2013 Lincoln MKS Road Test Review

Simon Hill - CAP staff
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Four years after it hit the market as a 2009 model, Lincoln's MKS still isn't an especially common sight on Canadian roads, but with an eye to improving its popularity Lincoln has refreshed the 2013 MKS inside and out, giving it more power, better brakes, a revised suspension, new front and rear fascias, and an improved interior with more available features than ever before.

It's technically what you'd call a mild update rather than a thorough reworking, but the changes do add up to surprisingly good effect, giving the MKS much more ammunition in its battle against a wide variety of competitors such as the new Cadillac XTS, Hyundai Genesis, BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and even the Toyota Avalon and the Ford Taurus, the latter of which shares the same D3 platform as the MKS.

The styling changes for 2013 give the MKS a slightly more refined look, while also playing up Lincoln's distinctive corporate grille, which gets much finer slatting for 2013 and a greater emphasis on its upswept "eagle's wings" shape. At the back the trunk lid has been redesigned for a cleaner look, with the license plate moved down from the decklid to the rear bumper, and access to the positively enormous trunk has also been improved.

The mechanical tweaks mean that the base 3.7-litre V6 engine now produces 305 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, up significantly from 273 horsepower and 270 lb-ft in the 2012 model. As before, you can also opt for a more powerful 3.5-litre turbocharged Ecoboost engine, which is what my test car had. This engine produces 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, which is a 10-horsepower boost over the 2012 model, and on the road it is stout feeling in a way normally associated with V8 engines. Happily the increase in output doesn't come at the expense of fuel economy, with the new MKS turning in slightly better numbers than the previous year's model at 11.6 / 7.5 L/100km (city/hwy) with the 3.7-litre V6, and 12.2 / 7.8 with the Ecoboost V6.

Whichever engine you choose, the MKS gets a 6-speed Selectshift automatic transmission, and for Canadian customers all-wheel drive is now standard (previously the base engine could be had with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, as is still the case in the U.S.).

The suspension has benefited from new adaptive, continuously-controlled dampers, which help improve both ride and handling, and the brakes get big new vented discs up front, larger discs in the back, and bigger brake pads all around. On the road the suspension still seems tuned towards the soft side of the spectrum, at least in normal mode, though I found it perfectly competent. Pop the gear lever into sport mode and that all changes as the computers firm up the suspension, quicken the steering and raise the transmission shift points for a more engaged, sporty driving experience. There's also a comfort mode available through the Drive Control menu, though I found it takes a while to master all of the menu systems in the big Lincoln - indeed, after a week I felt like I was just scratching the surface of what's available through the various interfaces.

Inside, the Lincoln MKS is every bit as luxurious as one might hope, and my test car's mocha-and-black interior colour scheme gave it a warm, clubby ambience. Lincoln uses Bridge of Weir leather for the upholstery in the MKS, which has a soft natural beauty thanks to its organic tanning process. It's the same material found in many luxury aircraft and private yachts, and is also one of the most environmentally friendly leathers available on the market.

The front seats are endlessly adjustable and very comfortable, and the outside rear seats are likewise accommodating, although the middle rear seat falls short, getting poor reviews from my passengers for backrest comfort (the backrest incorporates a fold-down armrest for when the middle seating position isn't in use). It's perhaps a minor quibble, as most MKS owners won't likely have three occupants in the back very often, but in a car this big I'd expect true comfort for five.

Up front, Lincoln has redesigned the dash for 2013, with sweeping lines replacing straight ones, and a new steering wheel. Visually it's a big improvement, aided by the fact that Lincoln has upgraded some of the materials and tightened up the fit and finish, too. To help clean up the centre stack, the traditional knobs for audio volume and climate control fan speed have been replaced by finger-swipe pads that echo Lincoln's grille shape, but these controls, while slick in theory, didn't seem to work that well in practice, and no matter how anybody swiped at them, the controls didn't seem to produce the desired adjustment. I just used the steering wheel and MyLincoln touch screen controls instead.

Once you have everything set to your specifications, however, the interior of the Lincoln MKS is a fabulous place to spend time: It's serenely quiet, very comfortable for four, and the optional $2,200 panoramic sunroof means that all seats get a sense of airiness when desired. My test car was also outfitted with the $4,000 Premium package, which includes a THX-certified 16-speaker audio system that is quite simply phenomenal sounding (the standard system is a very good 10-speaker AM/FM/Satellite/CD/MP3 system). Put it all together and there are few cars that can touch the Lincoln MKS when it comes to long-haul road-trip comfort.

With suggested prices starting at $45,784 (including destination fees) for the 3.7-litre model and $49,856 for the Ecoboost model, the MKS makes an interesting proposition. It's a full-size luxury car that's price-competitive with mid-size import rivals such as the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series, and much less expensive than their full-size siblings. At the same time, it's battling less-expensive full-size competitors from the middle range of the market such as the Ford Taurus, which can itself be ordered with a surprising range of luxury equipment. What the Lincoln does offer is a certain distinctive prestige and a lot of luxury for the price. With its improved looks and performance for 2013, that should help it win its share of luxury car buyers.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Luxury Sedan, Lincoln, 2013, MKS, $40,000 - $49,999, $50,000 - $74,999, MyLincoln Touch,

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