The 2009 Lincoln MKS performs well enough to earn its luxury status, but its handling is more notable than its acceleration.
A new 275-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 powers the MKS. The engine performs adequately, with a high degree of smoothness and little noise or fuss. While premium fuel is required to hit the 275-hp mark, using regular fuel delivers a still healthy helping of horsepower with no change in fuel economy (17/24 mpg for front-wheel drive and 16/23 mpg for all-wheel drive).
Edmunds said "the MKS is motivated by a more powerful version of the Duratec motor…bored slightly to increase displacement to 3.7 liters.” As a reminder, they noted that “if you use 87 octane in the MKS, the peak power drops to 273 hp and torque totals 270 lb-ft." Power is adequate in the MKS, but not lavish; Jalopnik wrote, "My concerns about pickup and handling were pretty much assuaged when I had to take a left turn across 4 lanes of highway traffic to head back to D.C. and laid rubber in the parking lot." Popular Mechanics agreed, noting the "3.7-liter V6 delivers smooth and entirely acceptable thrust considering the 4,127 pounds it's required to haul around. In other words, this isn't exactly the hot rod Lincoln of yore.”
Automobile notes, "Those thirsty for V-8-style power will have to wait until next spring, when the MKS will be the first recipient of Ford's new, twin-turbo, direct-injection, 3.5-liter V-6 engine," which Lincoln promises will deliver the "performance of a V-8 with the fuel efficiency of a V-6." Estimates are for 340 hp, 340 pound-feet of torque, and an estimated 23 mpg on the freeway.
The new Lincoln's six-speed automatic is seen in other Ford products such as the Edge, but has been thoroughly recalibrated for this upscale installation. In the MKS, the transmission includes a sport mode as well as manual shift capabilities. Throughout the hills of Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C., with the transmission in the sport setting, the gearbox shifted aggressively. Its performance was close to anticipatory and did an excellent job of keeping the Lincoln in the right gear at the right time—just what an automatic transmission should do. Popular Mechanics felt “the 6-speed's ratios are well chosen, but aggressive driving can lead to unpredictable downshifts—on several occasions we attempted passes which required one, then another kickdown.” Motor Trend “preferred the Sport Drive mode the most, which means quicker up- and downshifts, yet there is little need to opt for the Manual mode.”
Another bright spot for the 2009 MKS is its chassis. The MKS features a totally new multilink rear suspension (not shared with the Ford Taurus or any Volvo) with coil-over shocks and a retuned front strut suspension, then bolts them both to a reinforced chassis that is 35 percent stiffer than the current Taurus. The resulting ride is Goldilocks taut: not too soft and not too hard, even with the optional 20-inch wheels. Steering response is quick, and while driving at street speeds, the understeer one expects from a largish front-wheel-drive sedan is totally absent. The MKS is also available with all-wheel drive.
Commenting on the 2009 MKS's new chassis, Autoblog wrote, "Moving the [rear] dampers closer to the wheels allows for greater travel, thus improving their effectiveness. The extra travel allows greater latitude for the engineers to tune the damping behavior for the optimum balance between comfort and handling. On the road all of this works remarkably well." Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard, while 19- and 20-wheels are optional. The bigger wheels “fill the wheel wells nicely,” but Popular Mechanics points out “they also transmit road imperfections resulting in a somewhat busy ride. Big concrete expansion joints and potholes send a bit too much motion up into the cabin, but the MKS certainly handles big sweeping turns with stability and confidence.” Autoblog adds that the car's interior "calm isn't disturbed by the action at the road either. Even with low profile rubber on those big wheels, occupants don't take a beating…the new suspension setup proved its worth." Motor Trend says that overall, “The car drives with a substantial feel, yet is never ponderous.”
As for the Lincoln MKS’s brakes, Motor Trend notes that they “feel linear, responsive, and feel as though they have plenty of stopping power in reserve.”