The New Face of Lincoln
by Joe LaMuraglia
Lincoln used to be known for what we called “land yachts”. You know, those massive Continentals from the ’60s and 70s that floated down the road with little road feel and slightly more control from the steering wheel than a rudder on a Hatteras Yacht. They tried to change their image with better product in the latter part of the century be outside of gaudy SUVs, the younger buyers didn’t even consider a Lincoln. With the introduction of the new 2009 MKS, Lincoln hopes to attract younger buyers with a new brand image that went to boarding school in Europe and got a new wardrobe and driving manners along the way.
The first thing you notice when you approach the new 2009 Lincoln MKS is that it doesn’t really look like a Lincoln at all. It has strong European styling cues (the taillights look like they came from a Quattroporte) and is seems shorter than its predecessors. It is tall and substantial with clean understated sides adorned by distinctive styling cues front and rear.
If you took the Lincoln emblem off the front and back it would be a challenge to identify the brand – and that is a good thing. With the Lincoln design team launching the MKS as the first example of their new design language, they needed more than a simple evolution. Truth be known, the new MKS has a lot in common with Lincolns of yore – just not ones that their target market will be familiar with. The double-wing grille that forms the face of the Lincoln is heavily inspired by a 1941 Lincoln Continental (think the grandfather of the car in Entourage).
A Strong Quiet Type
A new image requires new muscle and the MKS comes out of the box with a 3.7 V6 engine delivering 273-horsepower through a 6-speed automatic transmission. It is smooth and relatively quiet but it could use a little bit more power. The chassis is quite good and handled the winding roads outside of Washington, D.C as if it were a much smaller vehicle yet you could feel the engine straining against the weight of the MKS. Lincoln promises a more powerful twin-turbo, “Eco-Boost” in Ford speak”, V6 sometime during the 2009 model year.
While we car geeks like to compare numbers and make critiques like the one above, it is important to consider the target customer for this car. The traditional Lincoln buyer will most likely be happy with the performance of the MKS and they will revel in the incredibly quiet cabin and luxurious appointments offered. If Lincoln wants to attract import buyers and even get on the list of Cadillac CTS and STS intenders, then they need to pony up some more oomph.
Tons of Technology
An area where Lincoln product planners did an excellent job is in the area of incorporating technology. In addition to the bevy of electronics that help keep you from having an accident (stability control (AdvanceTrac),and available AWD) there are a multitude of technologies to protect you in the event of an accident. Those are cost of entry for the luxury segment. What Lincoln has done well is differentiate itself by offering excellent technologies like Sync – their voice-activated hands-free in-car communications and entertainment system. Another Ford/Lincoln exclusive is their next generation navigation system with SIRIUS Travel Link. Want to see if there is traffic on the route ahead? Check. Need to find the local weather? Check. Want to find the cheapest gasoline along the route? Check. Need to check sports scores and movie times. Check. Check. The last three features are exclusive to Ford/Lincoln for now and are an excellent example of integrating technology to make your life easier.
Music for Your Soul
I was impressed by the Lincoln MKS but thought that few of its features really make it stand out. It does a lot of things really well but many of its competitors do it better. Where the Lincoln got me and grabbed by the fiber of my soul was its THX II Certified 5.1 Surround Sound Audio System. Words cannot explain how good this system is. I loved it in the Navigator we tested a few years ago but the latest iteration in the MKS is almost enough to make me buy this car. If you love your music, take a CD, MP3 player or USB device and drive to your Lincoln store just to experience it. I promise, it is worth it.
On Your MKs, Get Set….
….and go down to your Lincoln dealer? Well, that depends. If you love your sports sedans and want an American version of a 5 series, don’t even think about it. The MKS doesn’t pretend to play that game and will disappoint you. However, if you don’t dream of the racetrack and want a distinctive American luxury car with some unique technology and one of the best stereos in the business, you should stop by your Lincoln store. Don’t forget to bring your music!
2009 Lincoln MKS
– FWD $37,655
– AWD $39,555
Photos courtesy of Lincoln
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