Review – 2011 Lincoln MKS Ecoboost: Another Gussied Up Ford?

Like so many people, I wonder what Lincoln is all about these days. Most models seem like gussied up Fords. It has gotten to the point where I wonder if Lincoln can really compete with the imports. Can it even compete with the domestics?

Let’s be frank, the exterior of the MKS bears quite a resemblance to the Taurus. It might not be so blatantly obvious if Ford and Lincoln didn’t share showrooms in many cities. From the high belt line to the high rear decklid, put the two cars next to each other, and the shadows will be almost exactly the same.

While the shape is similar, the details are are not. The MKS wears a large split grille up front, flanked by darkened headlight lenses. Out back you’ll find vertical taillights that flow into the rear bumper. While the 19-inch wheels fill the four holes at each corner nicely, it’s hard not to notice how much sheetmetal this car contains. It’s quite large.

While I like the way the exterior looks, it is definitely conservative and dare I say, bland. The metal doesn’t offer the unique shapes you will find on the German cars.

The interior of the MKS hasn’t had a refresh since it launched back in 2008. Every technology feature you could want is here. From the hard drive based navigation system with Microsoft SYNC technology, to the heated and cooled seats, nothing is left out. The MKS even has HD radio as standard equipment, a feature you can’t even get in some competing luxury cars.

One of the coolest pieces of technology in the MKS is the active park assist. Using the parking sensors the system searches for a spot that the MKS will fit in as you drive. Once you have passed a spot it recognizes is large enough, it will tell you to stop and put the car in reverse. The MKS will use the electric power steering system to steer the car into the parking spot perfectly, while you modulate the brakes. This is key: modulate the brakes. If you fail to do so, you’ll become quite friendly with the Subaru Forester that you are backing up towards. Note: no Subaru Foresters were injured during my week with the MKS.

The problem in the MKS has to do with the design. It’s not that it is bad, but it’s bland. I believe the word a few people used when riding in the MKS was boring. To better define what this means, I asked for clarification from my passengers. It mainly came down to how many luxury car interiors almost feel and look like a piece of artwork, while the interior of the MKS feels and looks like an American luxury car from 2008.

While many passengers during the week found the interior design to be bland. I was more concerned it was dated. The 2013 Taurus is getting MyFord touch along with other new Ford Motor Company technology. To date, no announcement has been formally made about the Lincoln MKS receiving this technology. This would mean that the cheaper Taurus model will offer more technology than the Lincoln MKS. This seems like a problem. Logic dictates that the MKS will receive the updated technology next year, but again, this hasn’t been confirmed.

My tester was equipped with the 3.5-liter Ecoboost V-6 which features twin-turbos and direct-injection. It is good for 355-horsepower and 350 pound feet of torque, all channeled through a six-speed automatic. That power is routed to all four wheels through an all-wheel drive system. The six-speed automatic transmission does offer paddle shifters, but expect a one to two second lag between shifts when using them.

The steering isn’t overly boosted and the power is linear in its delivery. As you would expect, the power is put down quickly with the all-wheel drive system. The six-speed automatic transmission is programmed to not upshift the second it can. The MKS Ecoboost is rated at 17/25 mpg, and I averaged 16.9 mpg in the suburbs during the week and 26.3 mpg on the highway with the cruise control set north of 70 mph. I will admit that I was somewhat aggressive in my city driving, leading me to believe you could beat the 17 mpg city rating if you don’t have your foot in it.

Let’s be straight, I think the Lincoln MKS Ecoboost is a really nice car. I’d even happily own one. But my tester wore a sticker price of $56,485, and at that price I’d walk right over to the competition. The MKS doesn’t feel like a $56k luxury car. Every passenger that rode in the MKS during the week thought it was a nice car, but was shocked to hear the price. It comes down to the competition offering sexier vehicles for similar money with competitive technology.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Ford

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