2011 Lincoln MKS Review

Rear 3/4 from above of silver 2011 Lincoln MKS sedan on winding road
The 2011 Lincoln MKS.

Stock shots from car manufacturers are usually well lit, nicely shot and extremely flattering. At a minimum, they're in focus. Rarely do they tell a story. But the one above does. This year, after two seasons running behind the big dog Lincoln Town Car, the Lincoln MKS has a new role. It's the company's flagship. The road ahead is wide open. It's up to the MKS to conquer the drivers along the way. And having recently done a farewell review for the Town Car, I thought it was time to re-visit the MKS, so we borrowed one from Fiesta Lincoln in Mesa, Arizona.

As I wrote three years ago, I initally underestimated the MKS when I saw it on a stand at a 2007 auto show. And then I drove it.

Instrument panel of 2011 Lincoln MKS
The 2011 Lincoln MKS instrument panel.

Lincoln got the MKS very, very right. There's an elegance to the cockpit that impresses at first encounter and then slowly reveals deeper and deeper layers as you spend more time at the wheel.

And unlike other manufacturers, Lincoln has found a way to make technology a big part of the car's appeal without it being overbearing. SYNC is a brilliant interface for phone and portable music. Getting a Bluetooth connection on the first try is a given (it isn't with a lot of cars I drive)...ten seconds and done. And from that point on, it can all be handled by voice command. It's tech doing what tech should be doing....reducing driver distraction, not adding to it.

The standard THX audio system is terrific. The step up to 5.1 surround (600 watts and 16 speakers) is well worth the price of admission. 

Regular readers know I'm not a huge fan of factory in-dash nav systems. The MKS gives you a choice. There's a voice-activated navigation system with traffic, directions and information standard...and there's also an optional full satellite navigation system with an 8-inch full-color touch screen. It's the best I've seen so far, and it's bundled with Sirius satellite radio, Sirius traffic (showing current conditions on the nav map), and Sirius Travel Link with an introductory six-month subscription. Up-to-the-second weather, gas prices and gas station location, live sports scores, movie times and theatre locations are part of Travel Link.  I'd be renewing early.

Front 3/4 view of off-white 2011 Lincoln MKS
Front view of the 2011 Lincoln MKS.

And then there's the tech that's involved in the actual driving. The MKS ranks with the Volvo S60 T6 as one of only two cars so far that I've driven where I actually trust the adaptive cruise control to maintain a safe following distance when there's a car in front of me and not throw up a false alarm and throw on the brakes when there's not.

Interior shot of 2011 Lincoln MKS with cream leather interior and sunroof

And while you're enjoying seat time behind the wheel, your passengers will be happy, too...luxurious accomodations include a sunroof up front and a fixed-glass moonroof (both with powered shades) in the rear.

Starting price is $41,500. Our tester from Fiesta (we're now thisclose to rejected lyrics for Steve Miller's "Take The Money and Run") added Rapid Spec package 102A. That's the voice-activated nav system, the THX 5.1 surround sound system, a rear view camera, dual panel moonroof and wood door trim package ($4,500). It also had the adaptive cruise control mentioned above and paired with a collision warning system ($1,295) and beautiful White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat paint ($595).

Bottom line, with $875 for destination and delivery: $48,765. That's less than $500 above the Town Car we tested last week. You trade room for six for room for five, you pick up one mile per gallon in the  EPA city mileage estimate and stay flat on the highway (17 city and 24 highway, which is very strong for a luxury sedan), and a world of current and cutting-edge technology simply not available on the Town Car opens up to you, both in standard equipment and on the option list.

The Town Car was deservedly a hero of the limousine and executive sedan fleet owners. The MKS isn't meant to replace it there (though I'd be interested in seeing a mild stretch of the MKS...an MKS-L...with five or six more inches of wheelbase). But as fond as we are of the Town Car, as a top-of-the-line Lincoln that you drive yourself, the MKS represents a massive leap forward, and Lincoln has been all too quiet about its virtues.