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Lincoln MKS – New Lincoln Flagship

AutoPacific and VehicleVoice just drove the all new Lincoln MKS in Washington DC and rural Virginia. We were the third of three waves of journalists and analysts to evaluate the MKS, but our wave had the added advantage of driving through a microburst of wind, thunder and lightning that tested the car’s systems from its all wheel drive, rain-sensing windshield wipers and latest generation SIRIUS Travel Link system. So the first two waves drove the cars in perfect weather and we got the best of it – a challenge.
Competes With Executive Luxury Products
The Lincoln MKS is a contemporary luxury car positioned against the Cadillac STS V6 and Lexus GS350. Other competitors Lincoln identifies are the Acura RL, Infiniti M35, and up-level Cadillac CTS. There was even mention of Nissan Maxima and Hyundai Genesis. The MKS is actually longer than the BMW 750Li and competes well in interior spaciousness even with the long wheelbase competition (BMW 750Li and Lexus LS460 L). Lincoln won’t have to apologize for the car being a “little Lincoln”… it is full sized.
Against its STS and GS competition, Lincoln has a good value story being base-priced thousands less and including gobs of standard equipment. In fact, loading up an MKS to the specs I would personally choose yields a price point of about $43,000 for the AWD version.

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New Lincoln Design Cues Begin Appearing on MKS
Styling is not particularly head-turning, but Ford’s stylists were able to push the design envelope a bit further than when the MKS was first seen at auto shows about 18-months ago. Since then, Ford Design has developed a palette of Lincoln DNA design cues that were rushed into production on the MKS. The result is an MKS style that incorporates Lincoln’s new bow wave grille, simple bodyside sculpturing and a kickup over the rear wheels in the rear quarter panel. There is a large Lincoln star placed on the rear surface of the front fender – a cue we will be seeing on future Lincolns. The rear end has LED taillamps distinguished by hockeystick shaped backup lamps on the inboard surface. A cue we particularly like – borrowed from the BMW 750Li and Infiniti M are the fore-to-aft bright inserts in the roof panel. Nice touch. The MKS can be had with large 20-inch tires and wheels that really fill the wheel openings but don’t deteriorate ride quality.
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Powertrain “Competitive” – For Now
The MKS is powered by a 3.7L V6 derived from the excellent Ford 3.5L V6 found in the Lincoln MKZ luxury mid-size car and MKX crossover SUV… and also in the Ford Edge and Ford Flex. The 3.7L Lincoln V6 has 273-horsepower and will propel the 4,276 pound car from 0-60mph in 7.7 seconds in front wheel drive form and 8.0 seconds with AWD. MKS’ 17-city/23-highway fuel economy will yield between 323 and 437 miles on a tank of regular gasoline. The MKS has a 19-gallon fuel tank that we think is a bit small for this class of car. What this realistically means is that you’d be filling up about every 250-miles.
We say the powertrain is “competitive” because it is, in some ways, a holding action until the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 arrives “within ten months”. The twin-turbo EdoBoost system promises to deliver 340-horsepower. Can’t wait to drive one of those.
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Interior an Electronics Tour de Force
The interior of the MKS is ergonomically excellent. Good ingress. Good egress. Good visibiity. The controls are easy to read and easy to understand. Sitting in the supportive new Lincoln seats (that are heated and cooled standard) provides easy access to the center stack that is dominated by an 8.5-inch screen for the standard SYNC system and optional Voice-Activated Navigation System with SIRIUS Travel Link. Unlike some systems, the navigation system is intuitively obvious and Travel Link can be an important addition to in-vehicle communications.
in our experience, Travel Link Weather worked flawlessly. After only a few second delay, we were able to determine that we were surrounded by weather. Thunderstorms north and west of us. Hail here and there. Wind everywhere. Lightning strike on the right; on the left; in front. Now, as a California boy who rarely sees weather, this Virginia microburst was a great experience. The roads were deserted, but there was a reason for that. No cars were approaching because trees were down across the roads. We tried four different avenues of escape after setting the nav system to get us directly back to our hotel in DC. Finally, after turning onto the fifth route, we saw a Virginia DOT frontloader finishing pushing a large tree from across the road and we were free. The following morning DC broadcasters were reporting on the storm and claiming that up to 500,000 homes were temporarily without power.
Without the nav system and Travel Link Weather, this could have been a much more dangerous and frustrating experience.
Target Buyer – Xtrapreneur
Pei-Win Hsu, the marketing manager for the MKS describes the target audience for the MKS as an Xtrapreneur. These aren’t the post-Boomer buyers Lincoln usually attracts, but folks Californians are accustomed to dealing with every day. An Xtrapreneur is a person who may wear a $21,000 Cartier watch or a $30,000 Brietling with (Levi) jeans, (Ralph Lauren) polo shirt and (Sperry) topsiders. This is a person who may have one or two bottles of $1,000 wine in their cellar, but be an expert on $15 bottles of Australian Shiraz. MKS may appeal to these people because it is not ostentatious, but does have the features and competence that confirms they have made a wise purchase decision. They want high quality and personal gratification for a good price, and MKS appears to offer that.
Job #1 was on May 5, 2008. Pei-Win Hsu says that they had 3,304 firm retail orders on hand as of June 5 and dealers had ordered about 8,000 for dealer stock so far. Deliveries will start in late June through early July with TV advertising already on the air – 1st week of June.

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