The Lincoln MKS will the brand’s largest and most luxurious sedan, until the new Lincoln Continental arrives at dealerships.
Rather than parading its presence, Lincoln MKS represents a different sort of luxury: subtle, reserved, understated. Potential buyers who’ve passed it up might be wise to take another look.
On the road, the MKS is competent on the road, comfortable, and quiet. And it can be spirited, when equipped with the optional 3.5-liter turbocharged V6.
The MKS offers a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The MKS cabin is nicely appointed, but understated. Lincoln has kept it up to date by focusing on high-quality, plush materials, but the cabin design is behind the times, dating from 2009.
Fortunately, Lincoln has been replacing the outmoded MyLincoln Touch interface system, which wasn’t easy to learn or use, with much-improved Sync 3. Otherwise, nothing has changed for the 2016 model year, except for the trunk exterior.
In crash-testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the MKS has earned a five-star overall rating, scoring four stars only in the rollover category. Although the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety used to name MKS a Top Safety Pick, that’s no longer true because of scores in small-overlap and frontal crash-prevention testing.
The 2016 Lincoln MKS 3.7 Premiere ($39,010) comes with the 3.7-liter V6, heated/ventilated front seats, adaptive HID headlights, rear parking sensors, automatic climate control, and 19-inch alloy wheels. The MKS 3.7 AWD ($41,005) adds all-wheel drive.
The MKS 3.5 AWD EcoBoost Twin Turbo ($46,000) includes the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and 20-inch wheels.
An Elite Package adds navigation, multi-contour front seats, premium wood trim, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, THX II certified sound, and power-adjustable pedals with memory. A Technology package includes active parking assist, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. A collision warning system is optional, but automatic-braking is not. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Compared to its rivals, the Lincoln MKS looks antiquated. Its behind-the-times styling is accentuated by a high beltline, as well as the short, abbreviated arch of its roofline. For 2015, the decklid was reshaped slightly, to make it easier to use. Otherwise, not much has changed in the MKS’s lifetime.
Several major competitors, including the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, qualify as sports sedans.
Though pleasant and inviting, the interior of the MKS appears restrained, with a low-set dashboard. Surfaces and trim pieces lack the level of opulence that would match the cabins in alternative luxury sedans.
In comfort, the MKS scores better. Front occupants can expect to feel comfortable during day-long journeys, helped by good seat support. Thanks to active noise cancellation, the ride is comparatively quiet. The reconfigurable gauge cluster in each MKS is most welcome, but its touchy slide controls annoy.
For a sedan of this size, headroom, especially in the back seat, falls short. Heads of taller occupants are likely to brush against the headliner. The reason for this snugness is simple enough: an arched roofline, combined with the shape of the back glass.
Acceleration with either engine is strong, as well as mature and refined, though performance doesn’t approach that from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The standard 304-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 propels the MKS smartly enough, if short on fervor, but that’s hardly a deficit for most likely owners. Front-wheel and all-wheel drive are available.
Only all-wheel drive is offered with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 twin-turbo engine, which generates 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. An EcoBoost-equipped MKS feels almost like a V8, though the exhaust has a sound all its own. Each powertrain works with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Despite its uninspired look, the MKS has a more eager personality than you might expect. This sizable four-door might even be called a tad nimble. Then again, that trait has to be balanced against an overall ponderous feel, making the MKS somewhat difficult to park. At any rate, it’s far removed from those best-forgotten land yachts that Lincoln once turned out.
Electric power steering provides a quicker ratio than in the past. To better balance ride/handling characteristics, the MKS suspension uses continuously-controlled dampers all around. All MKS models have Lincoln Drive Control, with settings to adjust the steering, suspension, and powertrain.
For a full-size sedan, fuel-economy ratings aren’t bad, EPA-rated at 19/28 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined with the 3.7-liter engine. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 18/26 mpg City/Highway. The EcoBoost engine sinks it further yet, to 17/25 mpg City/Highway.
The Lincoln MKS offers satisfying performance with a luxury aura.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.