2009 Lincoln MKS Review – A shot in the arm for Ford

Wednesday March 18th, 2009 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: gmchan_66

2009 Lincoln MKS
By Gary Chan

Pros:

  • Microsoft Sync (for the most part)
  • Ride quality
  • Quiet cockpit

Cons:

  • Torque steer
  • Small rear seat
  • No auto unlock feature with smart key


Introduction

I’ve driven a handful of luxury vehicles as a tester, but most have been of foreign origin (Jaguar or Infiniti) so I was quite interested to see what America had to offer especially in light of the economy and current state of US car manufacturers.  Could Ford create a car that I’d want to buy?  Did the MKS have features that American’s want?  With questions like this, I was eager to test Lincoln’s mid-priced sedan.

2009 Lincoln MKS

Driving Impressions

The Tuxedo Black MKS was a front-driver with the 3.7 liter V-6.  Our tester was loaded with many of the optional packages: the technology package (adaptive HID headlights, intelligent access with push-button start), heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, 19” tires (stock are 18”), and the navigation package that includes a rear-view camera and a THX-II certified sound system. Surprisingly at this price point, a sunroof is an optional piece of equipment.

My neighbor walked over, and asked, “Is that the new Altima?”.  I had to laugh and explain to him that it was a Lincoln.  Sure it has a similar shape as the Nissan, but the MKS is a bit larger.  Having an easy egress feature that moves everything out to the way (seat and steering wheel) as with many luxury vehicles, it’s easy to exit and enter the driver’s seat.  The V-6 is smooth and well insulated from the cockpit.  Flooring it, I was surprised by the amount of torque steer transmitted through the steering wheel.

The 6-speed SelectShift Automatic Transmission is geared towards smoothness with widely spaced gears; mashing the throttle, you barely notice the shift points.  Pushing the gear lever to the right, manual shifting works holding the gears and again shifting smoothly.

My wife praised the ride in the MKS regarding its ability to absorb road irregularities as well as insulating passengers from road/wind noise.  I wish the dampers were a little firmer especially for the long drive up the narrow and winding road to the Lick Observatory at the top of Mt Hamilton.  I had to drive a bit slower than accustomed due to the lean and push of the car (which may also be due in part to the weight).

Picking up the car at night, I didn’t have any time to learn about all the features, and was surprised when the high beams came on automatically on long stretches of darkness.  I was amazed at how intelligent the sensors are never blinding any on-coming cars (the system looks for headlights and taillights).  Note this feature is can be turned off.  The adaptive xenon headlight cast a wide and uniform blanket of light especially helpful when turning dark corners.

Build

The build of the car is solid (rigid) with no noticeable frame flex.  Doors and trunk close solidly with no rattles or squeaks.  Panel gaps are uniform, and paint is smooth and consistent.   The stitched leather dash is attractive with fairly straight stitch-lines. One defect was the adhesive on the thin strip of Velcro (holding the trunk liner at the top of the trunk): it lost its grip allowing the liner to sag noticeably.  For a car that had 1k+ miles, it’s not a mark of quality manufacturing (but it’s the only thing I found).

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

SEATS/DRIVING POSITION: With the adjustable seats and tilting/telescoping steering wheel, I easily found a comfortable seating position.  These are comfortable power seats wrapped in soft leather.  Switches on the left side of the leg bolster are intuitive to use, and once a driving position has been selected, it can be allocated to one of two memory buttons.  Choosing to heat or cool the seat is an easy process with two buttons on the center console.  Press the color coded icon (i.e., a red chair for heating) once to activate the maximum setting; you can and twice more to reduce the heating before turning the feature off.

2009 Lincoln MKS interior 2009 Lincoln MKS interior Lincoln MKS navigation system

SOUND SYSTEM:  Just above the nav screen on the center speaker grill is a “THX Certified” logo so I had high expectations of the sound system.  Of all the cars driven, this is the first THX-certified car I’ve driven and it did not disappoint.  I found myself bringing action movies to the car just to watch them and be “wowed” by the surround sound.  Pretty awesome.  I showed it to a few guy friends, and they were amazed at the detailed imaging and distinct sound paths (i.e., sounds on the left moving front to back or crossing the MKS’s cockpit).  My one word description of the system: KILLER!

CENTER CONSOLE and NAVIGATION:  The controls for the basic features are clearly labeled and or color coded.  Thank goodness, Lincoln didn’t go the route of the European manufacturers that confuse drivers with a multitude of non-intuitive icons.  The navigation system is accurate and easy to use with a comprehensive POI database.  To find a location, you enter the street address first, and you’re provided with a list of cities that have that street name.  I prefer the other way around: entering the city, then the street effectively narrowing the first.  Via the sound menu, you can rip cd’s to the on-board hard drive (aka, the “jukebox”).  The backup camera is similar to the system used by Nissan with an overlay of your intended path with color-coded zones.

Lincoln MKS key fob Lincoln MKS THX certified sound system

MICROSOFT SYNC: Connecting my older Sanyo phone to the MKS was a seamless process with simple instructions.  After the sync was complete, I easily uploaded all of my contacts into memory as well placing it high on the list for ease of integration.  Using my phone via the car’s sound system worked extremely well with the system automatically muting the sound system or navigation instructions accordingly.  Unfortunately, all was not roses.  I tried the dialing by name feature (using the steering wheel mounted button), and tried calling “Jason xxx”  via voice command, but ended up calling “Mary xxx”.  There’s no confirmation of what the system is about to dial (whether correct or not), and proceeds to dial the number.  I tried cancelling the call using the on-screen “cancel” button, but it began to dial and ring incorrectly.  I was able to finally cancel the call, and shortly after, received a call back from my friend Mary.  Oops.  At least I had a good time catching up with Mary.  Overall, the Microsoft Sync integration is pretty good, but believe I need to practice a bit more to perfect the functionality.

KEY FOB:   It’s called the Intelligent Access key fob, but why doesn’t it use its intelligence to unlock the car when I approach or stand by the door?  Instead, you have to touch the SecuriCode keypad on the door frame.  Otherwise, it worked flawlessly when using the keyless push-button start.

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