Performance » 7
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
[base MKS is a] pretty ordinary luxury car
sweet twin-turbo V-6…laid rubber in the parking lot
delivers smooth and entirely acceptable thrust considering the 4,127 pounds it's required to haul around
you'll find yourself hitting 120 mph like you were taking a walk in the park
big car with a very bad-ass engine which doesn't quite tackle corners with the aplomb we'd like
The 2014 Lincoln MKS isn't really an aggressive performer. It's not rear-wheel drive; there's no overpowered V-8 under the hood. Instead, it feels mature and willing, with a real focus on the car's luxury–but that doesn't make it a slouch.
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 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.
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.
In the EcoBoost edition–a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 now makes 365 hp, 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.
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.
Finally, brakes were upgraded last year--not just for the higher horsepower, but in response to complaints in previous model years that the brakes were fade-prone.
Turbocharged MKS sedans are blazingly fast, but edgy handling isn't so much a priority.