- Strong turbo acceleration
- Understated yet plush cabin
- Quiet interior
- Almost everything's standard
- Where's the prestige?
- Ponderous and hard to park
- Tight back-seat head room
- Inelegant MyLincoln Touch interface
The 2016 Lincoln MKS offers a kind of luxury that's understated and reserved—although from the driver's seat it's a little more inspiring than you might expect.
With the Town Car long gone, and a new Lincoln Continental flagship sedan still a model year away, the MKS holds down the fort as Lincoln's largest, most luxurious sedan for one more year.
In the meantime, the MKS is something of a sleeper—a comfortable, competent, well-appointed sedan that's also quite quick and athletic. It's a distant relative to the ancient land barge that could describe most Lincoln sedans of the past.
Yet a lot of luxury shoppers might not even consider the MKS, either because of its ubiquitous, unremarkable styling or because of the Lincoln brand itself—which hasn't meant much at all, especially to those on the coasts, for the past several years but is starting to get more of an emphasis on design and technology.
From a design standpoint, the MKS does have a hard time standing out from a crowd that already includes models like the Infiniti Q70 (formerly M37), the latest (sportier and more elegant) Lexus ES, and the soon-to-be head-turning Volvo S90. And that's even before considering the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class—all models that sit perhaps a half-step above due to their sport-sedan pedigree. The MKS has a profile that looks a bit dated in today's market, with a high beltline and short, abbreviated roofline arch. Last year the decklid was reshaped slightly for usability, which brought a winged trim strip across the back, a la Jaguar XJ. Inside, the MKS has a restrained look, with a rather low-set dash, and trims and surfaces that don't quite have the opulence to match luxury-brand alternatives.
The 2016 MKS offers strong performance, although it's by no means dynamically on par with German sport sedans. This is a model that feels strong yet refined and mature—so it's fair to say that it's a luxury car, first and foremost. At the base level there's a 304-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 that moves the car smartly but without much excitement. That engine can be paired with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. From there you can step up to the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, a twin-turbo engine making 365 hp, with standard all-wheel drive that helps put its accessible 350 lb-ft of peak torque to the ground. From the driver's seat, the pull of the EcoBoost engine can easily be mistaken for a V-8, although its ripe, baritone exhaust note is unique.
All powertrain combinations come with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The electric power steering offers a quicker ratio then before, while the suspension uses continuously controlled dampers at all four corners to help improve ride and handling simultaneously. It also adds up to a driving personality that's a little more eager than you might guess. All MKS models come standard with Lincoln Drive Control, providing settings for suspension, steering, and powertrain settings.
What you get inside the MKS is very pleasant. There's all-day comfort in front and good support from the seats, as well as a relatively quiet ride, thanks to an active noise cancellation system. For such a large sedan, it's a bit surprising that head room is so compromised; taller adults will find their heads mashed up against the headliner—the result of the rear glass and arched roofline.
Lincoln has done a decent job in keeping this interior updated in terms of materials (it cut the matte-metallic trim out a few years ago), but this cabin dates back to the 2009 model year. Although the new configurable gauge cluster introduced with the last 2013 refresh are a step forward, the fidgety capacitive-slider controls aren't. This is also the older MyLincoln Touch system, which can be complex to learn, but it has extensive control over the car's functions—so it's essentially sink or swim.
In federal testing, the MKS scores an excellent five-star overall rating, with its only four-star score coming in the rollover analysis. The Lincoln MKS used to earn a place on the IIHS Top Safety Pick list, but this year it misses that due both to a "Poor" small overlap frontal rating and only a "Basic" performance level in the front crash prevention category. There's an optional collision warning system for the MKS, but none of the fully automatic braking systems that are rapidly becoming widely available on luxury cars. Lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and an active-parking system are all optional, though.
From a features and equipment standpoint, the Lincoln MKS has changed very little. Standard equipment includes ventilated and heated front seats; adaptive HID headlamps; rear parking sensors; automatic climate control; and an exterior keypad entry system. Lincoln refers to the base MKS as the Premiere package.
Pricing for the MKS starts at around $40,000 and, fully optioned, reaches heights (nearly $55,000) that are going to seem like silly money to many luxury shoppers outside Dearborn. The Elite Package adds voice-activated navigation, multicontour front seats, premium wood trim, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, a THX II certified sound system, power-adjustable pedals with memory, and a few other extras. A Technology package adds active park assist, lane keeping, and adaptive cruise; and then a Cold-Weather package brings a heated steering wheel and heated outboard rear seats, plus a dual-panel moonroof.
EPA fuel economy ratings are quite good for the MKS, ranging up to 17 mpg city, 26 highway, 20 combined with the 3.7-liter. Add all-wheel drive to that engine and the mileage falls slightly to 17/24/19 mpg. The EcoBoost/all-wheel drive combination isn't all that Eco, though, at 16/24/19 mpg, and you'll likely see lower than that if you take advantage of this powertrain's pep.