2014 Lincoln MKS

The full-size MKS luxury sedan is Lincoln's replacement for the discontinued Town Car. Though based on the Ford Taurus, the MKZ justifies its higher pricetag with unique styling, a more upscale interior and additional technology features.

Recent Changes
For the previous model year, the MKS received a comprehensive refresh that brought updated styling, an adaptive damping system, improved brakes and numerous additional comfort and convenience features.

Overview

The MKS comes with a choice of naturally-aspirated and turbocharged V6 powerplants. The entry-level mill is a 3.7-liter unit that produces 304 horsepower and 279 lb-ft of torque, while a 3.5-liter turbocharged "EcoBoost" motor produces a healthy 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel-drive is standard with the EcoBoost and optional on the base motor, which otherwise comes with front-wheel-drive.

Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for the FWD 3.7-liter model, while the AWD variant drops a single mpg in the highway cycle. The EcoBoosted MKS returns 17/25 mpg.

Lincoln recently modified the steering ratio to match that of the MKT, switching from a 17.1:1 ratio to a 15:1 ratio to provide a faster response. This was made possible through gearing changes and the switch from hydraulic to electronic steering assist. Another key update arrived in the form of added standard stopping power, increasing the rotors to 13.86 inches in the front and 13.58 inches in the rear.

While the changes help the big sedan a bit more athletic, it still lags behind some rivals in the realm of handling. Its ride is suitably cushy, however.

Packed with technology
Being a luxury sedan means it better come to battle with plenty of technology-based gadgets and gizmos, such as auto high-beam headlamps that use a windshield-mounted camera to monitor oncoming cars and automatically active and deactivate the highbeams. Drivers can adjust sensitivity from "Near" to "Far."

The MKS also features Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning, Blind Spot Information System, MyKey, Lane Keeping System (combination of Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Keeping Alert), HD Radio and Sync with Traffic, Directions and information.

Standard audio comes from a 10-speaker, 210-watt system, while optional equipment includes an audiophile-approved, THX II certified system with 700 watts and 16 speakers (both systems feature two more speakers than the MKT).

All MKS models are equipped with SYNC, a Bluetooth-based connectivity system that allows smartphone users to place calls and stream music by using voice commands or steering wheel-mounted buttons. It can also read incoming texts aloud to help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road, and allows the use of Ford-approved apps like The Wall Street Journal news and Pandora radio.

Also included is MyLincoln Touch, an infotainment system that builds on SYNC by letting users control everything from navigation to climate control to the sound system with voice commands. MyLicoln Touch also replaces conventional sound system knobs and buttons with a center-mounted eight-inch touchscreen, dual 4.2-inch displays in the instrument cluster and touch-sensitive controls in the center stack. Many consumers report that the system is a "love it or hate it" item, so those interested in the MKT are advised to try before they buy.

Comfort counts
While surrounding the occupants with technology and updated looks were a good start, Lincoln decided it also wanted to up the comfort quotient with 12-way adjustable front seats, coated in high-end Bridge of Weir leather imported from Scotland. The driver gets to enjoy adjustable pedals and a power tilt/telescoping heated steering wheel.

New woods (Prussian Burl and Brown Swirl Walnut) and leather colors (Hazelnut and Light Dune) complete the extensive list of interior revisions for the refreshed sedan. While there is a consistency to the woods selected for the interior of the MKS, no two Lincoln interiors featuring natural woods display the exact same grain pattern.

Advanced Suspension Systems
For the latest model year the MKS received several new chassis technologies, including a Continuously Controlled Damping system. CCD makes use of 46 different inputs to send over 23,000 different packets of data to a computer each second, all helping to make decisions and adjustments to several aspects of the suspension based on the immediate road conditions.

CCD calculates the optimal damping force 500 times per second - making the mechanical changes 20 times per second on average, but up to 50 in the same time frame. The result? Body roll is down by up to 20 percent, understeer down by as much as 25 percent - while all the while improving comfort.

Another system aiding drivers and occupants in their travels is Lincoln Drive Control, which offers three default settings: Sport, Normal and Comfort. Sport Mode changes include a more responsive throttle, more precise steering, higher upshifts, less intrusive traction control and electronic stability control and a firmer suspension for minimized body roll.

Opting for Normal Mode will provide the best balance for daily driving, while Comfort Mode is intended for long Sunday drives or bumpy roads.

Standard and Optional Features
Regardless of which powertrain is equipped, the MKS comes standard with leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, MyLincoln Touch, SYNC, a rearview camera, mobile WiFi, a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM stereo system with AUX and USB inputs, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, adaptive xenon headlights with automatic high beams and 19-inc painted aluminum wheels.

The optional Premium package brings a navigation system, a 16-speaker premium audio system, a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals and a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert. To those features, the Elite Package adds heated rear seats, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, premium wood trim, automated parking assist and multicontour front seats.

Occupant Safety
All MKS models come standard with dual front, side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and electronic brake force distribution.

Key Competitors
The MKS competes against other large near-luxury sedans like the Chrysler 300, the Buick LaCrosse, the Acura RLX and the Cadillac XTS.