First Drive: 2009 Lincoln MKS luxury sedan

Lincoln promised us a memorable time for our drive experience of the all-new 2009 MKS luxury sedan – and they weren’t lying.

The recipe for the day included taking over a dealership, visiting a winery, getting a sneak-peek at a future Lincoln product, outrunning tornados and falling trees, and darned near killing one of their new cars – all against a backdrop of our Nation’s Capital.

The MKS is the new luxury sedan coming from the automaker this summer. It is built on a modified Taurus/Taurus X platform offering front- or all-wheel-drive and powered by a new 3.7-liter V-6 engine with Ford/Lincoln/Mercury’s first application of the new Eco-Boost technology coming in about 10 months.

MKS is targeted primarily at Gen-Xers, those that know what they want when they find it, not when someone else tells them. They are not as brand loyal as boomers (Town Car’s average buyer is 72 years of age) so many will be new to Lincoln, attracted by content, technology and appeal – all of which the MKS delivers in healthy doses.

If there is any doubt that MKS is a bold step for the automaker, one needs to look no further than their new marketing campaign that is getting underway as you read this. “Starships don’t need keys” says Lincoln marketing reps. Neither does the new MKS thanks to the next-generation SecuriCode keyless entry system along with the push-button start.
Other new technologies on MKS include adaptive cruise control (the stuff that lets you automatically pace behind the car in front on the highway), adaptive front headlight system (stuff that steers your headlights in the direction you are turning), forward sensing and rearview camera systems (the stuff that keeps you from running into things you cannot see), and the new EasyFuel capless refueling system (the stuff that allows you to gas up the vehicle without having to mess with a gas cap).

Yessir, certainly a lot of “stuff.” Plus all the usual comfort and convenience items that occupy the window sticker listings.

I paired up with a journalist from Chicago and we headed out in a loaded MKS with AWD wearing Lincoln’s new Tuxedo Black Clearcoat Metallic body paint that uses glass beads in the paint for a real sparkle in the sunshine. Unfortunately the sparkle did not last long as stormy weather soon approached near midday.

Our trusty Lincoln rep that was riding along to answer any questions we might have about the vehicle showed us the new SIRIUS Travel Link technology that allowed us to access live weather radar on our nav screen. “I think I can figure out the blue droplet icons on the screen,” I told our passenger, “but what does the little circle with the propellor blades in it mean?”
Yep, rotation – more commonly known as “tornados” here in North Texas.

So we high-tailed it outta there, only to find out that our pre-planned route back to the city from the winery (where we were NOT allowed to taste any wine) was taking us into the path of the storm that was now wreaking havoc all over eastern Virginia and parts of Maryland. We managed to avoid any severe weather but we did see a lot of aftermath which also meant we had to do a quick reroute around downed trees blocking roadways.
No problem there, the next-generation navigation system did a great job finding us alternate roadways.

The weather might have been a bit rough at times but the MKS was silky smooth on the road, with plenty of room for front and rear seat occupants. We did not experience a single negative thing in the new Lincoln … until we realized that one of those tree branch-covered roadways had somehow managed to split one of our transmission fluid lines. We nearly made it back to D.C. before she finally gave out and we had to hitch a ride back to the Ritz-Carlton with another team of journalists on the same drive program.

All-in-all, we enjoyed our time with the MKS despite a few hiccups thrown our way courtesy Mother Nature.
Lincoln has a new look and new attitude with the MKS, and we look forward to being able to spend more time with their new luxury sedan when production models make their way into the press fleet.

2009 Lincoln MKS quick specs:
3.7-liter V-6 24V Duratec 37
Six-speed automatic transmission
275hp/276 lb. ft. torque
EPA (FWD) 17mpg city/24mpg highway (AWD) 16mpg city/23mpg highway
Four-wheel disc antilock brakes
MacPherson strut front suspension
Independent multi-link coil-over shock rear suspension
18-inch wheels and tires standard/up to 20-inch optional
Heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats
Bridge of Weir leather seats
Best-in-class 18.4 cubic feet truck space
Base MSRP $39,555
As tested $46,070
On sale summer 2008.

Categories: Autos, Reviews

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3 replies

  1. Sounds like you had a really enjoyable time. Is the weather update dependent on cellular technology or radio waves? And does it provide additional information like gas prices and such?

  2. Great questions, thanks.
    The Travel Link system works on the next-gen navigation system which is tied to the satellite network. That may mean it is only available in North America where SIRIUS satellites orient their signals to.
    In addition to the weather maps, Travel Link does allow to check fuel prices and even goes so far as to prioritize them according to the detected route the vehicle is traveling. You can also get sports score updates and weekly schedules, movie listings (and purchase tickets), get five-day weather forecasting in addition to just radar, obtain real-time traffic info with speed/flow and incident information and get ski resort conditions.
    And it will keep playing your favorite SIRIUS programming while it is doing all that.
    The weather mapping had a nice scaling feature for 5-, 50- and 500-mile radius images, and on the five-mile scale gives local windspeed and direction markers on the screen as well.
    And, I could sit in the car in D.C. and check my local weather radar back home here in Dallas. Cool.


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