2010 Lincoln MKS Ecoboost Review – Return of the hot rod Lincoln

Expert Reviews Lincoln

By Alex Kramer


  • Impressive 355 hp turbocharged engine
  • All-wheel drive provides wet weather confidence
  • Smooth, comfortable ride
  • Roomy, well-appointed interior
  • Active Park Assist really works


  • Strangely designed paddle shifters
  • A bit soft in the corners
  • Decent fuel efficiency, but not quite eco-friendly
  • Exterior design lacks flair

My pappy said, “Son, you’re gonna’ drive me to drinkin’
If you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot Rod Lincoln”

So opens Charlie Ryan’s classic song about fast cars and youthful exuberance. Recite these lyrics to any car enthusiast born after 1980, though, and you’ll probably get a puzzled look. For the generation raised on hot hatches and luxury sports sedans, Lincoln is one of the last car brands to be associated with speed or performance. And who can blame them, given the decidedly unsporty nature of most Lincolns from the past 30 years.

Someone from Ford Motor Co. apparently noticed this staid reputation and decided to inject some excitement into its luxury brand. With new exterior designs, a new naming scheme, and now turbocharged engines available in both the MKS sedan and MKT crossover, Lincoln is emerging as a credible player in the arena of high-performance luxury cars. After driving the turbocharged all-wheel drive MKS for a rainy winter week in Northern California, we were pleasantly surprised with the level of performance and value packed into this luxury sports sedan.

2010 Lincoln MKS


Although the idea of taking a sedan and dropping in a powerful motor to create a seriously fast car is hardly new, Ford has taken a decidedly modern approach to building its high performance version of the MKS. The EcoBoost™ 3.5 L V6 uses both direct-injection and twin turbochargers to produce an impressive 355 hp and 350 lb ft torque. Ford has been actively advertising this engine as being as powerful as a V8 but with the fuel efficiency of a V6, and on the first point we would definitely have to agree.

Nail the throttle and you instantly feel the prodigious torque being channeled through all four wheels, courtesy of the intelligent all-wheel drive that also comes standard when you order the turbo motor. Keep the gas pedal buried and you’ll reach 60 mph in just over 5 seconds, which should keep pace with V8 powered sedans from the likes of BMW, Audi, and Jaguar. Unfortunately, Ford’s promise of V6 fuel-efficiency is a bit of a stretch, especially if you find yourself as addicted to exercising the turbocharger as we are. Over several hundred miles of mixed driving the best we could do is a little over 19 mpg, which isn’t horrible and is probably a bit better than some V8 powered sedans, but it’s hardly eco-friendly.

The MKS features a six speed automatic transmission with manual mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Although having the choice to shift manually is helpful when driving hard, the paddle shifter design is less than brilliant. For downshifts you simply pull on either of the paddles, but up-shifts require you to push down with one of your thumbs on a tab that extends from the top of the paddle through the steering wheel, a rather impractical operation that takes some getting used to. We wish Ford would have stuck to the more common configuration where one paddle does upshifts while the other handles downshifts.

2010 Lincoln MKS

Out on the road the MKS doesn’t fully abandon its Lincoln roots, with a ride that is balanced more towards comfort than handling. Although not quite as plush as the barcalounger suspension you would find on an 80’s Mark VII, the MKS does an impressive job filtering out the bumps and potholes that are unfortunately so common on today’s roads.

Given the softer suspension tuning, you’d think the MKS would handle poorly, but this car has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to cornering. First, there is the all-wheel drive, which allows you to put more power down without losing traction, especially in the kind of wet, sloppy conditions that we experienced. Second, the MKS comes with a set of wide, low profile tires mounted on large 19” rims. Needless to say, these provide much more cornering grip than the skinny balloon tires you’d find on Lincolns of yore. All of this adds up to a car that handles itself quite well when the road turns twisty. Sure, you’ll never confuse an MKS for a Porsche, but comparing this Lincoln to, say, a BMW isn’t as far fetched as it used to be.

Active Technology

The MKS is available with several nifty active safety features, including adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, both of which use sonar to sense surrounding cars. As it states on the Lincoln website, “When adaptive cruise control detects traffic slowing, your vehicle also slows down. When it detects traffic has cleared, your vehicle resumes the set speed. Collision warning with brake support helps in case an accident appears imminent. This function will alert you if it senses a potential rear end collision with the car in front of you. A ‘head-up’ display, which simulates brake lights, flashes on the windshield. If you don’t react, and a collision is imminent, the brakes will pre-charge and increase brake assist sensitivity to provide full responsiveness when you brake.” We inadvertently tested the collision warning when traffic suddenly slowed down on a narrow two-lane highway and let’s just say that it works, although any loose objects in the car will come flying forward, so watch where you put that 64 ounce diet soda.

2010 Lincoln MKS - active technology Lincoln MKS HID headlights

Another new technology featured on the MKS Ecoboost is Active Park Assist, Ford’s answer to the never-ending challenge of parallel parking. To quote from the Lincoln website again, “Active park assist is nearly three times faster than the Lexus LS 460 L advance parking guide… and it’s simple to use. Once a parking spot is found, the driver maintains control of the gear shifting, accelerator and brake pedal. Then with a few actions on the driver’s part, the MKS parks into place.” Although this may sound overly boastful, we have to give Ford props for making a system that really does work. The trick Ford used is to rely on sonar, rather than optical cameras, to help the car steer itself into place. The best part is how quickly it executes the maneuver, which is essential for any real-world parallel parking situation.

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  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    I know I am an old man because this car appeals to me .It comes from Volvo genetics and that’s who built many of the cars I have owned over the last 20 years.If I went on frequent sales calls this would be the car for me.Ideal for client lunches and out to sporting events. I think it is handsome and say’s American car in the best use of that term.The grill reminds me of the classic Old’s Cutlass’s of 1969 and that’s when they made the awesome 442. I think of this as a bridge Car .As cars change to smaller lighter and alterna fuel vehicles there will always be room for a comfortable sedan.The age 40 to 70 age buy’s the majority of the high end vehicles and there should be something tailored for our age group .Go Lincoln.

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