2013 Lincoln MKS Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 14, 2013

The 2013 Lincoln MKS steers away from both traditional American luxury and German sport sedans--and ends up in a good place for those who want a distinctive, well-rounded big sedan.

The 2013 Lincoln MKS is neither a replacement for the legendary Town Car nor a model conceived to chase German sport sedans. Instead it's a bit of a sleeper, a husky, American-sized four-door that delivers surprisingly strong performance, quietly, and may even blow past your expectations for refinement and safety features. Furthermore, the MKS piles on the advanced tech features and luxury extras.

Handsome is what we'd call the stance of the MKS. In a crowded field that includes the Lexus GS, Volvo S80, and Infiniti M37--as well as the new E Class and even the Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series, the MKS is a step bigger, and it has an especially handsome stance. Its thick proportions are the result of the platform underneath, derived from Volvo's XC90 and S80. The high beltline and short, abbreviated roofline arch have their consequences to backseat space, but it works well from the outside. And inside, at least in the front seat, quiet, classy styling is a big contrast with the glitzy showmanship you'll find inside some of these rivals.

For 2013, Lincoln has cut out the matte-metallics and given the interior an understated makeover, also subbing in the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system and a new reconfigurable gauge cluster. Barring the capacitive-slider controls that this system brings, it's MyLincoln Touch and all the included luxury and tech features that make the MKS so tempting. Standard equipment includes ventilated front seats; heated front and rear seats; adaptive HID headlamps; rear parking sensors; automatic climate control; and an exterior keypad entry system. With a Premium Package, you get a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, navigation, premium audio, a power rear sunshade, and blind-spot and cross traffic alert systems; while the Elite Package adds Active Park Assist, Lane Keeping, premium wood trim, and a few other extras. Altogether, you can load an EcoBoost MKS just past the $50k mark--but then you get quite the collection of luxury and tech features, at what might also buy a rather basic German sport sedan.

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That said, you need to be willing to accept performance that's quick and strong, if not perhaps dynamically on par with those true sport sedans. What you get is a strong, mature personality, and a sense that the MKS is a luxury car first and foremost, but it's going to deliver on most fronts. In the EcoBoost edition.a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 now makes 365 hp (10 hp more than last year), and all-wheel drive is mandatory; while models with the base 3.7-liter V-6 come with a 304-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 (31 more than for 2012). You can get the non-turbo version with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Go with the base engine, and you'll get an enthusiastic performer. Opt for the EcoBoost model, with its 350 pound-feet of torque, and you get impressive V-8-like pull, with a little more of a ripe, baritone exhaust note--and fuel economy that's only down 1 mpg versus the base engine (with AWD)--at 17/25 mpg with EcoBoost. The six-speed automatic is a smooth and well-damped companion, and we anticipate that the new electric power steering with a quicker ratio--and continuous damping--will amount to a more eager-driving personality, although we haven't yet driven this 2013 model. Brakes have been upgraded for 2013.

Good looks match up with a very spacious cabin--although the back seat and the rather high beltline don't add up to what you might expect from the outside. Front seats are all-day comfortable, and the MKS interior is supremely quiet on all kinds of surfaces (there's active noise cancellation, too). Additionally, for 2013, Lincoln has reshaped the trunklid to make the big trunk easier to access, with a shorter liftover height.

Finally, if you're concerned about safety, the 2013 Lincoln MKS is one of the best choices you could make. In addition to top-tier occupant protection ratings, the MKS offers a set of available safety features you won't easily find elsewhere at this price. Top Safety Pick status and an excellent five-star overall rating make this a model that protects better than most; and with with adaptive cruise control an option, as well as lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, and an active-parking system, this is a model for those who want the most technology and security with their luxury.

8

2013 Lincoln MKS

Styling

The 2013 Lincoln MKS is graceful and sleek; and this year's modest improvements give it tighter detail inside and out.

The Lincoln MKS has been a slow seller; and that might be a little puzzling at first, as it sure is a handsome sedan. Although Lincoln's identity--both current and future--is as foggy as ever, the MKS is in any case a nicely proportioned luxury sedan, oozing charm from a distance and nicely detailed inside. And, we tend to think that the MKS stands as a quiet, classy counterpoint to Cadillac’s brash CTS—with fit and finish actually a step beyond that in the CTS.

Although the MKS is basically a cousin of the Volvo S80 and pretty closely related to the Ford Taurus, it doesn't look that way. About the only thing it does have in common with the Taurus is its rather short, arched roofline and somewhat high beltline, with a little more overhang in front and in back than is now typical for the class.

The MKS is a classically handsome car, in the Lexus mold, with a large winged grille calling attention to itself a little more insistently than the rest of the car. Visually, Lincoln has made a number of minor changes to the exterior for 2013, and they add to 'suggest' something more significant, even if the proportions haven't changes. The MKS grille has a fine pattern of slats, and the lower airdam is a little more chiseled; meanwhile the hood has been lowered but given a strong middle spine--all of which makes the car look a bit lower and wider from the front. Styling at the rear has been cleaned up as well, with the trunkline following different contours this year.

Inside, we see lots to like, with a linear, spare theme to the cabin design, as well as the sheets of matte-metallic trim banished for 2013. White-lit electroluminescent gauges glow softly at night off its leather and wood trim, with noticeably closer attention to detail. Stitched leather panels replace a few remaining harder surfaces for 2013, and MyFord Touch has been subbed into the interior. Unfortunately, that means a set of capacitive sliders for volume and climate-control functions as well.

7

2013 Lincoln MKS

Performance

The 2013 is more a soothing cruiser than a sport sedan--although EcoBoost models are surprisingly quick.

The 2013 Lincoln MKS doesn't have a lot of 'attitude.' There's no burbling V-8 under the hood; no rear-wheel drive to churn out the burnouts and oversteer like an old pursuit car. Instead what you get is a strong, mature personality, and a sense that the MKS is a luxury car first and foremost, but it's going to deliver on most fronts.

In the EcoBoost edition.a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 now makes 365 hp (10 hp more than last year), and all-wheel drive is mandatory; while models with the base 3.7-liter V-6 come with a 304-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 (31 more than for 2012). You can get the non-turbo version with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Go with the base engine, and you'll get an enthusiastic performer. Based on our time with this powertrain in the Ford Taurus, this engine gets even better passing power without giving up any off-the-line oomph. Everything that's happening with the engine and transmission is carefully damped, though, so you don't get notice that much dramatic is happening. Opt for the EcoBoost model, with its 350 pound-feet of torque, and you get impressive V-8-like pull, with a little more of a ripe, baritone exhaust note--and fuel economy that's only down 1 mpg versus the base engine (with AWD)--at 17/25 mpg with EcoBoost.

A six-speed automatic is standard with either engine. The automatic gets paddle shifters in the EcoBoost MKS, and at first glance, the paddles might seem kitschy in a car of this size. That’s at first blush; a quick turn in the MKS proves the paddles are more useful 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.

Shoppers who consider the MKS are going to have some wide-ranging ideas of how it should respond, and roll over the pavement, so Lincoln has tried to make good on the MKS's ride and handling for 2013 with the introduction of a new active damper system. Three modes give you a range between comfort and sport, while there's a new Lincoln Drive Control system that coordinates steering, transmission, throttle, and stability control responses to a Sport mode when desired.

Finally, brakes have been upgraded for 2013--not just for the higher horsepower, but in response to complaints in ;previous model years that the brakes were fade-prone.

9

2013 Lincoln MKS

Comfort & Quality

The cabin of the 2013 MKS is awash in high-dollar trim, and the front seats are hours-long comfortable, but the interior feels small considering the exterior.

Even among large sedans, the 2013 Lincoln MKS is big. And you'd expect those exterior dimensions to give way to something very cozy for the long haul.

That's true, to a degree. The MKS is a very comfortable, quiet sedan inside, playing the big-car role convincingly, it also provides the support drivers want for sporty driving and highway slogs alike. It puts the brand's floaty ride traditions aside, thankfully. But considering that exterior, the interior space is surprisingly limited.

The long wheelbase does translate into lots of leg room for both front and rear-seat passengers. Those in front get bucket seats that take the best lessons from Volvo; they can coddle with a top layer of softness, and stand firm underneath as the hours and miles pile on. The seats are heated, too, and ventilated, which almost makes up for the nagging active headrests that sit too far forward for our tastes. In tandem with the headrests, we think the MKS' steering column should telescope out a few more inches, since it can force bigger drivers into a closer seating position than they'd like.

Back seats tend to be a bit claustrophobic, as well as limited in headroom, but they're also very supportive, and heated too. Three across is not much of a problem, and two adults can be as distant as they might be after a couple of decades of marriage.

Small-item storage is all over the place. Ford fits enough niches to hide iPhones and netbooks in the MKS, with cup holders for every seating position and a couple of spare water-bottle slots in the doors. The trunk’s large, and Lincoln has made its opening larger, with a lower lip for easier lifting in the 2013.

About the only other thing we aren't big fans of is the absurdly wide center console in front, as well as the new (and mandatory) capacitive sliders for climate control and volume. To everyone but the designers, we ask: What was wrong with knobs?

Although we haven't yet driven the 2013 model, we expect the addition of continuous damping (with three modes) to make a significant contribution to ride quality over rough surfaces. There's also active noise control to help keep the cabin quiet.

10

2013 Lincoln MKS

Safety

The 2013 Lincoln MKS is one of the safest sedans on the road; and some astounding active-safety features provide added reassurance.

If you're concerned about safety, the 2013 Lincoln MKS is one of the best choices you could make. In addition to top-tier occupant protection ratings, the MKS offers a set of available safety features you won't easily find elsewhere at this price.

Both the federal government and the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) have extended their 2012 results to 2013 for the MKS--and that means Top Safety Pick status for the MKS, as well as a top five-star rating overall from the feds.

The MKS also brings out all the standard safety gear you’d expect in a pricier German-built sedan. The big Lincoln has dual front, side, and curtain airbags standard, along with anti-lock brakes and traction and stability control. A rearview camera, automatic wipers and front parking sensors also are standard, while adaptive cruise control is an option; and now for 2013, Lincoln has added lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning, as well as stronger brakes.

Active Park Assist is another safety-related option; it uses sensors and cameras to determine the optimal steering angle, and with the help of the driver on the gas and brake, it “parks” the car.

10

2013 Lincoln MKS

Features

If you gauge luxury sedans more by features than by cachet, the 2013 Lincoln MKS really delivers--at a lower price than rivals.

The level of high-tech gear that's included in the 2013 Lincoln MKS is hard to beat--especially when you consider the price, which is definitely lower than German models its size, or even a size smaller.

Even in the base model, for about $42,000, the MKS comes with satellite and HD radio; ventilated front seats; heated front and rear seats; adaptive HID headlamps; rear parking sensors; automatic climate control; and an exterior keypad entry system, among many other features.

This year, Lincoln has updated the dash somewhat, and added a new reconfigurable gauge cluster, plus MyLincoln Touch, which integrates Bluetooth phone connectivity, audio-streaming, media controls, and even climate controls and navigation. While some will love this system, we're still in a love-hate relationship over how heavy-handed it can be, and we do quite despite the capacitive sliders it brings to climate control and audio volume controls.

Go with the turbocharged MKS EcoBoost, and you add larger 20-inch wheels in addition to all-wheel drive. There's also MyKey, which lets owners set things like speed limiters, volume control and seatbelt reminders for other drivers (think teenagers).

The MKS has a few options to tempt. With the Premium Package, you get a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, navigation, premium audio, a power rear sunshade, and blind-spot and cross traffic alert systems; while the Elite Package adds Active Park Assist, Lane Keeping, premium wood trim, and a few other extras. Altogether, you can load an EcoBoost MKS just past the $50k mark--but then you get quite the collection of luxury and tech features, at what might also buy a rather basic German sport sedan.

6

2013 Lincoln MKS

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is improved for 2013, but the MKS is still no efficiency leader.

The 2013 Lincoln MKS is a big luxury sedan, and despite the introduction of a few more fuel-saving technologies this year it doesn't offer gas mileage that's any better than the norm for a vehicle this size.

Active Grille Shutters, now included in 3.7-liter versions of the MKS, smartly open only when more cooling is needed, reducing aerodynamic drag and improving fuel economy on the highway. Also new for the MKS is a smart battery management system that puts a higher priority on battery charging when coasting or decelerating.

Base versions of the MKS earn EPA ratings of 18/27 mpg--2 mpg better on the highway than last year. That's still quite low figure for a modern V-6-powered sedan. EcoBoost turbo versions with all-wheel drive are rated 17/25, while AWD 3.7-liter versions get 18/26 mpg.

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August 12, 2015
2013 Lincoln MKS 4-Door Sedan 3.5L AWD EcoBoost

Underated luxury

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This 3.5 EcoBoost car will put a lot of other luxury cars to shame , for a lot less $$$$$$$.The car has some faults, for $60.000 they did not make the marrows and trunk automatic . The car is very comfortable... + More »
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July 21, 2015
2013 Lincoln MKS 4-Door Sedan 3.7L AWD

Real American luxury sedan !!!

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Very quiet ride, great seat comfort far superior to our 2011 e350 sport. Excellent ride with very good handling . Power from the standard 3.7 engine good anything 0 to 60 around 6 seconds use to be considered... + More »
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Styling 8.0
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