2011 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost Review
The MKS combines the Lincoln brand's strengths, both modern and classic
When the young parking attendant turned the car over to me, he said, “Boy, this Lincoln is a BIG car!” That provided a bit of a chuckle. Sure it’s a rather large vehicle by modern standards, but for those who grew up with the land yachts of the Lincoln brand’s past, it seems like a svelte speedboat.
1. Powered by the same twin-turbo 3.5L V6 as in the Ford Taurus SHO, the MKS EcoBoost makes 355-hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.
2. EcoBoost models come standard with all-wheel drive.
3. MKS models start at $41,500 with EcoBoost versions jumping to $48,390.
4. Optional extras include 20-inch wheels, an EcoBoost appearance package inside and out, plus adaptive cruise control.
A 1963 Lincoln had yards of slab sided steel reaching 213-inches from front to back, weighed in at two-and-a-half tons, and rode on a pillowy soft 123-inch wheelbase. One could move the steering wheel 10 degrees on either side of dead center with barely a move of the front wheels. Making a right turn at anything above parade speed would send one’s girlfriend sliding across the bench leather seat and right into the driver’s outstretched right arm – a feature not listed in the sales brochure, but often a valuable benefit to the driver nonetheless. But at the time, when no self respecting investment banker, captain of industry, or Mafia Don would be caught dead in a Mercedes Benz or BMW, it was the height of conspicuous luxury consumption.
Flash forward to today and the Lincoln MKS is still among the top of the luxury car list, but in a smaller, leaner, and much different driving package. It is nearly a foot shorter in both wheelbase and overall length as the Lincolns of yore, and about 800 lbs. lighter. And this Lincoln MKS puts handling and performance at the top of the priority checklist, with no sacrifice to luxury comforts.
ECOBOOST V6 BRINGS SERIOUS TORQUE
Our test car was outfitted with Lincoln’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo, direct injected V6. It is designed to offer all the power of a V8, with the fuel economy of a V6. The power is certainly there, and considering the size of this machine, fuel mileage is too, at 17/25-mpg.
On tap is 355 horsepower at 5,700 rpm - but it’s the 350 lb-ft of torque that reaches it peak at only 3500 rpm that makes this engine so sweet for everyday driving. You’ll hit 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, and you awaken the twin turbo boost when you press hard on the accelerator when moving out to pass on a two lane road. No turbo lag, just power. And all that power comes on smoothly and with just enough exhaust note to let you know you’ve got some grunt under the hood.
COMFORTABLE YET AGILE
The EcoBoost engine is mated to a Selectshift 6-speed transmission with quick-shifting steering wheel paddles, and power is sent to all four wheels to aid in handling and safety. Naturally, the MKS has all the requisite traction and stability controls, which mean that the electronics will automatically transfer power to the wheels with the most traction so that on rain or snow-covered roads the driver feels more in control of the car.
Aiding in the handling department is light yet responsive steering, while solid brakes easily handle the task of slowing the big machine.
Ironically, Lincoln used the old Continental name in reference to the European Continent, to give the impression that the car would fit is just as well in Monaco, as in Manhattan. The reality was that European cars were always built for the narrow and twisting roads of their native land and Lincolns would be as out of place in that environment as Lindsay Lohan in a re-hab facility. But not this MKS. The ride is plush, but firm enough to corner with little body roll, and the suspension keeps the car planted all the way through sharp turns, even soaking up potholes in the road mid-corner.
LUXURY INTERIOR, WITH ALMOST EVERY OPTION
Inside the spacious cabin, Lincoln uses the full vocabulary for what luxury car buyers look for. Stylish, but with a good handle on luxurious understated elegance. It has everything you’d want in an executive level interior, including an enormous amount of rear seat legroom, and a large trunk. There’s a handsome electroluminescent dash gauge package, as well as soft-touch double stitched leather that covers the dash, doors and center console. Thin strips of brushed aluminum trim dot the cabin – again not too flashy, just enough to look classy. The dual panel moonroof allows light to flood the cabin, and the fabric wind deflector works so well at diffusing the airflow into the cabin, no driver or passenger will ever need to worry about messing one’s hair when it’s open.
The center stack is dominated by a large Navigation screen that also provides the driver with the ability to control almost everything in the car. And with Ford’s SYNC System, the driver can control music through the THX Sound system, telephone, and the Nav system with voice activation. All of the controls in the cabin are well laid out and easy to use. Another great feature is Adaptive Cruise Control.
One might take issue with the perforated heated and cooled front seats. They have a rather short seat bottom, which might catch some drivers at an uncomfortable place on the thigh, a few inches above the knee. On longer trips it can be irritating, as is the somewhat intrusive forward cant to the active headrests. Also, with all the amenities, it seems odd that Lincoln didn’t include electrically adjustable pedals for the gas and brake, as they fit on many less expensive cars. And while the ignition is push button, you still have to manually unlock the front door with the fob, or by pressing in a code on the door’s electric keypad. It would be better to just walk up to the car and be able to open the door.
The Lincoln MKS starts at $41,500, with the 3.7L V6 engine with 273-hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, and a nice list of standard features and amenities. Our test car, the EcoBoost with all-wheel-drive, starts at $48,390. Included was the Rapid Spec Option Package for $3,500, with a voice activated Nav system, with rear view camera, and the THX Sound System.
The $2,995 EcoBoost Appearance Package adds 20-inch cast wheels, and some logo mats and trim, and the leather wrapped steering wheel with redundant controls for the electronics. Add in $535 for Active Park Assist, and $1,295 for the Adaptive Cruise Control and with destination charge, you bottom line is $57,310 as tested – that serious luxury car territory.
A stand-out compared to conventional full-size sedans, the Lincoln’s qualities have only recently been challenged by the new Chrysler 300. Hyundai’s Genesis Sedan, updated for 2012, is a solid RWD rival also worth a look, and if you’ve got cash to burn there is the Infiniti M56.
When compared to traditional Japanese and European full-sized rivals, the MKS is a bargain, offering excellent power, solid handling and refined craftsmanship.