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Perhaps at last the 2014 Lincoln MKS will be able to emerge from the shadows of its ancestors now that the gigantic, ancient Town Car has been gone from showrooms for a couple of years. The MKS is far from that ancient land barge; it's a husky four-door premium sedan built for American-sized people that is actually something of a sleeper. It piles on the luxury features, with a generous dose of advanced technology for a car now in its sixth model year, but it's also a surprisingly stronger performer--even if you'd never know it from the outside.
The crowded segment of mid-size to large sedans in the near-luxury class includes a number of worthy competitors to the MKS. The Infiniti TK (nee M37), Lexus GS, and Volvo S80 compete directly, though the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class are all full luxury brands. Against that set of vehicles, the Lincoln MKS is a bit larger, with that much more shoulder room inside--especially in front. The high beltline and short, abbreviated roofline arch impinge on backseat space, but the handsome stance works well from the outside even if its proportions are think and somewhat high-waisted.
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. Front seats are all-day comfortable, and the MKS interior is supremely quiet on all kinds of surfaces (there's active noise cancellation, too).
The MKS' performance is quick and strong, but perhaps not dynamically on par with true sport sedans like the better E-Class and 5-Series four-doors. It has a strong, mature personality--it's a luxury car, first and foremost. In the EcoBoost edition.a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 now makes 365 hp, and all-wheel drive is mandatory; the base version works with a 304-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6.
You can order the non-turbo version with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Go with the base engine, and you'll get a reasonably enthusiastic performer. Opt for the turbocharged MKS model, with its 350 pound-feet of torque, and you get impressive V-8-like pull, plus more of a ripe, baritone exhaust note--and a fuel-economy rating just 1 mpg lower than the base engine paired with AWD. (We should note, however, that some EcoBoost engines prove to return real-world numbers considerably below their ratings.) 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 an MKS with this update.If you're concerned about safety, the Lincoln MKS is one of the best choices you can 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.
Last year, Lincoln cut out the matte-metallics and gave the interior an understated makeover, also subbing in the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system and a new reconfigurable gauge cluster. The capacitive-slider controls can be fidgety; MyLincoln Touch can be complex to learn, but it has extensive control over the car's functions, so it's essentially sink or swim. 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 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.
- Conservatively styled
- Rippling turbo power
- A hushed cabin
- Almost everything's standard
- Cabin is understated
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- Badge lacks prestige
- Feels as big as it is
- Back-seat head room is slim
- MyLincoln Touch is complex