There is a design revolution going on at Lincoln. They are showing that American luxury does not have to come in an old-person style package. It started with the MKZ ’s waterfall grill and angular shapes, and now the new MKS is going for the long-nose, short trunk lid look that is characteristic of sport sedans. This is a language that BMW and Infinity speak well, but the softer ride of the Lincoln shows that it is really putting Lexus in its crosshairs.
Lincoln has a hard line to follow. It needs to make sure that is can still satisfy its current customer base of usually older people while attracting younger buyers to the brand. This means walking a fine line of making a sleek design that’s not too radical, and an interior that’s innovative but not too complicated. With the MKS, it seems to have found the right mix.
This is a good look for Lincoln. Gone is the heavy chrome and big blocky look of its sedans. Replaced is a swoopy design that has defined lines, but are rounded and never sharp. The overall effect is an aggressive design that is oddly inviting. It’s still American, so it uses chrome, but more as an accent than a design crutch.
Lincoln seems to be really looking at the details of his car. A good example is the rear end. Historically its cars have had long and low trunks, but the MKS goes for a sporty look using a tapered rear end with a short deck lid. The rear goes even further by borrowing design cues from the Maserati Quattroporte , and if it’s Italian, it can’t be bad.
The car likes to put on a show when you turn it on. Everything takes a moment to light up, seats move, and its almost like the car comes to life. The navigation system takes a moment to come on, not necessarily to boot software, but in more like a saying “hi” manner. Once it gets going, the screen is a great mix of intuitive touch screen with can be seem in any light brightness. When you leave, the MKS gives a similar goodbye by lifting the steering wheel and pushing the seat back. Its primary function seems to be impressing you passengers, but it may hinder a quick exit and possibly intrude on a back sea passenger.
From the driver’s point of view, the interior is a nice place. It takes design themes from other Ford cars like the Ford Flex SEL and Volvo XC70 we had in our fleet. Gone are the days of same color hard plastic dashboard and center console. Its replaced by a contrasting two-tone dark and light plastic/leather areas that are soft to the touch and well separated by a wood accent strip that runs the length of the front of the car. Very handsome.
Our tester was given some fun “extras”. The seats were long-trip comfortable, but what made them stand out was that they were not only heated, but cooled as well (standard feature). This is certainly a summer must-have — we do a lot of hot weather testing, and any business person knows it’s not polite to show up to a meeting with a sweaty back. Also our tester had and optional dual sunroof for front and back seat passengers. Is it a reason to buy the car? No. Is it very cool? Yes.
American luxury sedans were once known for rides so soft, they would bounce well after hitting a pothole. They were meant for long cruses on straight highways. The MKS is not that car, its evolved into the new idea of American luxury.
The MKS still understands the need for a soft ride. It doesn’t translate all the bumps in the road, but the driver never feels too isolated. If your morning commute consists of an hour-long drive through the countryside, the MKS won’t disappoint, but there are better vehicles for that. For urban driving where a softer ride but sharp steering is necessary, this fits in much better.
The suspension, steering and braking all feel Lexus-like. The power assist from all of the functions work well together not to isolate the driver, but almost seems like to elevate him/her from the everyday road conditions. It doesn’t give the feeling of a bulky luxury car, but rather it drives like an everyday sedan wearing comfortable dress shoes.
Lincoln seemed to use another page from the book of Lexus when it put together the engine. The 3.7-liter, 24 valve V6 seems to be tuned for a smooth power band rather than all-out performance, but because it is a 275 horsepower multi-valve DOHC engine, the power is always quickly on tap.
Our MKS is equipped with all-wheel-drive. This is not meant in the same way as the race-ready A6’s Quattro system, instead this is just a good foul weather friend. In areas of the country where you will enjoy the heated seats for most of the year, the AWD system on the MKS will also be a nice bonus.
This is the right attitude for Lincoln. It knows that not everyone needs the ultra-aggressive 5-Series style of luxury, but it also knows that people like luxury and value. Here is a car that rides and handles well and never makes you question where your $45,600 (base price $39,105) went.
The MKS is the kind of car that won’t offend a retiree trading in his/her old Continental, but it will also not make a thirtysomething feel like asking for an AARP discount for driving one off the lot. It’s a tough balancing act, but it seems Lincoln has added plenty of weight to both sides of the scales.