2011 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost Review

When does a Ford Taurus SHO ring up an eye-popping $60,000 price tag? When it’s dressed up in Lincoln MKS drag. With a grille toothy enough to be a Kennedy, the MKS is sufficiently differentiated from the Ford that most people will be none the wiser. The 2011 Lincoln MKS proved to be a dandy way to sleep off the Black Friday shopping crush, too. With an interior done in gorgeous brown leather, metal and soft surfaces everywhere, the MKS is a rolling man cave.

2011 Lincoln MKS interiorWide, not-terribly-bolstered seats fit the post-Thanksgiving avoirdupois comfortably. After discharging shop-happy passengers at the local Temple of Retail, the fantastic-sounding THX-certified audio system, heated seats and superior isolation from the outside world provided a roasty-toasty atmosphere to take a nap rather than worry about what ELSE was destined for the enormous 18 cubic foot trunk. That trunk, by the way, is deceiving. The stub of a trunklid is so thanks to the backlight’s angle, and the trunk opening can be troublesome for objects with any kind of height. It’s great for carrying a bunch of 24 packs of beer, for instance, but the Town Car is the better choice if you’re hauling kegs.

The MKS recalls Lincoln’s past in many good ways. It’s an ultra-premium Ford that offers style and comfort while packing enough engine room punch to avoid embarassing itself. The Town Car, on the other hand, is a holdover from the old days that is glaringly outmoded to all but livery fleets. The MKS modernizes the large luxury car.

2011 Lincoln MKS

2011 Lincoln MKS

Did I say large? I meant large. Make that LARGE. This car is enormous. The MKS towers over its parking lot classmates, and the height makes getting in easy. Front headroom, even with a two-position roof that’s nearly entirely glass, is abundant. The angle of the back window chops a little headroom for the backseat passengers, and a lot of visibility. The MKS would benefit from more glass all around. The beltline is high, and the feeling can be a little claustrophobic.

The EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6 delivers 355 hp from its 3.5 liters, a nice, tidy 100 hp per liter. Anyone who calls this a “Hot Rod Lincoln” deserves a punch in the mouth with brass knuckles. The power is evident after you plant your foot, but it takes a bit of winding up. All-wheel drive smothers any threat of wheelspin or torque steer, and the hefty weight of the MKS smothers the road itself.

2011 Lincoln MKS Ecoboost

EcoBoost

That weight plays a role when the road turns twisty, and you feel every one of the 4,000-plus pounds. That said, the MKS is more tenacious than you’d think, though it feels quite wrong to try driving this big Lincoln like it’s a Mustang. This is a car for comfort, and while there’s a certain level of confidence that comes from plenty of power underfoot, it’s not really necessary. You’re better off going a little slower, turning the excellent audio system up, and giving that leather-wrapped dashboard a few extra fondles.

The MKS moves Lincoln’s big sedan offering into the age of modernity. It’s got a six-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles and a V6 engine that bests the old 4.6 liter V8 even without the hefty turbocharged wallop. Hefty describes the curb weight’s effect on the fuel economy, which stinks. For the space and power, the mileage isn’t bad, but you won’t want to look at the average fuel economy display much. At least there’s redeeming driver engagement here.

2011 Lincoln MKS

Ford Sync

Ford’s integrating all sorts of electronics into its cars, and the MKS carries navigation, Sync, voice commands, and too many like-sized buttons on its clean dashboard. With all the space the designers left on the center stack, they could have made it a bit easier to use without having to look. The electronics will either please or aggravate, but they’re some of the most well-done in the business, garnering frothy praise from guys who love having bright-ass LCD screens in the cabin and enjoy using touchscreen buttons with no tactile feedback. The gauges are beautifully styled with chrome surrounds and you can wind that lighted speedometer needle far to the right without the car wallowing around or feeling nervous. While the Taurus SHO tries gunning for the performance sedan glitterati, the MKS just says “hey, I go fast, I’m comfortable” without trying to act like it should be cross-shopped with an M5. These cars may handle well for their size, but they don’t handle that well.

The MKS starts at a pretty reasonable $41,000, but the $60 K my test-nap vessel was going for could start your eyes watering like an onion-chopping sous chef. In reality, the MKS is like a Vidalia – savory, relatively sweet, and big.

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