Fifty-three thousand dollars! I’m tempted to say it again! Fifty-three thousand dollars! What are the chances that any American-branded sedan could be worth this kind of money, particularly in our newly cost-conscious era? Mr. Farago has repeatedly pummeled the “MKTaurus” on these pages, and that was before the price of Lincoln’s big sedan cleared the fifty-K mark. Before we can even get a handle on whether or not the MKS is a good car, it’s critical that we take the competition’s temperature and see just how unjustifiable the pricing is.
We can start with the Lincoln’s distant relative, the 2010 Volvo S80. In V8-powered, all-wheel-drive trim, the Volvo is $50,950. The S80 cannot be equipped quite as thoroughly as the MKS — it cannot park itself, as the MKS can, and there’s nothing to compare with Ford’s SYNC system — but a thoroughly equipped S80 costs about $56K. It’s not as fast as the MKS, it’s not as big as the MKS, and it’s not as gadget-heavy, but it is made in Sweden and it will carry more credibility with your daughter’s friends at any of the Seven Sisters. Call it a draw,
I like the idea of a matchup with the Audi A6 3.0T. The example we tested earlier this year was priced almost dollar-for-dollar with the MKS. I will admit to being an unbashed Audi fan who owns a rather questionably-colored S5 coupe, but of the dozen or so thirtysomethings I put into both the A6 and the MKS, nobody preferred the Audi. The MKS simply murders the Audi in a straight line, on the spec sheet, and on the open road. Only in full-throttle, wet-road situations or around a racetrack does the Audi’s superior driveline pedigree reveal itself. There’s never any torque steer from an A6. On the other hand, perhaps if the Audi had as much power as the Lincoln there would be more danger of torque steer. Nor does a low-option A6 feel quite as special as the “Ultimate Package” MKS inside. This round goes to the challenger from Dearborn.
Lexus doesn’t offer an AWD GS460, and the GS350 is outgunned in this comparison. If we equip an Infiniti M45 AWD to match, we are well past $62K and it still won’t hang with the MKS in a straight line. As with the Audi, I prefer the layout of the M45’s AWD system, which avoids the annoyances of a transverse engine and the attendant wandering steering wheel. Still, the M45 has neither space nor pace to match the MKS. Acura offers a facelifted RL, about which the less said the better.
At the end of this little market-pricing journey, we have to conclude that the “MKTaurus” offers pretty decent value for the money. You won’t get more for less anywhere else, and in EcoBoost form, the Lincoln is genuinely rapid. Taurus SHO owners are already dipping into high twelve-second quarter-mile times with nothing more than an ECU reflash and premium fuel. The MKS would be capable of the same feat. Previous-generation BMW M3s should, perhaps, worry. I personally smoked an SLK55 AMG in a 0-60 sprint for a two-into-one lane merge, primarily due to the traction advantage. While his traction control was stutter-stepping the back tires along a rather chilly fall Ohio road, the MKS had briefly spun the fronts and shaken the wheel before redirecting drive to the rear for a steam-catapult launch.
You can get this same twist in a thirty-eight-grand Taurus “Show”, however, so to justify the markup the MKS needs to feel special in a way that numbers can’t describe. After putting substantial drive time behind the wheel of the Taurus and the MKS, I wouldn’t hesitate too long before spending the extra money for the Lincoln. It’s much quieter on the freeway — as quiet as any D-class German under most circumstances — and it rides impeccably.
The less-than-cultured responses at the steering wheel that plague the D3 Fords have been tidily addressed with the new EPAS electronic steering. Not only does EPAS exchange the syrupy, indistinct direction-finding of the standard car for a vibration-free, variable-effort smoothness, it also permits the MKS to park itself. This feature works like a charm, and best of all it works in the middle of the night. Even the best parallel-park artists need light to operate, but the MKS can and does park itself in a situation where it’s too dark to see the curb.
I will readily admit my personal biases here. Not only do I thoroughly approve of the D3-platform Fords, I also find that after a long weekend of club racing in cars with 800-pound springs and open headers it’s a genuine pleasure to drive home in a car like this. It’s no BMW wannabe. It’s not even a sporty sedan, Lincoln’s aggressive “starship” marketing aside. It’s a big, comfy, wickedly fast cocoon, with a kick-ass sound system and cruise control that effortlessly slows the car on its own when some mouth-breather swings into the left lane. In other words, it’s a convincing American luxury car, and that’s enough for me.
Overall rating: 4/5 stars
One of the fastest sedans you can buy for the money.
It would need a longer wheelbase to be any better.
It’s not a sports sedan.
I like the bird-of-prey front end, but it’s an awkwardly-proportioned car.
Easily a match for the competition.
FIT AND FINISH: 4/5
Panel gaps are big in places.
It parks itself!
MKS owners will still have to do some explaining to the neighbors.
PRICE AS TESTED: $53,600 (approx.)