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Ford’s Lincoln brand has won the survival sweepstakes. While sister division Mercury is being shuttered, Lincoln’s on a new-product roll. In the past two years, it’s added three new vehicles, including an updated version of the mid-size MKZ sedan—with a hybrid coming in 2011—and the big, bodacious MKT crossover.
The MKS sedan was new for 2009, and it’s a bit of a sleeper. Priced against the likes of the Acura RL, Lexus GS, and Infiniti M37, the Lincoln MKS has some substantial charms of its own that outweigh those competitors. For one, it’s offered with Ford’s turbocharged V-6 for swift acceleration on par with the M37, while it also has the well-damped ride to top the other Japanese competitors.
It falls short of the driving experience offered by these cars—and by the more expensive BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class—but the MKS plays up a traditional feel without the floppy compromises of the past intruding too much. The ride’s the beginning; not exactly nimble, the MKS still steers and responds to quick inputs well enough to carve a distinct niche out of the field of large luxury sedans.
Where does the MKS excel? In features and cabin feel. The quiet, classy styling inside and out is a marked counterpoint to Cadillac’s brash CTS—and the MKS’s fit and interior finishes are a step beyond the Caddy’s pieces, too. The MKS’s handsome looks are matched with a very spacious cabin, particularly in the rear seat, and a capacious trunk. It’s also one of the IIHS’s Top Safety Picks. For gadget collectors, there’s all-wheel drive like the Acura RL has, as well as first-rate audio and telematics systems—not to mention Ford’s SYNC entertainment and phone controller.
So why’s it still a sleeper? It’s probably the Lincoln badges, but with well-executed cars like the MKS, that’s apt to change.