RETURN OF THE HOT ROD LINCOLN
2013 Lincoln MKS
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Mon, Oct 8, 2012
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Words and pictures by Doug Stokes Here’s the official meta word for this one: unapologetic. Three (no, four) syllables, but easy to understand when one drives this super-solid and final piece of hard evidence that the four-door lux-performance-touring category is no longer the prevue of the Teutons and/or the Japanese. On first viewing, the MKS is unmistakably bold-appearing: up-turned at the edges, snarling grille that pulls one’s eyes inexorably back to this car’s almost shoulder-high beltline, and on around to the tail which (at least for me) reminisces about one of my favorite Lincoln models of all time, the fierce/graceful MKVII LSC of the mid-late 80s. It’s as if to say, "We've had far enough of this cab forward stuff." The MKS has a bold face, a sneering one that almost startles and always announces. There are certain general price thresholds that I see. Basically the number 20,000 (dollars) seems to be one that holds a lot of attention. Under 20 = an economy car, and the next break seems jump right past 30, 40, and there’s that “50-thousand dollar car that so-and-so down the block drives.” We’re talking here about a car that stickers out at: $58,265.00.
One expects luxury, great seats, hand-stitching, a high level of fit and finish, a great ride, a hard-working-but-quiet chassis, and no-nonsense handling with any car in the +$50K price range. One also expects decent acceleration. With the EcoBoost one may well expect even better than “decent” acceleration. Let’s talk blazing. Yeah, I called it blazing acceleration. That’s the magic that possessing perfectly matched horsepower and torque numbers like these (365/350 respectively) produce. Direct (fuel) injection also has a hand in the forward thrust department. The system of injecting fuel directly into the combustion chamber at precisely the correct time makes a noticeable difference in. Let’s call it “engine briskness”. The response time is only a few milliseconds different than old-style upstream injection somewhere in the intake system, but the result is palpable, the engine control is precise and point-on, every second. The above direct injection combined with two small1 turbos (one for each bank of three cylinders in this 3.5-liter V-6) adds up to some very strong stuff on the street. You won’t be smoking the tires with this one, but that’s for the kids anyhow. You will be making yourself scarce, however. You’ll want to run 91 octane fuel on all but the coolest days of the year and the 17 city/25 hwy estimate does not exactly put this one into the econo-car category, but, in truth, and for the heft and horsepower that this all-wheel-drive machine is pulling along, it’s not bad fuel mileage at all. And I’m sure that it was intended, not just a happy coincidence (by the way nothing on this car seems an afterthought) but the sound that this engine makes when aroused is flat-out wonderful. It’s serious without a hint of strain, no ears will be split, nor bleeding here of course, but the note is quite legible and nicely authoritarian.
With this car turbo-charging officially becomes much more than some sort of cool-to-talk-about add-on hot rod part deal. There’s no dash gauge to watch the little needle. Your compressed butt and your snapped neck do all the talking. The look here is solid and absolutely nothing that this car does belies that impression. The high sides of this formal body style give the MKS a fortress-like feeling. Those are four bank vault doors masquerading as car doors, by the way. That sort of superior chassis stiffness allows the four-wheel independent suspension to work properly and that adds up to a stable confident ride. Truth be expressed, I prefer smaller, nimble automobiles to the big boys like this one. But this car seems to grow smaller (and more nimble) every day that I drive it (we typically are loaned cars for one week here at LA Car—just enough time to fall in or out of love). In fact with a couple more weeks in the nicely-stitched leather seats of this MKS, I could be tossing it around like an Austin-Healy Sprite with 45 psi in the tires. Of course that’s precisely why the manufacturers only give us the keys to review cars for the one week. One of the long list of special features that the MKS has on its call sheet is Auto Park. At first I thought that was a place where one left the car when one was not driving it. Turns out it is a system that (somehow) parallel-parks this $50K car for you. I did not even think about trying the thing, I’ve since had a number of (fairly) believable journo-friends assure me that it works, and I’ll believe them here.
One other safety system that I did not have any sort of sky-high anticipation for was what I call the built-in spotter (a part of the “Equipment Group 202A”). Lincoln actually calls it the Blind Spot Monitoring System. There’s a quarter-inch lamp in each rear view mirror, easy to see day and night, it lights up when another car (truck, bus, whatever) is in the wrong place at the wrong time (AKA, your blind spot). I am surprised at how well it works, and even more surprised at how many times I look at the mirrors in my personal beater hoping for the same after I drove the MKS. It’s an inspired pro-safety item2—especially in this car with its aforementioned palace wall high sides and B-pillars that had to be a foot wide, but I’d opt for it in any car that I owned and would surely get more honest value out of it than auto park any day in the week. As you might expect, the MKS has fully adjustable (12-way!) seats up front. Expectedly, the seats are heated, and happily (LA undergoing a 10-year high cycle of murderously high temperatures as I write) air-conditioned as well. And, yup, those are “Dubs” on the four corners of the car—20-inch wheels with big aggressive tires as befitting a full-time all-wheel drive system. A very cool (to me) dual panel moon roof (which I use and my wife thinks is silly) put an additional $1,695.00 on the tab. There’s a remote start button on the no-key “key”-thing whatevertheycallit fob thing. More a novelty here in So Cal is the remote start feature. I guess that I’m not as concerned about seeing my car exploding in flames from the driver’s seat than some. A novelty for me, I suppose that the ability to start a car and have the A/C or the heater working away before one gets in has a certain cachet. Speaking of cachet, the combination of a sharpened “tuxedo black metallic” outer shell and a softened “hazelnut premium leather” interior gave the MKS just the right sense of casual formality. Not a day at the beach car, but great for a late night cruise up PCH.
I found the paddle shifters (oh yeah, we gotta have that on a performance car, right?) on about day four of the seven days I had the keys to this one. Not that they weren’t fun, but this car hardly needs me to telling what gear to use where. It’s a six-speed automatic that’s as crisp as the best manual and (much) faster-shifting without any of my help. Overall, we have a superior, special car that seemed ready for anything, and that does everything right without ever breaking a sweat. This sort of competence has a price, in this case the value seems totally in line with the dollars asked for it. One small here by no means indicates meager or inadequate, in fact, two small(er), lighter turbochargers can spin up far quicker than one big one. They are a direct contributor to the sharpness of response that we (very much) enjoyed while driving the MKS. Two pro-safety items (great brakes, sharp handling, supportive seats, and this one, like a NASCAR spotter in your ear (except this one’s in your mirror) are used to keep you from having to find out how many damn airbags a vehicle has, how well the doors stay closed in a vicious side impact, or how well they’ve engineered the hood to fold under in a frontal “big one” instead of coming through the windshield for you. POSTSCRIPT As an example of what I’ll call a “post” safety system, this Lincoln came with called an “SOS Post Crash System” … happily we did not test that bit of standard equipment.
SIDEBAR COMMENT The Santa Monica Cops Know Their Cars I was on the way, and almost late, for a look at the new Chevy Spark (see my notes elsewhere on this site) and got sort of lost in Venice, California. Truthfully I had not set up the nav screen, thinking that I knew precisely where I was going. Anyhow, I slowed down and almost pulled over to make a quick call to the hotel where the event was being held (note that word “almost”). It took a fairly long time for the hotel operator to answer (and a bit of confusion on directions—I was only about a mile away—because the desk person that I was talking to go to work from the other way than the way that I was coming). Anyhow I’m driving along very slowly …And …Santa Monica lights me up. Two of Samo’s finest are slowing down behind me. Of course I pretend that my phone is a ice cream sandwich to no avail. The younger guy comes up to my window and asks the inevitable, “Do you know why I’m stopping you sir?” my answer is “Yeah, the phone”. He second question is slightly less routine, “How long have you been in California?”...“No offense sir, but since 1952” was my non-flippant (and technically-correct) answer.” The question was posed because the MKS had Michigan plates. He got my Cali D/L all of the papers that come with press cars and took them back to his unit. About two minutes later he came back, handed me back all the docs, and said: “We’re not going to write you Mister Stokes.” “Thanks officer, I’ve learned my lesson.” Then the other officer, the older one comes in the passenger side window, leans halfway in and points to the dash. “Mister Stokes, this car has the Ford Sync System, you should have synched your phone up to the car when you picked it up, it’s very easy.” A Santa Monica cop telling me about the car that I’m reviewing? Indeed! In truth, there was a missing chip and I could not have synched-up even if I actually had taken the time to do it. Next time! Right? -DS For more information about Lincoln products, go to www.lincoln.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Lincoln MKS Price: 42,810 (base) $48,800 (with EcoBoost twin-turbo V6) $57,390 (as tested) EPA fuel economy rating (miles per gallon): 17 city/25 highway/20 combined Engine: 3.5-liter EcoBoost 24-valve direct-injection V6 with twin-turbochargers Horsepower: 365 at 5500 rpm Torque: 350 pound-feet at 1500-5000 rpm Transmission: Six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with manual mode and paddle shifters Steering: Electric power-assisted rack and pinion Drive configuration: All-wheel drive Suspension Front: Independent MacPherson Struts, Rear-Facing L-Shaped Lower Control Arm, Isolated Subframe, Stabilizer Bar Rear: Independent Multi-Link with 1:1 Shock ratio and Stamped Steel Lower Control Arm, Isolated Subframe, Stabilizer Bar Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs with four-wheel ABS (four channel); AdvanceTrac® with ESC® (Electronic Stability Control™) including Curve Control and Torque Vectoring Control Dimensions Length: 205.6 inches Width: 75.9 inches Height: 61.6 inches Curb weight: 4480 pounds