What's New for 2009
Introduced for 2009, the MKS is Lincoln's newest luxury sedan. This full-size four-door incorporates many new technologies, such as the Sync multimedia integration system, radar-based cruise control, Sirius Travel Link and a THX entertainment system.
Lincoln hasn't always kept up with the competition in the luxury sedan segment. As rivals evolved with more avant-garde styling, better handing and the latest technology, Lincoln lagged behind, struggling to break free of its antiquated image. Earlier in this decade, the brand introduced its midsize LS sedan to much fanfare, but sales numbers fell short of expectations. More recently, Lincoln rolled out the entry-level MKZ sedan, but in our eyes, this model doesn't do enough to distinguish itself from its mundane Ford Fusion sibling. Now, Ford's premium division is trying again with the 2009 Lincoln MKS.
The MKS is the company's new full-size flagship. It's based on Ford's D3 platform, the same one used on the previous-generation Volvo S80 and the current-generation Ford Taurus. Given this pedigree, you're pretty much guaranteed a roomy interior and good safety scores, but we question whether it's an appropriate choice for what Lincoln identifies as its "luxury flagship." The base MKS is a front-wheel-drive sedan, but an all-wheel-drive option is available. For now, the MKS comes with just one engine: a 273-horsepower 3.7-liter V6. Next year, Lincoln promises a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that should produce about 340 hp.
The 2009 Lincoln MKS has some things going for it, including a bevy of standard features, an attractively laid out interior and a remarkably comfortable backseat. If these traits appeal to you, Lincon's newest sedan is worth a look. However, overall performance frankly isn't up to snuff, and the interior loses some of its luster upon closer inspection, evincing too many low-quality plastics. There are plenty of other choices to consider at this elevated price point, including the Acura TL, Lexus ES 350 and Volvo S80. The MKS also sits price-wise near the new rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis, and those looking for a similar front-wheel-drive package at a lower price may find the Hyundai Azera or Toyota Avalon more to their liking. In other words, the 2009 MKS -- with a price tag of more than $45,000 when well equipped -- is up against some stiff competition.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Lincoln MKS comes in two trim levels: front-wheel drive and AWD. Standard features on both include 18-inch wheels; heated power sideview mirrors with memory and auto-dimming on the driver side; xenon HID headlamps; cruise control; a new capless fuel-filling system (used previously on the Ford GT and now appearing on new models, including the Ford Flex); and a sleek, inconspicuous touchpad entry system. Inside, the MKS comes standard with Ford's voice-activated Sync system, leather upholstery, a tilt/telescoping power steering wheel with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated 12-way power front seats, heated rear seats, a rear center armrest with pass-through slot and an eight-speaker stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
Optional features include 19- or 20-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, rain-sensing wipers and a dual-pane sunroof. In the cabin, options include wood or aluminum trim, a touchscreen navigation system with Sirius Travel Link, a back-up camera, a power rear window sunshade, adaptive cruise control (which uses radar to adjust speed based on traffic in front of the car) and an upgraded 14-speaker 600-watt THX-certified stereo system with two subwoofers. Many of these features can be bundled together in Lincoln's Navigation, Technology or Ultimate Packages.
Powertrains and Performance
Both front-wheel-drive and AWD trim levels share the same powertrain, a 3.7-liter V6 matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2009 MKS is somewhat unusual compared to other luxury sedans in that it can run on either premium fuel or lower-octane grades. With non-premium fuel, the MKS generates an estimated 273 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. Filling up with a higher octane can boost the power by a couple of horses.
We managed a middling 7.5-second sprint from zero to 60 mph in our AWD test car; expect the lighter front-wheel-drive model to shave a couple tenths off that time. EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2009 Lincoln MKS are 17/24 mpg city/highway for the front-wheel-drive model and 16/23 for AWD.
The 2009 Lincoln MKS comes standard with stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and antilock brakes with brake assist.
Interior Design and Special Features
Interior design is on par with other cars in this segment, featuring standard leather upholstery and an attractive dash layout. Materials quality is a mixed bag, however, with too much chintzy plastic and Ford-grade switchgear. Lincoln's ventilated seats are a nice touch, as are the MKS's standard rear heated seats. Moreover, the 2009 MKS offers plenty of interior and cargo space -- the trunk will hold 18.4 cubic feet. Rear passenger room and comfort are particularly impressive.
Behind the wheel, the 2009 Lincoln MKS disappoints compared with its talented rivals. Power from the 3.7-liter V6 is merely adequate, and this engine doesn't sound sufficiently refined for luxury-sedan duty. With the optional 20-inch wheels, the ride is not as smooth as we'd expect from a large luxury sedan, and even the midlevel 19s produce a firmer ride than expected, which may not go over well with the average MKS shopper. Yet handling is borderline sloppy, with pronounced body roll, and steering feel is in short supply. The MKS's elevated driving position and formidable curb weight make it feel more like a crossover SUV than a flagship sedan.