Lincoln MKS EcoBoost — Performance makes this the flagship

By Al Vinikour

There are certain cars I drive that a blind man could see I don’t belong in. However, I’ll occasionally test one that fits just right. In this instance it was the 2010 Lincoln MKS with Ford’s new EcoBoost engine. A cynic might take one look at the MKS and say, “That’s nothing but a Taurus with better clothes.” Clothes may make the man but luxury, styling and performance make the MKS. Granted, MKS and Taurus may be made on the same assembly line but that’s like saying you can get a filet and a round steak from the same cow.

There are two trim levels for the new MKS: the MKS, standard with FWD and available AWD; and MKS EcoBoost. The base MKS comes with a 3.7L Duratec DOHC 24-valve V-6 that puts out a respectable 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It’s bolted to a 6-speed SelectShift automatic (that means you can run it through the gears if you wish). 

My test vehicle was the MKS EcoBoost, fitted with Ford’s all-new 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 that produces 355 hp and 350 pound-feet of torque. It’s a twin-turbocharged engine with standard AWD. EcoBoost gives the power of a large V-8 but also gives the fuel economy of a smaller V-6. All EcoBoost engines are coupled to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with Paddle Shift Activation (steering wheel mounted paddle shifters).

The ride is what you’d expect from a Lincoln, but EcoBoost models have done it one better. Road-handling refinements, like larger stabilizer bars front and rear, an entirely new front sub-frame, dual roll restrictors and other handling dynamics are matched to the more powerful engine. Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics have been improved from the ground up, including additional bracing and strategically-placed sound-deadening materials, making MKS one of the quietest cars on the road.

Even turning loose the power of the EcoBoost on a freeway doesn’t do much to the noise level. Because of the Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) it seems the faster you go the tighter the ride is. With the EcoBoost appearance package comes 20” x 8” chrome cast aluminum wheels and P245/45R20 V-rated all-season tires.

Styling is long and sleek. It sports the signature Lincoln “Big Tooth” grille, sculptured sides, a pair of really cool taillamps and also a pair of chrome exhaust extensions. At first and last sight this is not a car you’d associate buying on the “final purchase plan.”

Entering the interior of the MKS EcoBoost is like stepping inside a private club. Premium leathers are found throughout as is real wood and metal accents. A handsome center console houses two cup holders, although one is so small that it’s not possible to put two Dunkin’ Donuts-sized large coffee cups in them. There’s a two-stage storage facility in the console and individual sliding arm rests atop it.

The instrument panel is very elegant-looking. Large dials with white background make reading them a snap. There’s a digital information system located within the panel itself. My test vehicle had the standard THX-11 Certified Premium Sound System and the voice-activated DVD navigation system. Unlike a lot of gadget-filled systems the one in the MKS is not only intuitive…but it’s kind of fun (unless you have a life, which apparently I don’t).

There’s plenty of leg and shoulder room in the rear seat – even with the third person stuck in the middle (it would be better if this person wasn’t there but sometimes there’s not that luxury). The trunk is decent-sized but the opening to it is very small for a car in this segment. Rather than the bottom of the decklid being flush with the trunk floor it’s raised and one has to lean over a pronounced lip. 

The 2010 MKS has a pair of integrated blind spot mirrors in the side-view mirror housings. I understand the concept of them but I just couldn’t seem to get used to them. I would much rather had one of my favorite pieces of technology – the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS).

Among other technology offerings for the 2010 MKS are rain-sensing wipers, SYNC with traffic, directions and information, Sirius Travel Link, Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Sensing System, rear view camera and a host of others – either standard or available as the case may be.

Safety features are also plentiful. Among them are AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control, Collision Warning with Brake Support, Safety Canopy System, SOS Post-Crash Alert System, Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and all the other safety items you’d expect on a full-size luxury car like MKS.

Base price for a 2010 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost is $48,585 including destination and delivery charges. By comparison the base MKS AWD is $43,585. With the EcoBoost engine and all the extra content the higher-end vehicle has, if you’re looking for a car in this segment you’ll do the right thing by spending the extra $5,000.

The new MKS and all the other 2010 offerings from Lincoln sure put to rest the image of Lincolns being Grampa’s old man car. Seeing the MKS EcoBoost may make old Gramps feel like Orville Wright if he ever saw the Space Shuttle.

Base price: $48,585; as driven, $53,825 est.

Engine:  3.5L EcoBoost V-6

Horsepower: 355 @ 5,500 rpm 

Torque: 350 pound-feet @ 3,500 rpm
Drive: AWD 

Transmission:  Electronic 6-speed w/SelectShift Automatic
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase:  112.9 inches

Length: 204.1 inches

Curb weight: 4,276 pounds est.

Turning circle: 39.7 feet

Cargo volume: 18.7 cubic feet 

Fuel capacity: 19 gallons 91-Octane recommended

EPA rating: 25 mpg highway, 17 mpg city

0-60: 5.3 seconds (est.) 

Also consider: Buick LaCrosse, Infiniti M35, Hyundai Genesis 

The Good:

• Awesome power and technology
• Very good 6-speed transmission

• Extremely quiet on the highway
• Roomy, pleasant ride and fun to drive

The Bad:
• Small trunk opening
• Second cup holder in console way-too-small

The Ugly
• Lincoln’s signature big-tooth grille
• Too many names and acronyms for us simple minded