On paper, we love the case that the Lincoln MKS makes. 365 horsepower, all-wheel drive, a set of paddles on the steering wheel. It sounds like the makings of a fun luxury-sports sedan. It’s even a rather handsome beast (from certain angles).
That engine is the familiar 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V-6 available all over the Ford range. Paired with those 365 ponies is an impressive 350 pound-feet of torque. It scoots the MKS along in quiet comfort, giving the car a generally effortless feeling of power. Its linear power and torque curves are a pleasant departure from the more dramatic Hemi V-8 found in the Chrysler 300C. Moreover, in general going about, the V-6’s engine note is subdued and unobtrusive, exactly what we like in a luxury sedan.
The ride, unsurprisingly, is not a sporting one. There’s a fair amount of roll, and not a great deal of feedback through the chassis. The upside is that it’s quite comfortable. Bumps are absorbed well, with nary an issue with the secondary ride characteristics. Vertical motion is noticeable, but it’s largely something we’d learn to live with. There are better-suspended cars at this $50,000 price point, both in terms of ride and handling, but the Lincoln manages to balance the two traits in a reasonable manner.
The problem with the Lincoln MKS is this. It is essentially a Ford Taurus SHO. This is a good thing, as we like the SHO a great deal. It’s a big, comfortable, fast, well-equipped sedan, and is a sportier, cooler alternative to the blingtastic Chrysler 300C. As good as the SHO and MKS are, it's their pricing that messes things up. With a starting price of $39,200, the Taurus SHO is $10,600 cheaper than the strikingly similar MKS. That makes the Lincoln a bit superfluous in our eyes.
The case worsens when you look at the content. Most of the things on our MKS can be had on the Taurus SHO, again, for less money. Blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert? Check. Active Park Assist? Check. Heated steering wheel? Check. Multi-contour seats? Check. As equipped with these extra items, the Taurus is still over $9000 cheaper than a comparable MKS. So far as we can tell, the only items the MKS packs that the Taurus doesn’t is the Lane Keeping Assist system, a dual-pane sunroof (as opposed to the single-pane on the SHO), the truly excellent THX II audio system, and some extra wood trim and interior styling tweaks.
Now, to be fair, a case can certainly be made in favor of the MKS over the Taurus SHO. Perhaps you prefer the styling, or you really care about extra wood trim. Maybe you’re the type that still remembers the rigid brand distinctions of yesteryear, and just can’t accept that a Ford could be the equal of a Lincoln. There’s nothing wrong with that. Buy the MKS. If money matters, though, just buy the Taurus.
Hopefully things will change when the Taurus and MKS get a full overhaul in the next few years. With the Ford Fusion and upcoming Lincoln MKZ, the Blue Oval has done an excellent job of differentiating the two vehicles’ interior and exterior styling. The cars may share drivetrains, but the cool little features of the Lincoln (like the vertically stacked transmission buttons) and its arguably more dramatic styling should be enough to set the two cars apart in the minds of buyers and justify the higher asking price. Our only hope is that the next-generation MKS follows a similar path of differentiation. FoMoCo has the mechanicals down for its big sedans, now it just needs to convince buyers that Lincolns are worth their money.