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The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times staff

The Daily Drivers: 2009 Lincoln MKS review

Lincoln is shedding a stuffy image with its new flagship: the 2009 Lincoln MKS sedan. But is the MKS in the same luxury-car league as its competitors? The all-wheel-drive model we tested certainly has most of what it takes — electronic gadgets and sleek styling — to attract a younger generation.

Appearance: The split, waterfall grille gives the car an aggressive look that sets it apart from the competition and recalls some classics from the Ford stable — think of the '49 Mercury. The tradeoff for this sleek styling: a small rear window that compromises visibility.

Performance: A push of a button — there's no key — starts the 3.7-liter V-6, which cranks out 273 horsepower, certainly enough to get the more-than-4,200-pound car moving. But we feel it could use a little boost when merging onto the interstate. Whatever the MKS may lack in initial acceleration, the ride is smooth and the steering responsive. The SelectShift automatic was a bit clunky in the manual shift mode.

Interior: There's a split personality. We love the leather-covered doors and dash, but below the midline, the center console is plain and plasticky. That doesn't match well with the soft, supportive leather seats. Even worse, the console's twin cupholders are different sizes and too close together — so don't think about setting down two lattes at the same time. Still, there are nice details elsewhere: 12-way power front seats and a sliding center armrest, which is great for shorter drivers who have to move the seat forward. The buttons on the center console are small, making it difficult to push the correct one while driving. However, these controls are also available on the navigation system's touch screen. There is ample head- and legroom, but the rain sensor in the center of the windshield is bulky and can be distracting to the front passenger.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture 49, city driver, 6 feet tall, married with a teenager and a middle-schooler.

Styling: As Detroit luxury goes, I'll take it over an angular Caddy. Make my MKS black, please.

Back-up camera: Do you live on a street of joggers and kids? This is one option you'll rely on.

All-wheel-drive: This option kept us sure-footed in the rain.

Lyra Solochek, 43, highway commuter, 5 feet 1, married with a 5-year-old and teenager.

Home theater on wheels: A THX-II surround system delivers crystal-clear sound, whether it's NPR or Green Day. The speed-compensated volume control keeps the sound level perfect.

Exterior lighting: Your path is lit after you exit the car. Great for late-night arrivals.

Dual-panel moonroof: It lets in lots of light, but keeps the broiling sun out with a power shade.

The bottom line: There's a lot to like about this Lincoln, such as its styling and comfort, but we think the MKS needs another model year to refine its promise. We can't wait for the 2010 model with Ford's new EcoBoost twin-turbo engine.

2009 Lincoln MKS

Price: $39,105 base, as tested $45,570

Powertrain: 3.7-liter Duratec V-6 with six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission

Horsepower: 273 at 6,250 rpm

Torque: 270 ft.-lbs. at 4,250 rpm

Curb weight: about 4,300 pounds

in inches:
Wheelbase, 112.9
Length, 204.1
Width, 85.5

Fuel economy:
17 mpg city/24 mpg highway (front-wheel-drive); 16/23 (all-wheel-drive)

Safety features: Post-crash alert system, dual stage front air bags, traction control, rollover sensor, tire pressure monitoring system, electronic stability control.

Options worth considering: Ultimate Package, which includes moonroof, adaptable headlights, THX-II certified audio with 5.1 surround sound, push-button start, 19-inch wheels, rearview camera, more.

Web site:

The Daily Drivers: 2009 Lincoln MKS review 06/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 12, 2009 8:40pm]
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