By on June 4, 2008

09lincolnmks_09_hr.jpgFord's "premium" car lineup is engaged in a deadly game of last brand standing. Now that Jaguar, Range Rover and Aston Martin are casualities of war (i.e. someone else's problem), it's down to Volvo and Lincoln. Official denials aside, Volvo's the next to go. Lincoln must carry that weight (a long time). And so we meet the front wheel-drive-based Lincoln MKS, Ford's first post-Carmageddon (karmageddon?) luxury car. Has Lincoln's sibs' dismissal finally liberated the brand from badge-engineered mediocrity? 

Genetically, no. The MKS is built on the same platform underpinning the Ford Taurus, Mercury Sable, several Volvos and the Ford Flex (sort of). So if you want to represent the streets and diss the MKS' D3ness, you can slight the big Lincoln as a tarted-up Taurus or a cheaped-out Volvo. Luckily for Lincoln, the brand's current core audience has no idea what I'm talking about.

09lincoln_mks_10_hr.jpgThe MKS' design is as inoffensive/memorable as its nomenclature. The split grill is meant to become a brand trademark, created to stop the Lincoln logo from getting lost in the chrome (what logo?). Despite the nasal blingery, the car's British-born designer claims the Lincoln owner views the MKS as a "reward for hard work, not simply an outward symbol of status." Just as well, really. The MKS scores an F on the all-important Mom test (would your mom recognize it immediately). Still, there are some charming features, such as the too-small taillights cribbed from a Maserati Quattroporte. 

The MKS' interior was designed by two different teams. The top half of the cabin (everything from chest level and up) is fantastic. There are nothing but soft touch plastics, trendy stitched soft leather(ette?) on the dashboard, buckets of genuine chromium and a beautiful horizontal strip of wood.

Let's call that wood strip the 38th Parallel. The lower half of the center stack is rock hard, festooned with two counter-intuitive, tightly gathered groupings of small radio and HVAC buttons. Below that: dead space, like some kind of polyurethane desert. Rather than add a cubby or storage area at the bottom of the center stack, buyers of the Aluminum Applique Package are treated to a giant six-inch wide chrome "LINCOLN"– just in case they thought they were driving a top-spec Ford Taurus.

09lincolnmks_02_hr.jpgThe first-for-Ford application of the enlarged Duratec 35 sits under the MKS' demure hood. The 3.7-liter V6 stumps-up 275hp and 270 ft.-lbs. of twist, feasting on regular gas. It's a far smoother and more flexible powerplant than GM's 3.6-liter six-pot, easily on par with the best of the Japanese V6 engines. For real.

Unfortunately, this sparkling piece of engineering is under house arrest, guarded by a sadistic six-speed autobox named Sucko the Clown. In the interests of fuel economy, it shifts into sixth gear at any speed above 0 miles per hour. Passing, maintaining speed up inclines, and merging all cause the box to reach for a bottle of Advil. The whole bottle.

If NSAID suicide isn't your bag, you can shift the transmission in auto-manual mode, or just lock it into SST mode (I kid you not). This tranny setting holds on to the gears for much longer (at times too long), harnessing the Lincoln's otherwise grazing horses. So configured, the MKS is a reasonably quick car. Seat of pants estimate: zero to 60mph in about seven seconds.

09lincolnmks_12_hr.jpgNeedless to say, the SST setting exacts a significant fuel economy penalty. I didn't measure the mpg because my actuary is off this week, but when the ostensibly efficiency-oriented "Drive" setting yields 16/23 (AWD model), you know it's not looking good for the sportier transmission setup.

And how does it handle? Yes. It handles. The game here isn't track daze, or high speed cornering, or anything even vaguely involving so-called "sportiness." It's all about the ride. The MKS' new, fully-independent rear suspension makes cobblestone streets your bitch. Also in terms of handling, the MKS is sound-deadened to the point of rigor mortis. Ambulance drivers better hope MKS buyers have keen peripheral vision.

The suspension is the ace up the sleeve for the MKS, a car that desperately needs four of a kind. Even on class-exclusive 20" wheels, you can sink into the supple leather chairs, pile on the highway miles and never remember a thing.

09lincolnmks_07_hr.jpgLincoln aimed for a base hit here, and by God they got one. It's too bad, because you can't come back from three runs down by taking the safest route. Had Lincoln swung for the fences, we might well have seen a very different MKS: a signature car for reborn brand. But they didn't, or couldn't. At this point, my advice is to buy a fully-loaded Mercury Sable instead or buy something used with genuine upmarket cachet. 

[Ford provided the car, travel, gas and insurance.]

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82 Comments on “2009 Lincoln MKS Review...”

  • avatar

    So basically, Lincoln made a car for its current aging demographic, and a competitor to the Cadillac DTS?


    It looks like an Infiniti G35 from the side, except that it has longer overhangs.


    Thanks for the review anyway! Hope you stayed awake at the wheel.

  • avatar

    Your description of the transmission had me laughing hard — thanks for that!
    If gas was a buck-and-a-half a gallon, you could re-program the tranny EEPROM for a nice response and have a nice car.
    But these days, the ‘high-as-a-Checker Marathon’ AWD platform just serves to penalize the driver at every fill-up.
    So, the demographic of this car kind of reads like this:
    A patriotic retiree with a guaranteed pension, driving his wife of 40 years to a bridge party, then himself to the country club.
    How many of these are still around?

  • avatar

    Looks like a very nice car. If suddenly every Cadillac ever made were to vaporize, this would be on my list for consideration.

  • avatar

    The stuff on the IP is leatherette. If you want leather there, buy an XKF–with the Premium Package.

    I’m actually looking forward to test driving one of these. I can’t exactly identify why. But I am.

    I’d love to say that TrueDelta will have quick reliability results on the car, but that will depend on healthy sales. So maybe, maybe not.

    The Five Hundred / Taurus has been very reliable from 2006 on. This car is likely to be similar.

  • avatar

    That design has more weak derivatives than a Bear Sterns portfolio. Imitation, flattery, etc, but without the badging, I wouldn’t have even guessed it was American.

  • avatar

    A large car with a V6, good ride, long headlights, and a split front grille?

    It sounds (and looks) like Lincoln built the newest generation of the Pontiac Bonneville.

  • avatar

    It’s been a long time since Lincoln had a car that was (somewhat) unique and didn’t suck. This is a good replacement for the LS, 5 years too late.

    Too bad the ecoboost wasn’t ready in time for introduction — Lincoln might have made some waves with it, the way the G35 did when it came out.

    I wish Lincoln well, but what they really need is a new Town Car. Maybe a luxurious AWD Ecoboosted version of the Flex could fill that role.

  • avatar

    Wow, how’d you get an MKS so quickly, Justin? (EDIT: I read the blog)

    I sat in one, the worst part of the interior is that there’s no wood trim on the doors, only the dash. Nice seats, especially the theater style rear bench. That, and the mail slot trunk hole is a joke.

    Sounds like it handles like the old Five Hundred/Montego did: respectably.

    The derivative styling says it all: Pontiac in front, Jaguar on the side and Maserati in the back :even with 8600 pre-ordered for the loyalists, the MKS is will on its way to being another D3 dud.


  • avatar

    They shouldn’t replace the LS with a FWD/AWD car. If they completely abandon the Town Car, then Lincoln is no longer a RWD competitor. Lincoln was always known for being a RWD based luxury brand – why change now?

    The MKS is a decent looking car, but not enough to make me want to pick one up over a CTS, G35, or other equivalent car in its class.

  • avatar

    I agree with the conclusion that different teams worked at different horizontal levels of the car. It looks like they mated the greenhouse from the Jaguar XF with the body of a tarted up Taurus. It looks like a too fat and fugly little chick trying out for ballet school.

  • avatar

    16/23 mpg? Ouch. The Volvo S80 does the same with a V8 and on a very similar platform for around the same price as a top of the line MKS with slightly more prestige and a unique look. Never mind the Lexus ES350 which is cheaper, goes faster, and gets 19/27 mpg.

    Will they really go forward with the “eco boost”? That engine will likely get single digit mileage around town and have at best equivalent cost and performance of a V8.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    EcoBoost IS coming, they say, with a twin turbo V6. No idea how much HP (If we believe Chris Doane, 350 hp). Mileage will probably be approximately the same as now.

  • avatar

    I think it is a very handsom car. I look forward to driving one. I havent always agreed your TTAC’s reviews in the past so I will hold off on the verdict until I can experience it for myself. Still, as an alternative to the Acura TL, Lexus ES, I think this Lincoln has some legs. If its biggest flaw is low quality materials below the wood trim line in the interior, It should still do quite well. I dont remember the last time I have ever fondled the dash of either of my cars aside from the initial test drive. That is to say, maybe you are making a little too much out of it. Out of curiosity is the 16/23 the official EPA number for the AWD version?? That sucks. I am guessing that Ecoboost isnt going to bring much to the table in terms of increased fuel economy, but it would definitely make the car more interesting.

    On a side note, I think that your take on the MKS will be in the minority among the auto media outlets conducting tests. I agree that it may not be an out of the park Home run, but think that it will definitely find many fans.

  • avatar

    “… guarded by a sadistic six-speed autobox named Sucko the Clown”

    (snorts coffee up thru nose) – that was top-notch!

  • avatar

    Looks like an Infiniti on the outside…a new M45. The interior at least looks like a proper Lincoln, design-wise.

    The only thing going for it is that it is the only US-branded large luxury car that has seen a re-do in years. So domestic-only buyers who think the CTS is too small have another option.

    Great writing, Justin. You make one point here that underlines essentially everything wrong with Detroit. Luckily for Lincoln, the brand’s current core audience has no idea what I’m talking about. To this day Detroit still insults it’s customers with cars not true to a brand, or rebadged mark ups, etc. This Lincoln is not a disgusting rebadge job, it’s a little more than that…but it still is a job done cheap, and not sold cheap. In the age of the internet and the ever-informed consumer, the number of oblivious buyers is shrinking every day.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    It’s been a long time since Lincoln had a car that was (somewhat) unique and didn’t suck. This is a good replacement for the LS, 5 years too late. – SherbornSean

    I still see a lot of Lincoln LS’ on the road. People really like them though my mechanic says they have significant reliability issues.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Perhaps in this case it’s a good thing that the MKS failed the mom test.

  • avatar

    This car reminds me of the early attempts at Japanese luxury in the USA market back in the mid 1980s. This clearly looks like a car built by a company that is at best is “trying hard” but still does not know how to make serious or special cars.
    This MKS looks like it belongs amoung the ranks of such cars like the Kia Amanti or an early Hyundai 350gl. It does not speak well for Ford remaining premium brand.

    If Hyundai (the upstart that only started selling cars in the USA in 1986) can make a large v8 powered RWD luxury car and the best that Ford can come up with is a tarted-up 500/ Tauras in 2008 the game is OVER!

  • avatar

    I’ll wait for the refeshed MKZ—that should be the real TL, ES350 fighter

  • avatar

    This seemed to garner a fair amount of attention at the NY Auto Show this year. Overall, I think it is a good but generic (does every ‘luxury car’ have to have the SAME greenhouse?) sedan…

    Is this what a true LINCOLN should be? No. But let’s remember, the MKS was conceived during the chaotic period when Bill Ford stepped down, Jag/LR were bleeding the blue oval dry for development funds, and Lincoln was lost in the shuffle. So to me, the MKS screams: “StopGap Measure!”

    The solution to the Lincoln identity crisis is simple. Let’s hope in the post Jag/LR days, Ford has the focus, funds and fortitude to step up and give Lincoln a model with the swagger of an American Bentley at half-price (or even quarter price?)

  • avatar

    This is definitely a stopgap measure. But if gas stays at $4, then more and more RWD cars will go by the wayside and Lincoln will look like the smart one. Just look at Honda now. Everyone gave them a hard time for not joining in on the rwd and horsepower races, but look at their sales last month.

    Still would have preferred a 2nd gen LS on the RWD chassis, though.

    …and Ford does have a new RWD chassis coming for 2012.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    When fuel economy is a top concern, RWD looses out. The extra weight and rotating mass of a RWD platform means a fuel economy penalty. Isaac Newton will not be denied.

    That is why Cadillac went all FWD years ago, only to tack back the other way with the CTS and newest STS just in time for another fuel price spike.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    It’s funny really, Lincoln borrowed the platform and the AWD system from Volvo but everything went wrong when they decided to leave the sweet Yamaha V8 and Asin 6 speed transmission behind. Some blogs suppose this was a cost related issue. I’m wondering how this could be when the platform was already designed to handle the V8? How does Lincoln think they are going to compete with the V8 crowd with even a nice V6? Seems like a good landing but the wrong airport to me.

    Ford: Replace that 6F50 with the Asin TF-SC80 and the Yamaha V8 stat. Worry about EcoBoost later as an option. Oh, and pop that 3.7L into the Mustang in the mean time.

  • avatar

    I am looking forward to abusing one of these fine cars at my next visit to the Avis Counter @ JFK.

  • avatar

    “Appeals to the head, not the heart.”

    That’s how Lexus took over, so maybe Lincoln isn’t so far off.

    The tranny isn’t gonna be an issue for anyone who doesn’t take their cars on the coastal highway to test the handling. And is For not smart to tune the tranny for fuel economy? Anything less and they’d be getting lambasted for a lack of fuel efficiency in the brave new world of high gas prices.

    It’s no new CTS, that’s for sure. It doesn’t grab your attention and it doesn’t save the brand. But it doesn’t kill the brand and it certainly will keep Lincoln alive.

    What Ford does with Lincoln next is what’ll matter the most.

  • avatar

    What more does the V8 give you that the EcoBoost won’t? The V8 crowd’s market is slowly dwindling, and the 6-cyl versions of midsize luxury cars have always sold better than their 8-cyl brethren (E350, 530, GS330, S80 T6, etc…).

    I think that this is a fine car. If it was looked at as a vehicle alone, not a Lincoln but just a midsize mid-level luxury vehicle it would perform very well as a long-distance cruiser or commuter car. It has comfortable seats, good AC performance, good performance, AWD for inclement weather, several creature comforts and a good stereo. The controls look to be intuitive enough.

    The styling does flow, but it doesn’t shout “Lincoln” as much as it shouts “Ford design studio”. It is elegant enough, it blends in with the crowd, and doesn’t go overboard on details like Cadillac. Luxury cars, such as Mercedes or BMW, used to stand out for their design constraint and heritage.

    I’m sure it’s a very competent vehicle, and will serve owner’s well. I’ve driven many AWD Taurii (And 500s) and they are quite nice cars on the highway and in snowstorms. They do everything well without the flash or need to stand out. They feel, and seem, solid. That’s not a bad thing at all.

    In regards to the transmission, I’ve noticed the same issue with the 5-speed auto in my Mazda3, so, I keep it in manual mode and give my right foot a rest from the clutch in our Volvo 244.

  • avatar

    I love comfortable highway cruisers…that’s where I do the vast majority of my driving. And I am a tall person. So, the Lincoln scores well there.

    However, 16/23 is pretty poor, and the rear end is ugly.

    I would opt of a good used, massively depreciated Taurus.

  • avatar

    How big is the MKR supposed to be?

    That seems like it will be the flagship if it’s ever made.

  • avatar

    As big as the Flex.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    You’re looking at the MKR in the MKS. This is the flagship.

  • avatar

    TEXN3 :
    As big as the Flex.

    Then there’s your Town Car replacement.

    One would hope.

    If it’s built.

    You get the idea.

  • avatar

    The “Sucko the clown” reference was awesome! That transmission must be pretty awful.

    I liked the Lincoln LS and this car seems like a competent successor. It always bothered me that Ford made a good car, got a following that really liked the LS, but then dropped it.

    Too bad 16/23 is bottom feeder material nowadays, that’ll take it out of the running for a lot of people who “upgrade” to cars they can barely afford. Heck, isn’t Chrysler claiming 23mpg on their 2wd Dakota’s? The crappy shifting trans may have been a last-minute recalibration to try and improve the mileage, but it may not have been worth it if it is such a pill.

  • avatar

    @ TEXN3:

    “What more does the V8 give you that the EcoBoost won’t?”

    The Yamaha V8 used by Volvo has better fuel economy, smoother performance, better reliability, easier maintenance/serviceability, than the EcoBoost 3.7L.

    Believe me, I’m all for twin turbo’d 6’s. I would love to see that engine in a Mustang, but it is totally wrong for Lincoln. Lincold drivers don’t want performance. They want smooth quiet luxury.

    @ Justin Berkowitz :

    Direct injection can do great things, as can be seen in the 335i’s impressive fuel mileage, but it still loses 1 mpg city and 2 mpg hwy to its NA sister. If Ford can achieve that effiencey, it would put the ecoboost at 15/21. Even the 5.4L V8 Expedition gets 16/24 mpg.

  • avatar

    The Yamaha V8 is a great engine, no doubt. We haven’t seen any firm data on the EcoBoost so I don’t know if it’s fair to say what numbers it will return or how easy it is to service and maintain.

    The AWD really hurts the MPG numbers on this car, similiar to the Taurus with just the 3.5l 240hp V6.

    AWD Taurus: 17/24
    FWD Taurus: 18/28

    I guess I didn’t think the weight of the additional drivetrain pieces would hurt fuel economy that much. Since the system, on the highway at a cruising speed, is essentially in FWD. Unless it’s like the Escape system where there is always a small amount of power going to the rear wheels so that the system can react quickly to the need for traction.

    Where do you get the Expedition returning 16/24? It’s rated at 12/18 mpg. My dad’s 05 Explorer V8 doesn’t get much better than 22 on the highway (even through the flat parts of Wyo).

  • avatar

    I think the problem here is the price tag. While comfy highway cruisers are a good thing, in the $40k+ price range, most buyers will have higher expectations. A top spec Accord, Taurus, Azera or Avalon will do the same for a lot less.
    Most likely when the Genesis sedan becomes available this equation will not look any better.

  • avatar

    I think the turbocharged version will be very interesting. But this is just dull; an American Acura TL

  • avatar

    @ TEXN3:

    I pulled it from the Ford website. There was a ** next to that figure though.

    I’m basing my assumptions on the ecoboost on generic qualities of turbo engines such as more parts = more parts to fail/service, turbos will likely be in a difficult to access location and the extra exhaust piping will likely obscure other serviceable parts, proper care of a turbo car involves letting it run for a few minutes before shutting down, turbocharging puts more stress on the engine and also reduces fuel economy due to ramming more fuel and air into the cumbustion chamber, turbo cars have turbo lag which isn’t a big deal if you don’t mind revving the engine but when you’ve got a “Sucko the Clown” gearbox…

  • avatar

    Good review. Good thing the bottom half of the interior is the bad part because no one uses the climate controls, radio, cup holders etc…

  • avatar

    Carguy: If Lincoln makes the right moves on the re-freshed MKZ (re: updated interior + differentiated from Fusion body)….that is your answer in the $30-35 price range. Should they add a hybrid version—all the better.

  • avatar

    Gotcha… that’s a bit off from EPA website.

    Maybe the ** meant “while coasting”.

    The amount of boost can greatly determine longegivity, reliability, and fuel economy. It really depends on how Ford has tuned the engine. I’ve seen Volvos last quite a while with turbocharging…and return rather decent mileage.
    Lag is very much dependent on the turbo size. But with a decent sized V6, you’ll have plenty of power to get off the line…the turbos will aid in passing power, which is where most people really want the power. Unless they think every stop light is a drag race. I feel that a nice turbo set-up can give a rather flexible powerband and return pretty good fuel numbers. I feel that the AWD and ATX computers is what’s going to kill the performance on this car. It’ll drive and feel very similar to an S80 T6 AWD (which I’d rather have for the money).

    Now, when some people turn the boost way up on their car (like VW, DSM, Subie owners) then there becomes more issues such as heat extraction.

  • avatar

    John Horner : That is why Cadillac went all FWD years ago, only to tack back the other way with the CTS and newest STS just in time for another fuel price spike.

    But going FWD in the 1980s was terrible for the brand. Remember the Lincoln Town Car ad with the Valet unable to tell a FWD Caddy from its GM stablemates at a fancy party?

    FWD is a bad idea at this price point. The MKZ is another story, it might actually work if they TL-it a bit. And sell it as a Mercury.

  • avatar

    John Horner
    When fuel economy is a top concern, RWD looses out. The extra weight and rotating mass of a RWD platform means a fuel economy penalty. Isaac Newton will not be denied.

    Actually, the Hyundai Genesis…with the 375HP 4.6 V8 and RWD will be getting the same mileage as the FWD, V6 MKTaurus.

    It’s sad when Hyundai builds a better luxury car than Lincoln.

  • avatar

    The MKZ needs to move up in price to the $33-39k range. That owuld give marcury some room to differentiate itself from Ford. The price gap between an MKZ and an MKS is too large – $8-10k.

  • avatar

    The Genesis is 600 lbs lighter too…that surely affects the mileage a bit.

    Hyundai did a great job on the Genesis, basically a Korean Infiniti…which is not a bad thing IMO.

  • avatar

    For a Ford product, that interior looks phenomenal. It’s a shame the front grille looks like it belongs in a rap video.

  • avatar

    Is it not a little early to be using the Genesis as a benchmark. The only reviews I have seen were in preproduction models on test tracks. Their web site doesn’t even give out any useful information. Seems a little soon to be crowning it.

  • avatar

    i saw one sitting at light yesterday on the upper east side, and it’s not a bad looking car from the front, but the side view kills it for me. the proportions are all wrong. i’m not what is it – too short of a wheelbase? too much metal between the rear tire and the trunk or bumper? i reserve my judgments until i see cars in the flesh, and this one is a solid “meh” at best. at least they didn’t stick a focus or cts-style fake fender vent on it (if you don’t count the lincoln logo on the front fender).

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    The V8 vs EcoBoost thing is a bit academic until they ACTUALLY ship the V6 EcoBoost engine. For now the MKS is competing in the very small American luxury market and is shy a couple of pistons, there’s just no way around that. The sad but true key to this problem is the average American consumer who equates: more cylinders = better. Until the market changes, OR until all players are fighting the same battle (i.e. Caddy goes turbo) there will always be the customer that needs to be “educated” and there lies the problem, when you have to educate your customer you end up with many potential customers who avoid the lesson and buy what they precieve to be better.

  • avatar

    Does it have a front bench seat option with column shift? If not I will definitely have to get my order in for one of the last to be made Town Cars. Now when is production of those scheduled to end? Is it 2010 or 2011?

  • avatar

    umterp85 – the MKZ has great potential as a drivers car. Equipped with sporty underpinnings, it should never be softened to fit into the “highway cruiser” market. Firstly its too small to appeal to that demographic and secondly it should be Lincoln’s product aimed at younger buyers who prefer sporty handling over comfort.

    The MKS should have been their grand luxury offering but a revamped Taurus just doesn’t cut it in this segment and at this price point. I’d rather have a used LS.

  • avatar

    This car sounds like it would be perfect for my Lexus ES330-driving folks. They don’t care about FWD, RWD, AWD, DSC, ESC, ETC! and they certainly didn’t care about the horrific piece of ‘wood’ Lexus put in that car –stained as red as a Commie– so they won’t care if some of the material quality is sub-par.

    The ES is butt-ugly, too –typical blind ToMoCo designers at work– so it doesn’t matter if the Lincoln isn’t as distinctive as some of you would like.

    All they want is a nice, cushy ride, a 6-CD changer (Mom wouldn’t know about MP3) and nice, cushy leather seats. Dad thinks 65 MPH is too fast, so a V8 would be wasted on him. So what if the autobox goes all eco on them; they drive on the freeways a lot, so the MPG ought to be OK, ’cause I know the Lexus ain’t no Corolla in this department. Anticipated price is about what they paid for the ES.

    What’s more important is, if this car is related to the Taurus/Sable (and that car is known to be roomy), is how much bigger the rear seat is vs. the poorly packaged Lexus. Also important is if the dealer can deliver the same (better is, um, better) customer service they are used to receiving from the Lexus store (this is Lexus #3 for them).

    I think, if the desired customers can “rethink” American and the dealers can follow-through, Lincoln has a winner here.

  • avatar

    Things I don’t like about the MKS …

    – Big chrome vertical grille (too old school luxury, one wants a modern more performance oriented design)
    – Gauges too small — look like they belong in a subcompact
    – Rear taillights look “effeminate”, or girly like, or goofy (take your pick)
    – Steering wheel looks like an abomination from a 1970’s LTD (the stuff in the 70’s was garish, remember those orange shag rugs)

    Any bad styling gaffs (or just a poor design) these days can hurt a car. You need the whole package.

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    Ditto what everyone said about this being a Lexus ES competitor. I think it looks better than the Lexus, too…handsome, even. The MPG seems to be its major downfall…16/23 is despicable, especially with one of those ridiculous “UPSHIFT!!!!” trannies. The MKS might have been a major player if its name weren’t so confusing, and if they waited for the EcoBoost beast to make waves for the car in the media.

  • avatar

    As an every day Mark VIII driver I had high hopes for the MKS but it doesn’t excite me the way the Mark VIII did when it was released, or the way the LS did years later. I love my hot rod Lincoln but it’s beginning to get tired and Lincoln just doesn’t offer a worthy successor. It’s a shame, I don’t know what I’ll turn to as a replacement.

    Btw, my Mark gets a consistent 26 mpg on my everyday 30 mile highway commute (even with a V8).

  • avatar

    Good review. Exactly what I expected of the car. They may as well put a Marge Simpson pic in the window of the LM dealers proclaiming “Welcome back Blue-Hairs! We missed u since the Continental went away”
    The stupidly named S is going no where, IMHO. Though I personally think the exterior is quite nice (based only on pictures) the interior (chest or pelvis) shows nothing that interests me (again tho only pix). And 16/23 with gas almost $5.00 gal for prem now here in the formerly Golden State, is just a non starter. Yet I personally know folks who will put their money down and get an S for whatever reason.
    I am a daily driver of an LS getrag since 2001. Well actually my wife as been the DD for the last year or two. It’s been a splendid car. At 100K now, we spent our first maintenance money on it yesterday (besides tires and brakes) – $500 cause driver window regulator broke and I finally replaced the bushings on the thumping front sway bar. A very nice ride, even at only about 220hp. Gets 25-26 on hiway and we both love to row our own. We’ve no plans to replace it and certainly Lincoln has nothing I could replace it with. Now or in the pipe. If I was to shop now, CTS or Infiniti would probably get my money if I was shopping for a replacement. However, cost of gas is just too much to ignore anymore. I think for a commuter car now, we’d probably have to go hybrid. HATE the Prius becasse I despise the drivers. Too much smug. And the Camry sux too. …

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @Tony Tiger:

    Wow, cheers to you for owning a “rare” manual transmission LS.

    Just as a small point from your post, you CAN put regular 87 octane in the MKS and you only give up a couple of horses (<10).

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I’m sure the MKS is a decent, reliable car. It just does nothing for me. When the price tag is 40 large, that’s not good. Clearly, this a stop-gap measure car. Ford just didn’t have the money to go for the fences when the MKS was conceived. But I really can’t trash Ford on this… because it’s clear now that the company was MUCH closer to the edge than any of us imagined at the time. I’m hoping it gets better from here.

    On the other hand, I sat in an MKZ at the New York Auto Show this year and… kind of liked it. Granted, the grill looked a bit generic but I was surprised that it appealed to me much more than I thought it would. The instrument panel and center stack look a lot better in darker colors. Now, if it was only available as a two-door. Of course, all of this worries me… because I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone under the age of 65 driving a Zephyr or MKZ. At 51, I don’t need to rush things. And I like the Mercury Milan better in some ways.

    Now… what does get me interested are the early reports of a European-designed Mercury Capri revival.

  • avatar

    Things I don’t like about the MKS …
    – Gauges too small — look like they belong in a subcompact

    That’s because it is Ford’s run of the mill corporate gauge cluster…it just has different stickers for the numbers.

    The exact same cluster is in the Fusion, Flexible, Focus, Taurus, Taurus X, Edge, and Escape…just to name a few.

    Funny that Ford thinks it’s ok to have the same gauge cluster in a 14,000 compact car as well as a 50K near-luxury car.

  • avatar

    TL, Accord, Maxima, 300C, Avalon, Azera, CTS, and who knows what else will be competing with the MKS. Maybe all of those come first in my book, still probably some market out there for this car. In the end its about how big that market is. This car probably had a small budget, so low risk. So Lincoln will prabably not grow. Lincoln seems more and more like a Ford with nicer interior and ride. Not a bad think, Still I agree its not for keeping up with the competition on capital.

  • avatar

    Please don’t dis the ’70s LTD interior.

    I knew the ’77 LTD Landau, and this is no ’77 LTD Landau! The old car had more-convincing plastichrome and lots of not-half-bad plastiwood.
    It was also color-coordinated to the exterior, not funeral-limo black on top, and that awful color down below that always reminds me of vomited baby formula on a “barf rag”.

    The heater/AC controls on the old one could be readily distinguished from the radio controls,too.

    And steering wheel buttons for more than the horn and cruise will only confuse the old ducks.

    And why offer AWD in a car that Granny and Gramps won’t take out of the garage if there’s more than 0.1″ of snow on the ground, anyway?

    I’m totally unconvinced that AWD is worth the premium over FWD, having owned both and seen that the FWD Voyager could climb the same snowy hills as the AWD Caravan and do it without the year-round 3-5 mpg penalty.

    AWD does completely eliminate torque steer on slick surfaces, but so does a lighter touch on the accelerator.

  • avatar

    I would like to point out that although entertaining, many of the comments particulary about domestic products like the MKS exhibit a lot of bias against anything designed or produced here in the US. There is almost glee at the current state of the domestic auto industry. I suspect that most of these comments are from people who are in their 20’s and 30’s who cannot appreciate how far the domestic products for the most part have come in quality, technology and safety in the last 50 years. People in their 50’s and up have different priorities for an automobile than someone who is much younger. Their needs and wants in a car are at least as valid as the rest. Different products need to be evaluated as to their suitablity to their targeted market, not through the narrow scope of someone who only cares about 0-60, or a tranmission that stays in gears forever for performance, or that a car has to have 4wheel disc brakes or it is inferior. To much of the buying public, these things are irrelevant. In my opinion, Car and Driver for example has become irrelevant because it views all cars through a very narrow range of acceptablity. Lastly, my view of the MKS is that it appears to be a very competent, attractive car when viewed in the context of the market it it going after and I hope it does well.

  • avatar

    I thought Bill Ford would get Ford back on track , but he was only able to talk the talk , not walk the walk.Neither Lincoln or Mercury offer anything interesting. Just re-packaged same-old,same old. They should have kept improving the town car as they have(had) a lock on that market, amd totally re-vamped the rest of the line up.

  • avatar

    @plee: I think you’d find that the B&B here at TTAC are a notch above other sites like autoblog or LLN. But, I do agree with much of your assessment…however, I am in my upper 20’s and do appreciate what Ford has done (not so much GM or ChryCo).

  • avatar

    I’ve always liked the MkVIII. I think it was somewhat inovative for the time. Independent RWD in a sea of wrong-wheel-drive. Self lowering suspension at highway speeds. And the first HID headlights (that I can remember)on a domestic car.

    Also, call me a nit-picker, but shouldn’t the MKS be the MKZ and vise versa. If Lincoln “insists” on using a mish-mash of numbers (that noboby can remember) shouldn’t the “flagship” car have the last letter available. That would be a Z, not an S. Instead, the entry level car gets the Z.

    Just seems ass backwords.


  • avatar

    The Z was used because the car was named the Zephyr for 1 model year. I guess they wanted to have some sort of resemblance in the naming.

  • avatar

    You would think that being an ‘enthusiast’ review site, that not only would reviewer’s play around with plastic in the interiors of domestic cars, they would climb underneath psudo-luxury japanese cars and comment on how little steel is underneath a car like an ES. Ford uses too much steel to a fault, and has to skimp on plastic in the end. If a Camry still passes a static crash test if they can use a 6mm instead of a 10mm bolt somewhere that’s half the length, you better believe they do it. There is no effort to go with one ounce of steel more then what is needed to satisfy the ‘crash testing’ American consumers judge a car’s safety by.

    I guess Lincoln apparently built a highway cruiser(which is where ALL of these cars in the class end up regardless of the commercials, I’ve never gotten into a race with an ES before and rarely see a RL do 0-60 faster then 45 sec if ever) that’s TOO quiet and TOO smooth, go figure. No comments on rear seat room or ride on a sedan review either? Brakes and steering feel? 5 paragraphs focused on what two sentences could say. Toyota has also had about 20 reprogram TSB’s for their newest 6-speed auto and still gets complaints, so maybe a flash will fix the trans a bit from a first-off-the-line MKS. We will see what happens when the 380hp TT appears in the fall I guess…

    Lots of inaccurate ‘facts’ in the (user)comments section as well, roughly 80% of them. And I’m not even really a fan of the car in the first place(or any in its class).

  • avatar

    Sure, it’s a disappointment. Considering Lincoln’s recent history how could it not be? As a replacement for the FWD 1995-2002 Lincoln Continental built on the previous generation Ford Taurus chassis the MKS doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t look that great either. The old FWD Continental had a high-output 32-valve version of Ford’s 4.6 liter V-8 and so it seemed like something special at the time. The Continental was discontinued after 2002 due to low sales. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened to the MKS.

  • avatar

    P71_CrownVic: The exact same cluster is in the Fusion, Flexible, Focus, Taurus, Taurus X, Edge, and Escape…just to name a few.

    Funny that Ford thinks it’s ok to have the same gauge cluster in a 14,000 compact car as well as a 50K near-luxury car.

    This could be why there is already a minor refresh underway for the 2010 model year(!). Mulally, apparently, did not think this was OK.

  • avatar

    I thought this Lincoln was based on the Mazda 6 platform as is the Fusion not the Volvo S80 platform

    My neighbor just got the Taurus X (freestle) which is based on the XC 90/S80. I had a chance to drive it last week and found it cumbersome, front heavy with vague steering.

    Also drove an Edge last weekend which is based on the Mazda 6. I found the handle crisp and competitive with anything in its class.

    Seems the Mazda based Ford’s are nice vehicles and the Volvo’s seem from yesteryear

  • avatar

    The rear looks like a Daevrolet Nubira…

    And I agree with comments above that there’s a lot of uglyfied Jaguar XF in there as well.

    And the front end looks bad too.

  • avatar

    plee: I suspect that most of these comments are from people who are in their 20’s and 30’s who cannot appreciate how far the domestic products for the most part have come in quality, technology and safety in the last 50 years.

    They’ve definitely come a long way but it’s a case of too little, too late. These days, Toyota can afford to produce vehicles that are merely adequate. GM, Ford and Chrysler can not. The MKS needs to be spectacular in order to revitalize the brand. Being as good as, or slightly better than an ES350 simply doesn’t cut it when you’re in Ford’s shoes.

  • avatar

    I just can’t get over the front end. it’s just so bleeping UGLY.
    Actually it’s ugly in 3 dimensions. I cry for Lincoln.

  • avatar

    I like this car. It’s not as geriatric as the Town Car. Did anyone catch Kelly’s take on it? I thought it was too funny.

  • avatar

    Don’t know if you are still seeing replies on this review…
    But I test drove it today.
    I must say, I am not getting what you say about this car, other than the comfort is very, very good.
    Well, maybe your take on the trans is very real. I thought it shifted badly and this bothered me a lot.
    I also think the tire noise was a bit high for the cost.

    But hell, for road trips, this car was/is all good.
    The rear seat was a true living room, couch and all.
    I thought it handled very well, much like the Genesis. Cornered really well and the stearing was nice and tight.

    Bothered by the 24 hwy.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    From what you describe it sounds like we are actually in agreement a lot. Only different view is the handling. I didn’t think it was especially tight, but it was fine, good enough for what it is. I agree with you – it’s a very comfortable car. That’s the MKS’s best asset. As a result handling, sportiness etc were not crucial.

    Were you able to check out the THX sound system? My goodness it’s great.

  • avatar

    I did!
    But just like the M Lev in the Lexus, I am really not a music listener.
    I wish I had this quality when I was a kid!
    My wife fell for this car.
    I saw her eyes as soon as she sat in the rear seat!!!
    Uh, OH!
    Now we need to make the decision and trade offs as no car is everything.

    Our list of requirements at price around 35 to 43K:

    1) Size.
    2) MPG.
    3) Reliability.
    4) Performance (handling…not speed)
    5) FWD (or Great mpg awd, if possible)
    6) Luxury.
    7) Silence.


    Lexus. 42K
    2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
    Outstanding in silence (best of three) and luxury and reliability and mpg.

    MKS 43K
    1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
    Outstanding in room and both luxury and performance best( of these 3).

    Avalon 38K
    1, 2, 3, 5, 7.
    Outstanding in size, relibility and MPG best of these 3.

    Next up, 2009 Acura TL next week when it arrives in showrooms.

    Did we do well so far with our evaluations?
    Please email at [email protected]
    I am hoping you can add your personal feelings to these.
    Thanks so very much, indeed.

  • avatar

    I leased a Lincoln MKS FWD with the Premium and Technical Packages and the optional Adaptive Cruise Control retailing for $45,000.What can I say about this car, now that I have 8,000 miles on it, besides the fact that it has all the luxury you’d want yet provides the most competent and exceptional quiet ride I have had in other luxury sedans I have leased..

    Don’t reject the Lincoln MKS because of what you read from people’s comments since in most cases they have never even sat in one much less driven it. As for the test drive articles in many magazines the main complaint appears to be the fact that the MKS falls short on horsepower and lacks the firmness at high speeds on closed circuit winding roads. Although it may fall a bit short in horsepower against some of its European and Japanese luxury competitors it has, in most cases, more torque. This fact comes into play when you want to pass on rural roads or enter a freeway. To me this is more significant then pickup from a stop light and although it might lean more at 70mph on winding rural roads you can’t complain about its ride at sensible speeds on all types of roads.

    Check out the bang you get for your buck. Compare this fully loaded luxury sedan to the other manufactures comparable models that offer similar space, most cases less features and then compare the price of ownership considering they all run on premium fuel and have higher insurance cost. (Examples of retail prices: MB E350 – $66,000+, BMW 535i – $67,000+, Caddy STS V6 – $56,000+, Infinity M35 – $56,000+ and the Lexus LS460 – $70,000+). Next drive them before you make up your mind. You might be surprised at the one you decide to purchase or lease.

  • avatar

    More info.
    Why did I lease the Lincoln MKS after checking out and driving other alternatives? Check out the bang you get for your buck.
    -the 12 position front seats adjustments, I love the high seating position which is similar
    to a SUV or mini van and give you a commanding view of the road. So much more
    comfortable on long trips then having to sit low with your legs stretched out.
    -the 8” high resolution navigation system screen (that can be adjusted on the run),
    -the Microsoft SYNC (voice recognition system) that allows you to perform many
    operations such as operating the navigation, audio, phone, media, climate, display and
    voice settings by speaking certain commands rather then being distracted by having to
    move the control knobs, buttons or touch the screen.
    -the Bluetooth feature that connects to two different cell phones and includes connection
    to both phones’ contact lists. So all you have to do is say the contact name
    using the SYNC system and it will call the number,
    -the superb THX audio system,
    -the high resolution wide angle rearview camera system,
    -the forward and reverse parking sensing system,
    -the auto high beams,
    -the adaptive headlamps that move the beams in the same direction as the steering wheel,
    -the rain sensing wiper system,
    -the dual panel moon roofs,
    -the front heating and cooling front seats,
    -the headed rear seats
    -and the wrap around lower door sills that keep your pant legs clean when you exit or
    enter your car in muddy or snowy weather,
    -the softest leather seats you can find and much-much more.
    -a surprise bonus is getting 27mpg on REGULAR gas when driving at 74mph on the
    freeway and using the Adaptive Cruise Control. The Adaptive Cruise Control is an
    option a person might not add to their purchase but something they would find is one of
    the best features in the MKS. For those not familiar with this option it is much like
    normal cruise control, only this radar based system is designed to automatically adjust
    your speed to maintain a proper distance between you and the vehicle in front of you in
    the same lane.

  • avatar

    This car suffers the same fate as many recently introduced sedans. Cover up the badge and I would have no clue what the hell I was looking at. The lame meaningless letter name of MKS doesn’t help one iota. The interior with it’s tan or black only color scemes mimics the blandness brought to us from yours truly (Toyota)because blues and maroons are totally taboo from todays clueless generation. The powertrain gets a B, the exterior a D- and the interior a C. Incidentally my best friend rented a FWD model for a day and it’s three best attributes were SYNC, interior room and the 3.7 liter V6. The tranny was very unsure of it’self, the trunk has a mailbox slit for an opening along with the tiny rear window and who in there right mind would want 19″ or 20″ rims in Winter driving. We have truly come to a time when replacement tires for cars like this are going to set you back nearly a grand! And in a time when gas mileage is near the top of peoples list here comes Lincoln with a sedan that can only manage 24 on the open road(23 with AWD). We managed a mediocre 19.3 in various driving conditions. We didn’t dislike the car overall and in fairness it was a pretty comfortable ride and quick. But with the big switch to RWD, we fail to see how this rather bland nondescript sedan is going to fare in todays Import biased society.

  • avatar


    Can you get adaptive cruise/headlamps/highbeams and rain sensing wipers in the competition? Yes.

    Can you get shiny plastichrome on the HVAC vents that reflects into your eyes? The navigation screen that washes out in sunlight? The Ford Focus gauge cluster? The cheesy donkey-kong warning chimes? No storage, just acres of hard plastic in the centerstack? The infinitesimal trunk opening?


    Not trying to belittle the purchase you made with your hard-earned bucks. I’m glad you like it. I just personally don’t see it.

  • avatar

    I bought a car several months ago and test drove several cars. The Lincoln was not even considered and I sold mine for the new car. It is just plain ugly in person. I got a ride in a new one at lunch today and was very pleased with the interior. Plenty of room in the back, heated seats, ski pass through, nice stereo sound, high mounted GPS, nice screen graphics, lots of amenities. From the inside, I would have to give it an 8.5 out of ten. The downside, as I stated, it is just plain ugly on the outside. Looks like a bloated cow after three weeks in a hurricane force storm. It is also short on horsepower compared to what else is available. Give me the 98 Continental exterior with the MKS interior, and you would have a much more handsome package. Throw in a 350+hp engine option and we are talking competitive.

  • avatar

    The Lincoln v6 is smooother than the Cadillac v6? Really? I’m having a hard time believing that, even assuming we’re talking about the older v6 in the 2005-2007 models.

    But anyway, still a nice car but it needs to be RWD. I think this car is overall a nice offering for less performance oriented drivers who just want a nice car with plenty of options. It’s priced similar to the Hyundai Genesis, but you won’t have to be getting a new transmission with every oil change on the Lincoln.

    As much as I dislike how FWD handles, if I could just change one thing about this car, it would actually be the exterior look of the car. While it’s not the ugliest car on the road, the MKS looks like a Taurus with a fancy grill on the exterior (and more options and a better interior, but to the average car passing by they wouldn’t even know thhat). Itwould be a much more appealing car if it had a unique look to it. When you see a Cadillac passing by you, you don’t need to look at the logo on the front to tell it’s a Cadillac and not a Buick or Chevrolet. Likewise, when you see an Audi, you would have to be on a lot of crack to mistake it for a Volkswagen, and you’d have to be downright retarded to mistake a Mercedes for a Smart Car. But if someone sees a MKS from the side and mistakes it for a Taurus, that’s completely understandable.

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