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2012 Lincoln MKS Performance

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If you're looking for V-8 power in a big Lincoln sedan, the MKS will disappoint. But that's where the gloom ends, because the basic MKS and its solid performance gets an eight-cylinder equivalent with turbocharging in the EcoBoost edition.

The standard 274-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 is a smooth performer, almost enthusiastic at the chore in front of it--moving a roughly 4000-pound sedan like a German engine would. Lincoln commits to a 0-60 mph time of about 7.5 seconds for this version, and there's not much reason to doubt it, though the careful damping of engine noise and the car's bulk don't let on that anything dramatic is happening. It's not sedate, but it acts as if it is, and it pushes the MKS down the road in an affable, fuss-free way.

It's always a soothing cruiser, but with turbocharging, the 2012 Lincoln MKS reels off sportscar-like acceleration.

It's in the turbocharged EcoBoost edition where the power gets heady, and here the 3.5-liter MKS spins out enthusiastic, ersatz V-8 power to go with its composed chassis. The turbo MKS punches out an additional 82 hp, for 355 hp in all, and 350 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 mph times fall to about 6.5 seconds, and top speed rises to 135 mph. For a V-6, the EcoBoost has a refined and ripe exhaust note All the while, it delivers a suitably ripe, refined exhaust sound--and better fuel economy than the base engine, earning 17/25 mpg.

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.

The turbo power carries the hint of European influence, but the MKS handles with a typically American feel--qualified as “American, circa 2012.” 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.

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