Lincoln MKS Review

Do something enough times and people can assume it's true again, even when it's not.

Case in point: Lincoln has spent the last few years taking Fords and dressing them up with Lincoln grilles, badges and logos (Expedition becomes Navigator; Explorer becomes Aviator; F-150 becomes Mark LT; Fusion becomes MKZ, Edge becomes MXK) that when I saw the new MKS on a stand at the Auto Show in November 2007, I assumed that it was a gussied-up Taurus.

I was wrong.

Sure, the MKS and Taurus are built of the same platform (shared with the Volvo S80), but Lincoln has shaken off the doldrums and built its own car here...and one that actually deserves the Lincoln nameplate.

Start with the leather, top-quality stuff sourced from the same company that provided hides to Lincoln 50 years ago. Move on to fit and finish...well above anything we've seen from Dearborn in a long, long time. The interior designers have crafted a distinctly Lincoln instrument panel, making the common item from the Ford parts bin look less, rather than more conspicuous.

The MKS was also my first experience with Ford's new SYNC system featuring live weather radar, up-to-the-minute sports scores and movie listings (I wouldn't have blamed them for making it a Lincoln exclusive for a year, but it's also available in the Ford Flex and the Escape Hybrid).

On the road? More than adequate power, and far better handling than any Lincoln I can remember.

The distinctive grille, meant to evoke memories of the late 30s-early 40s Continentals, is actually pointing the way to Lincoln's future. Let's hope the MKS is indicative of what Lincoln not only can but will do with future models.

UPDATE: Recently had a week in a second MKS, this one with "premium" rather than "ultimate" leather, and missing the dual-panel moonroof. Everything I wrote above still stands. But as a full production model, this one came with price and EPA estimates.

Base price: $37,665.

Options: $1,115 for the Technology Package (rain sensing interval wipers, adaptive headlamps with auto high beam, forward sensing system and Intelligent Access push button steering wheel).

$2,995 for the Navigation Package (voice activated nav system, rear-view camera, THX-II certified audio system with 5.1 surround sound).

$510 for 19 inch bright machine cast aluminum wheels.

Bottom line (including $800 delivery charge): $43,085. Pretty much in line with Cadillac CTS.

EPA estimates: 17 city/24 highway.

Crash ratings still pending at time of shipment.