There’s a big V-6 under the hood, but the Lincoln MKS has a secret: a turbocharged edition that spins out enthusiastic, ersatz V-8 power to go with a buttoned-down chassis.
Ford’s stock 3.7-liter V-6 performs smoothly, but it’s just average in a car as long and hefty as the MKS. The same truisms apply as with the Lexus GS 350 and the Volvo S60; you’ll get through a 0-60 mph run in 7.5 seconds in a sedate, fuss-free way. It can be run with either regular or premium fuel, and the MKS delivers EPA-certified fuel economy of 17/24 mpg as a front-driver, or 16/23 mpg when equipped with all-wheel drive.
The real thrills come with the turbo-saddled EcoBoost V-6. The addition of forced induction does wonders for its attitude; the turbo MKS gains 82 hp for a total of 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, and it straps you in for a ride to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, as well as a top speed of 135 mph. All the while, it delivers a suitably ripe, refined exhaust sound--and better fuel economy than the base engine, earning 17/25 mpg.
With either engine, you’ll get a six-speed automatic. In the EcoBoosted MKS, the automatic adds paddle shifters that strike us as 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.
The turbo power carries the hint of European influence, but the MKS handles with a typically American feel--I’ll qualify that to “American, circa 2010.” There’s nothing at all wrong with the MKS’s pleasantly damped ride and responsive steering, though the electric steering on EcoBoost models feels artificial. It’s just a larger sedan that manages to drive a bit smaller than it is, not too soft and not too hard, even with the optional 20-inch wheels.