By KBB.com Editors
While the 2011 Lincoln MKS is loosely based on the excellent Volvo-derived architecture that underpins the new Ford Taurus, it bears little resemblance to its lesser cousin. The successful delivery of Lincoln's flagship MKS (S for sedan), and its well-received twin-turbo EcoBoost engine should put an end to the rumors and grumblings of Lincoln's demise, as well as put competitors such as Cadillac and Lexus on notice. About the only thing we question is Lincoln's move from names with heritage to MK-this and MK-that, but at least (unlike some) that key third letter helps identify the model.You'll Like This Car If...
If you like this new Lincoln's look, especially its heritage-based "double-wing" grille, there's not much to dislike about it. With an agreeable balance of performance, efficiency, room and value, and front- or available all-wheel-drive, it lacks only most rivals' rear-wheel drive and a prestigious import nameplate.You May Not Like This Car If...
While Lincoln's flagship sedan punches most of the right buttons, competition at this level is tough. Most competitors offer rear-wheel drive, available higher performance and better-respected brand names. If you're willing to pay more for it, a German or Japanese or a domestic Cadillac luxury sedan may suit you better.What's New for 2011
For 2011, HD Radio is added to the Lincoln MKS' available voice-activated navigation system.Driving It Driving Impressions
The MKS follows through on its good first impression. Power from its 3.7-liter V6 is strong, smooth and responsive, and its cabin is unusually quiet and serene at any reasonable speed. The MacPherson-strut and lower-control-arm front suspension maximizes travel, while the fully independent rear arrangement isolates noise and harshness without isolating the driver from feeling the road. One unique element is rear shock absorbers mounted vertically at the outboard ends of the suspension arms, near the wheels, to accommodate the available 20-inch wheels while allowing precise suspension tuning. The power rack-and-pinion steering is precise and responsive, the brakes are powerful and secure, and the car feels surprisingly agile for its size.Favorite Features
Voice-Activated Navigation with SIRIUS Travel Link
This state-of-the-art system integrates climate control and SIRIUS Satellite Radio into a large, easy-to-use touch-screen display. It also provides up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information, current gas prices, sports scores and movie listings, and it can store, catalog and play more than 150 hours of music.
Jointly developed by Ford and Microsoft and standard on the MKS, this industry exclusive, voice-activated hands-free communications and entertainment system fully integrates most Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital media players into the vehicle.
The 2011 Lincoln MKS cabin marries best-in-class interior and cargo volume to a precision-crafted environment of hand-wrapped, double-stitched premium leather, genuine wood and sculpted aluminum accents. The symmetrical instrument panel, an updated version of the design found in the Lincoln Navigator, MKZ and MKX, is bisected by a strip of sculpted wood, and its upper surface is durable leatherette. The standard leather seats have supportive side bolsters, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is topped by a strip of real wood, the round gauges are ringed in delicate chrome, and a large, integrated information/navigation screen tops the center stack.Exterior
The MKS was the first new production Lincoln with design elements harvested from signature Lincoln cues of the past, styling that is now standard across the brand's lineup. Its most striking exterior feature is a double-wing grille inspired by that of the 1941 Lincoln Continental. A sculpted hood, a fast-raked windshield and a beltline that kicks up slightly over the rear wheels are highlighted by polished stainless steel side window surrounds. Around back, vertical white light strips separate LED tail lamps from the decklid edges, and a horizontal chrome strip along the rear deck is inset with a Lincoln star.Notable Standard Equipment
This well-equipped Lincoln packs all expected bells and whistles and some Ford exclusives, including a next-generation "SecuriCode" keypad that unlocks the driver's door, a capless fuel filler system and the SYNC hands-free entertainment and communications system. Also standard are premium AM/FM/six-CD changer 6-speaker audio with SIRIUS Satellite Radio; premium leather seating; leather-wrapped shifter; 12-way power, heated and cooled driver and front passenger seats with power lumbar; heated rear seats with pass-through; power tilt/telescope steering wheel with memory; dual-zone automatic climate control and reverse sensing. Also standard are adaptive headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, forward sensing system, rear-window power sunshade and "Intelligent Access" key fob with push-button start. Standard safety features include AdvanceTrac stability control; anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist; Dual-stage front, front side and roof Canopy System airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
Most notable among the MKS' many available features are all-wheel drive; 19-inch bright machined or 20-inch polished aluminum wheels; THXII Certified 14-speaker premium surround sound; voice-activated navigation; rear-view camera; adaptive cruise control; dual-panel power moonroof, Active Park Assist and "PowerCode" remote starting. Most of these features are bundled into two Rapid Spec option packages, one with the Navigation Package (navigation, surround sound and rear-view camera) and one that combines the Navigation package with the dual panel moonroof, 19-inch wheels and color-keyed suede seat trim. Also available is the EcoBoost Appearance package that adds unique leather seating and appliques, body colored grille, fog lamp openings and rocker panels and 20-inch chrome wheels.Under the Hood
The 2011 MKS offers a choice of two V6 powerplants. The first is a normally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 that develops 273 horses and 270 pound-feet of torque. Based on Ford's award-winning 3.5-liter V6, it shares the same die-cast aluminum block, lightweight four-valve heads and variable valve timing. To save fuel, its fuel pump shifts to a lower-speed setting when conditions allow and cuts off fuel to the injectors when the driver backs completely out of the throttle in fifth or sixth gear. The second option is a 3.5-liter V6 with two turbochargers bolted on for a big jump in horsepower and torque, but very little sacrifice in fuel economy. Both engines are teamed to the standard SelectShift six-speed automatic that can be manually shifted when desired. The available all-wheel-drive, which can distribute up to 100 percent of torque between the front and rear wheels, is offered only with the normally aspirated V6.
273 horsepower @ 6250 rpm
270 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 (FWD), 16/23 (AWD)
3.5-liter V6 turbocharged
355 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
350 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25
The base 2011 Lincoln MKS with front-wheel drive has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $42,000. All-wheel drive pushes the price closer to $44,000, while the MKS with the twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 starts close to $49,000. At these price levels the MKS occupies a unique niche among its logical competitors. It's less expensive than the front-drive V8 Cadillac DTS, but much pricier than V6 Buick Lucerne. Many of the MKS' natural competitors are smaller and pricier, including the Lexus GS 350, Acura RL, BMW 528i, Infiniti M37 and Cadillac STS (all of which in the mid-$40,000 range). Its only near rivals with a lower MSRP are the smaller, rear-drive Cadillac CTS and the V8-powered Hyundai Genesis. In short, the 2011 Lincoln MKS is a lot of car for the money and even carries a projected five-year residual value on par with most of the above rivals, and substantially higher than some. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com to see what buyers are actually paying in your area.