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MKS: New styling, more power & drivability

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MKS: New styling, more power & drivability

The 2013 Lincoln MKS has starting prices that range from about $47,000 to $51,000. The full-size sedan displays the new styling direction of Lincoln and gets more power, refinement and efficiencies.

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POSTED October 3, 2012 5:49 p.m.

The Lincoln MKS is an understated sedan ... until you rip lose its knotted necktie and pull the shifter into Sport mode. That simple, pleasure-inducing action sends a jolt to the 365-horsepower, Ecoboost V-6 and this luxo-cruiser swings like a businessman's battle-ax.

I tested a top-line Mark S (MKS) with all-wheel drive and the 3.5-liter, direct-injection V-6, which has a healthy 350 foot-pounds of torque that runs steady from 1,500 to 5,000 rpm. Pricing for this model, standard with AWD, starts at $50,675, including the $875 freight charge from Chicago.

In standard trim, the front-drive model has a 300-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 and starts at $46,685 or $45,680 with AWD. All models have a six-speed SelectShift automatic with steering wheel shifters, but the Ecoboost (turbocharged) model gets a heavy-duty transmission.

All models come with four-years or 50,000-miles of free, scheduled maintenance, including oil and filter changes and tire rotations.

MKS is a large sedan, competing with such cars as the Acura RL, Cadillac XTS and Chrysler 300. For 2013, MKS has been redesigned with the new styling direction of Lincoln. The vertical bars in the grille are thinner and more elegant, framed by HID headlights. The lower fascia was cleaned up to create an impression of low, wide and planted. There were redesigns to the trunk and rear fascia (now with LED tail lamps). Inside, there is a new instrument panel, new color schemes and new premium materials and more of the Scottish Bridge of Weir leather with attractive stitching.

Ride quality has been refined with the electronic Lincoln Drive Control, which responds to inputs from the driver and road. Sport mode sharpens shift points but also ride firmness, throttle response and steering feel. The handling becomes flat and predictable, particularly with all-wheel drive.

The heart of the suspension is Continuously Controlled Damping, which monitors shock-absorber settings up to 500 times a second and can adjust the ride quality 20 times a second.

The 3.7-liter V-6 has estimated fuel economy of 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, a 3-mpg highway improvement from 2012. Active grille shutters open and close depending on engine cooling needs. When fully closed, the shutters help reduce aerodynamic drag by 6 percent, which improves highway fuel economy.

The EcoBoost V-6 - more responsive than some V-8s I've tested - has fuel economy of 17/25 mpg. The engine can run on 87 octane fuel, but premium is required for that V-8 lunge.

There is a hands-on directness to driving the MKS. It feels protective and proactive. The electric steering was retuned for quicker, more fluid action; there is no bogging in response when sawing the wheel through a series of S-turns. The four-wheel discs are larger and vented, now at 13.85 inches front and 13.58 rear.

The cabin is quiet but not numb to inputs from the road. The test car's cabin was masculine with black leather, black fabric headliner, subtle chrome and dark wood. Sightlines are open and there is simplicity to the driver controls, even with the MyLincoln Touch controls. There has been much grumbling about these smartphone-like touch and sliding controls, but it only takes a few minutes of tutorial to master the actions. And there are several redundant steering wheel controls.

With a 12-way power adjustable driver seat, tilt and telescopic steering wheel and optional pedal adjustment, the MKS can fit just about anybody. Also standard is a 12-way power front passenger seat and heated and cooled front seats. It is time, however, to add an electric parking brake and the front doors need a second grab area on the armrest for better leverage when opening and closing.

The back seats are raised with a generous 38.6 inches of legroom, good footroom under the front seats and comfortable seatback angle. A fold-down armrest has storage, cup holders and access to the ski pass-through. Trunk space is expansive and tall at 19.2 cubic feet.

The Premium package, $4,600, includes desirable features, including Active Park Assist, which will park the MKS faster than most humans can. Also in the package are blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning, navigation system, rearview camera, multi-contour seats, heated steering wheel and heated rear seats. Adjustable cruise control with collision warning, $1,295, should be considered by all who have long commutes in heavy traffic. It's another set of eyes on the road that combined with lane-departure and blind-spot monitoring add layers of protection.

You will like the MKS if you are seeking a robust American-made car. You'll love this car after a Sport-charged run with the Ecoboost V-6.

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