wheels, MyKey (which sets top speed and seatbelt reminders for younger drivers), a power rear sunshade, push-button start, active park assist, ambient lighting, and automatic high beams. That's "about ten grand more than the base MKS," Jalopnik says, "but only about $4,000 more than an equivalently-optioned non-EcoBoost MKS."

MKS options include a dual-pane sunroof, DVD navigation, wood trim, an EcoBoost appearance package, adaptive cruise control, THX-certified audio, and 20-inch wheels. Motor Trend believes "the optional nav system may be the best on the market." Automobile observes "the optional, 600-watt, sixteen-speaker THX II 5.1 surround sound stereo is absolutely superb, and the interface for controlling it through the high-resolution navigation screen is top-notch."

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