Full 2012 Lincoln MKS Review
What's New for 2012
For 2012 the Lincoln MKS sees no changes apart from the availability of a blind-spot detection system (with cross-traffic alert as well).
With its impressive grille and handsomely sculpted body, the 2012 Lincoln MKS certainly looks the part of an upscale luxury sedan. But as with many things in life, you have to spend some time to find a car's true character, and then what you'll discover here is essentially a reskinned Ford Taurus. The Taurus is a fine car, but there's just not enough of a difference between the two for us, even though the MKS's large price premium covers a commensurate level of standard equipment. Furthermore, the Lincoln MKS finds itself in a tough segment where there are a number of more refined choices.
Although the powerful twin-turbo "EcoBoost" V6 that is available in the MKS provides plenty of performance, one could simply choose the similarly powered and considerably less expensive Taurus SHO if a roomy sedan with pin-you-to-the-seat acceleration is desired. Also the MKS lacks either the spark of excitement or the whisper of refinement in the way it goes down the road that could help it measure up to its very tough competition in this class. Comfort, quietness and power are the simple pleasures offered here.
On the positive side, the 2012 Lincoln MKS has a long, long list of standard features, a genuinely spacious interior and a massive trunk. Indeed, if you didn't know the Taurus existed and ignored the premium-sedan competition, the MKS would be a pretty compelling car. But in this demanding segment, we suggest shoppers also consider the Acura TL, Buick LaCrosse and Hyundai Genesis. And if you're considering the EcoBoost model, a similar amount of money could get you into more refined sedans like the Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Lincoln MKS comes in three trim levels: FWD, AWD and EcoBoost. The FWD and AWD models come standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors, foglights, rain-sensing wipers, heated power-operated outside mirrors with memory, an integrated blind-spot mirror and auto-dimming on the driver side, automatic adaptive xenon headlamps, automatic high beams, keyless entry/ignition and a slick version of Ford's venerable touchpad entry system that's embedded in the base of the B-pillar.
Interior standard features include a power rear sunshade, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar support), heated rear seats, driver memory settings, the Sync voice-activation system (includes turn-turn directions), a THX-certified sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The EcoBoost is similarly equipped but has a more powerful twin-turbocharged engine and 19-inch wheels.
The Navigation package adds a blind-spot detection system (with cross-traffic alert), a back-up camera, a touchscreen hard-drive-based navigation system with Sirius Travel Link, and an upgraded 14-speaker THX-certified surround-sound system with a single DVD/CD player, HD radio and 10GB of digital music storage.
The Ultimate package adds all Navigation items plus upgraded leather upholstery and a dual-pane sunroof (stand-alone on non-EcoBoost models). An EcoBoost Appearance package adds sporty exterior styling cues like unique 20-inch chrome wheels, exclusive seats, illuminated sill plates and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Other options include 19- and 20-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control and, on the EcoBoost, Ford's automatic parking system.
Powertrains and Performance
Both FWD (front-wheel-drive) and AWD (all-wheel-drive) trim levels share the same powertrain, a 3.7-liter V6 matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift control and paddle shifters. This engine generates 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque with regular unleaded gas; the use of premium fuel helps boosts power to 275 hp and 276 lb-ft. We managed a 7.5-second sprint from zero to 60 mph in an AWD test car with this engine, and you can expect the lighter front-wheel-drive model to shave a couple tenths off that time. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city/24 highway mpg and 19 mpg combined with FWD and 16/23/19 with AWD.
The all-wheel-drive EcoBoost model is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that makes 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. The EcoBoost goes from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds while returning fuel economy of 17/25/20. Premium fuel is recommended for this engine.
The 2012 Lincoln MKS comes standard with stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and antilock brakes with brake assist. Adaptive cruise control is available as an option, and it's bundled with a collision warning system with brake support.
In Edmunds brake testing, an MKS EcoBoost came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet -- a bit long for a luxury sedan. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the MKS its highest rating of "Good" for its frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2012 MKS features a pleasant interior design with standard leather upholstery and an attractive dash layout. Unfortunately the cabin styling is hindered by some lesser-quality materials and Ford-sourced switchgear. The end result is that the MKS's cabin is not appreciably nicer than that of the much cheaper Taurus.
On the plus side, ventilated seats are a welcomed addition, as are the MKS's standard rear heated seats. The 2012 MKS offers plenty of interior and cargo space -- the trunk will hold 18.4 cubic feet. Rear passenger room and comfort are particularly impressive.
All of the graceful curves, luxury features and Lincoln badging work well to mask the MKS's origins, but behind the wheel, there's no escaping its Ford Taurus underpinnings. A base V6-powered MKS would be outclassed in performance by a Ford Fusion SEL V6, while its coarse engine noises further diminish its appeal, especially when compared to other cars in this price range.
The EcoBoost engine is a much more satisfying engine choice, but regardless of which power plant is selected, handling is a bit of a disappointment. On curvy roads, the suspension feels dull and overly soft. Normally, this softness would foster a plush ride quality, but oddly enough, the MKS still feels rather firm. In the end, the 2012 Lincoln MKS drives like a big sedan without the luxurious ride quality you'd expect.