Realizing its Mesozoic-era Town Car was destined for the tar pits, Lincoln strived to create a front-drive sedan that would make its traditional demographic of greying motorists forget their rear-drive dinosaurs, along with what they had for breakfast.
Although the new-for-2009 Lincoln MKS incorporated a thoroughly modern unibody platform, it cast a shadow big enough to ensure nobody mistook it for an Asian econobox.
“I was looking for three basic criteria in a new car: V8 power, rear legroom for my in-laws and a large trunk, which would easily fit my golf clubs. The MKS (has) all of this in spades!” reads one enthusiastic owner’s post.
In reality, sir, it scored two out of three.
The full-size MKS went on sale in the summer of 2008. Not only was it big, but Lincoln’s new flagship was long in the inseam, too.
“The first thing you notice is the seating position is upright and high, like a crossover,” observed another owner online.
The MKS used Ford’s D3 platform, which had also underpinned several Volvos, as well as the unlamented Ford Five Hundred. The chassis was updated to improve rigidity, reduce noise and harshness, and make a good home for the new independent multilink rear suspension.
Designers resurrected some time-honoured Lincoln traits, including the split-wing grille (inspired by the 1941 Continental) and leather from Scotland’s Bridge of Weir.
The dashboard featured simple white-on-black instrumentation, with understated brightwork to augment the genuine olive-ash wood trim. The buckets seats were both heated and cooled, and bolstered correctly.
The sedan bristled with technology, including Microsoft’s Sync interface and Bluetooth connectivity. The widescreen display was mounted high, brilliantly illuminated and offered intuitive menus to aid, not frustrate, the driver. Other goodies included pushbutton ignition, HID headlamps and optional adaptive cruise control.
The MKS was launched with an all-aluminum DOHC 3.7-L V6 that wasn’t shared with other Ford products. A bored-out version (by 3 mm) of the 3.5-L Duratec V6, it made 273 hp and 270 lb.-ft. of torque using regular gas, and 275 hp and 276 lb.-ft. when burning premium.
The engine was tied to a six-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift manumatic gear selection. The Volvo-derived platform brought with it the Haldex all-wheel-drive system, a popular option.
To silence critics who groused that the MKS felt underpowered, Ford delivered its EcoBoost twin-turbo, 3.5-L V6 for the 2010 model year, with 355 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque on tap.
The optional, direct-injected engine came bundled with standard all-wheel drive and a stouter six-speed automatic transmission with revised gear ratios.
The MKS wouldn’t be updated again until 2013.
ON THE ROAD
The base model with its naturally aspirated 273-hp V6 took an unremarkable 7.5 seconds to attain 96 km/h. Conversely, the EcoBoost was a veritable hot-rod Lincoln, taking just 5.4 seconds and vanquishing the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds. Turbo lag was imperceptible.
The MKS’s ride and handling were tuned to emulate a Lexus rather than a Bimmer. The steering was accurate and not overly boosted, while communicating some good road feel. The Ecoboost adopted electric steering and stiffer suspension bits, which worked even better.
Unfortunately, fuel economy was nothing to boast about; some owners reported decent numbers while others scarcely made 15 L/100 km (16 mpg) in the city.
“Used to get 21 mpg with my eight-cylinder Town Car!” posted one disgruntled MKS owner of his former, fossilized sled.
WHAT OWNERS SAY
MKS pilots adore the sedan’s fit and finish, coddling furnishings, helpful interface and considerable presence. At the same time, owners wonder why the Lincoln nameplate garners little notice among neighbours.
Perceived quality may have something to do with it. Consumer Reports suggests reliability is well below average, although we didn’t find many complaints online. That may be due to the fact MKS owners are thin on the ground.
The most common concern is grinding brake noise, attributable to poor brake caliper anchor brackets, which can cause abnormal brake wear. Ford has made revised parts available.
Fluid leaks traced to the axle area have been reported. Red fluid is from the transmission; brown fluid is from the power transfer unit on all-wheel-drive models. Leaking seals should be attended to promptly.
Other repair issues include faulty radios and Sync units, jerky transmissions, recalcitrant power door locks, fast-wearing wheel bearings and rattling sunroofs.
We would like to know about your ownership experience with these models: Hyundai Santa Fe, Acura TSX and Chrysler 300. Email: email@example.com.
2009-’12 Lincoln MKS
What’s Best: First-class cabin materials, tall seating position, plunging depreciation.
What’s Worst: Underwhelming base engine, poor rear visibility, blinged-out Taurus.
Typical GTA prices: 2009: $19,000, 2012: $33,000
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