2010 Lincoln MKS: Technology Improves Driving

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We recently spent a few days with a Lincoln MKS equipped with EcoBoost and its host of technology features. Not industry firsts, Lincoln’s execution is impressive. From headlights that adjust high- or low-beam spread based on conditions to adaptive cruise control and parallel parking assist, these systems work smoothly and confidently. As systems like these tend to get better quickly after their first automotive application, Lincoln should still be commended for putting together a comprehensive and usable package.
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If you’re driving the MKS EcoBoost, you have a willing and comfortable partner in a stylish package (assuming you’re a fan of the chrome-laden signature grille, of course); the 355HP powertrain moves the 4300-pound vehicle along briskly. Not only heavy, MKS is big, and feels it. Looking at its specs on paper tells you that, standing next to it tells you that, and driving it reminds you of it all the time. MKS is relatively nimble, but this is not one of those big-but-drives-small kind of cars, a trait perfectly appropriate for what is functionally a modern Town Car. The MKS driving dynamics seem pretty spot on. There’s power, comfort, a compliant but not overly soft ride, and plenty of technology to make being in it as easy as possible. I can’t say sporting. This is not a sports sedan, but offers grace and presence, with the muscle to back it up.
MKS is sized between an Audi A6 and A8, BMW 5-Series and 7-Series, and Mercedes E- and S-Classes, and slightly bigger than the Cadillac STS. Our EcoBoost could boast a nearly $57,000 price tag. While a healthy number, to be sure, in context of the amenities, style, and power offered, the price seems quite reasonable.


Technology Won Me Over
I’ve driven cars with adaptive cruise control (adjusts cruising speed based on traffic–automatically slowing when necessary and then resuming the set speed), but not often felt confident in their overall behavior. In the Lincoln, the system operated seamlessly on the freeways around southeastern Michigan. Like others, you can adjust the gap between your car and the vehicle in front based on your own faith in the system and to adjust for the driving situation.
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Blended in with the Adaptive Cruise Control system is Collision Warning Brake Support. That’s a feature I find more difficult to test–designed to help drivers who’ve become distracted or otherwise come up on a dramatically slowed or stopped vehicle when they didn’t expect it by pre-conditioning the brakes and providing a visual and audible alert–because the distance I want to keep between me and the car in front is high enough the system doesn’t have a chance to respond. Having said that, it did alert me to the parked car across from me as I left a parking space one night. I was backing out, not going forward, and the vehicle in front of me certainly had not escaped my attention. I expect that the collision braking system will do more than its share of preventing rear-end collisions over time, but attentive drivers are likely to rarely see it in action.
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Other features that were impressive included the auto high-beams and adaptive headlights. Before I even had a chance to move my hand and put the high beams on at my own motivation, there they were. And they were just as effective turning back off when lighting was stronger and/or there was oncoming traffic. The adaptive headlights sweep much more smoothly than even BMW’s, again giving you light just as you need it, and are a far better solution than the VW corner lighting system. (In VW’s case, there are corner lights that turn on depending on the angle of steering and then back off–that system is low-cost and abrupt, more of an annoyance than a help.) Certainly, Lincoln is not alone in offering these features. But they’ve done both well.
I’ve seen the parallel parking system in operation, and it is impressive. While the Lexus system gets traffic around the parker impatient because it takes so long and is so complicated to set, the Lincoln system is smooth and fast.
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Sync is continually being enhanced, and the navigation system sports the Sirius Travel Link weather map introduced last year. Sync is still a great feature, though I find the speakerphone booming sound of using Sync in large cars (or CUVs like the Flex) to produce conversations more filled with “What did you say?” and “Huh?” and “Please repeat” than meaningful conversation. Lincoln made MyKey standard for the EcoBoost MKS, a feature we covered at its introduction last year and still believe can be a handy tool for parents of teenagers.
Lincoln offers Intelligent Key and rain-sensing windshield wipers, and makes heated-rear seats standard with the EcoBoost model, all three features that have won me over in general. Rain-sensing windshield wipers often react faster than the driver, and it is terrific to pretty much always have a clear windshield, having the car nearly sense your need. (Of course, snow can confuse some systems into waking prematurely.) Lincoln’s Intelligent Key and Push Button start, optional on the MKS is on par with anyone else’s. Where most sytems add a small button to the doorhandle for locking the car without pulling out the fob, in the Ford-Lincoln-Mercury system, one uses the door-mounted keypad all models are offered with. Clever of them to use a bit already on the car, but to lock the doors here you push and hold the lower two buttons. A really very minor niggle, but the basic process takes a bit longer than the single-button approach. When approaching the car, touching the pad at any point will unlock it. Seems like locking should be just as simple.
Technology as Intended
Overall, the MKS offers a stable ride, good power, and technology with the ability to improve your life and driving experience, rather than complicate things. And isn’t that what technology is for?
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