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2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost Road Test and Review

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
July 17, 2012
8 min. Reading Time

For quite a long time now Lincoln has been a brand without a clear identity, an automaker wandering the premium wilderness without any clear sense of what, exactly, a Lincoln actually was.  A Ford with a higher quotient of technology?  A stepping stone to a more upscale marque such as Mercedes-Benz?  Or merely the nicest car you can rent at the airport?

The redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost is a vehicle that is meant to define what buyers can start to expect more of from this storied marque.  Everything about the MKS EcoBoost - from its looks, to its ride, to its features, and overall execution - speaks to a future where Lincoln has found a path that will not only bring it more sales, but also increased respect in the premium segment.


2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost: Competition

The 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost is a full-size flagship sedan, and in the luxury world that puts it on dangerous ground due to the bevy of excellent options for those seeking a top-of-the-line ride.  From a pricing perspective, however, the Lincoln MKS EcoBoost is something of a bargain, which means that instead of taking on automobiles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class it is more likely to be cross-shopped against the Hyundai Genesis, the Chrysler 300C, the Acura RL, the recently-departed-yet-still-available Cadillac STS, and even the Ford Taurus SHO with which it shares its underpinnings.  The MKS EcoBoost is also definitely going to pull in more than a few buyers reeling from sticker shock after visiting a few German showrooms in search of a full-size luxo-mobile.



2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost: Pricing and Trim Levels

The 2013 Lincoln MKS offers three distinct trim levels, which are in turn differentiated by their drivetrains.  The based FWD edition of the car starts at an MSRP of $42,810, while upgrade to AWD (all-wheel drive) ups the price to $44,805.  Selecting the top-tier EcoBoost trim level requires an outlay of $49,800.

Our 2012 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost test vehicle was heavily optioned and came with every possible feature that could be crammed inside its spacious confines.  The total MSRP for the vehicle we drove for a week, after adding everything up, was $56,265.



2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost: Exterior

The 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost's restyling effort solves a major problem that had afflicted the sedan since it was first introduced: until now, it just didn’t look like a luxury car.  Lincoln elected to maintain the toothy grille that has become the brand's trademark, and love it or hate it, it has been massaged to curve up and into the MKS' headlights in a much cleaner implementation than was found on the previous model of the car.  The hood is also more muscular thanks in part to three distinct creases that help add character to the sheet metal, and when moving one's gaze along the side of the car the improved flow of the sedan becomes apparent.  It certainly helps that our test vehicle had been dipped in a striking metallic brown, a color that appeared almost black in direct sunlight but which sparkled with a mahogany richness in the evening hours.  The Lincoln is equally attractive from behind, losing some of the awkwardness of the abruptly-angled rear deck that afflicts its Taurus SHO platform-mate and gaining nicely-detailed taillights and an elegantly trunk lid.

The MKS is the first vehicle from Lincoln in quite a while that had us turning our heads while walking away in order to take in just a bit more of its beauty before heading inside for the evening.  The MKS also has swagger, an important characteristic in the premium segment, and a quality that has long been missing from most members of the Lincoln lineup save for perhaps the Navigator SUV.  Perhaps the best compliment that can be paid to the full-size MKS is that it would be very difficult to mistake it for its Ford counterpart, something we were not able to say about the 2012 version of the sedan. 



2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost: Interior

The 2012 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost's passenger compartment is a fine example of what can be achieved in a relatively affordable, large luxury car if careful attention is paid to detail.  While the overall dimensions and layout of the MKS EcoBoost are identical to those of the Ford Taurus - a vehicle with which it also shares its MyLincoln Touch gauges and SYNC interface - the choice of materials and finish are clearly a cut above.  Every single surface that the driver or passengers might come into contact with inside the MKS has been swathed in either leather or very soft plastic, which immediately raises the perceived comfort level of the sedan. 

The vehicle's seats - upholstered in a rich brown leather - are heated (front and rear), ventilated, and came with a massage function for the driver and forward passenger.  The latter feature is split into seat and seatback components, and while some found it harsh others enjoyed the kneading action that helped to soothe tired legs during longer trips.  Rear-seat passengers enjoy copious amounts of legroom, and although sitting three across the back bench is easily achievable the center bump provides a less-than-ideal ride when sat on for more than a few miles.  Trunk space, as with previous versions of the MKS, is cavernous.

The Lincoln MKS EcoBoost's center stack also differs from the Taurus in that it provides more buttons with which to interact with the climate control and entertainment system.  We liked the addition of chrome horizontal dividers breaking up each section, although we did have difficulty getting the touch-sensitive volume slider to function in a predictable manner.  The automated parking system button isn't hidden in the MKS but rather sits at the bottom of the stack next to the lane-keeping system button, and there are several nice compartments inside the center console that can hold cell phones, media players and larger objects, all surrounded by classy wood trim.

The MyLincoln Touch system was less popular with drivers than the rest of the vehicle's comfort features.  MyLincoln Touch replaces traditional gauges with two small LCD screens located on either side of the vehicle's speedometer, and while the concept is excellent - allowing owners to flip through a series of different screens that keep track of information like fuel mileage, settings for the safety systems, navigation commands, entertainment options, and Bluetooth commands - the execution is not quite ready for prime time.  Complaints about the finicky nature of the steering wheel-mounted controls for scrolling through MyLincoln Touch menus and making selections were frequent, as it was not always possible to ensure that the arrow that was pushed would actually elicit the desired response from the screen in front of you.

The center console's large SYNC LCD touchscreen fared better in terms of usability.  A homescreen that was divided into four main sections - Bluetooth phones, navigation, entertainment, and climate control - was easy enough to use, although at times we found ourselves wishing that the tiny sliver of a tab representing each section was larger and easier to push while driving.  We had no problem figuring out how to configure SYNC to work with our phones, and we found most of its menus simple enough to decipher.  The vehicle's voice-recognition feature, however, was more of a hit-or-miss situation.  This was especially true when attempting to speak an address into the navigation system, a trial that found us frequently returning to the touchscreen keypad to directly enter in the necessary details.



2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost: Powertrain and Fuel Economy

The 2013 Lincoln MKS starts out with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine under the hood that is good for 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque.  All-wheel drive is optional with this motor, a six-speed automatic transmission is offered free of charge, and fuel mileage checks in at 18-mpg city and 27-mpg highway. 

The MKS EcoBoost gains a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 that churns out 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque (a slight bump in production that sees the Lincoln matching the Taurus SHO in terms of grunt), as well as standard all-wheel drive and the same six-speed autobox as the base model.  Fuel economy for the very quick EcoBoost shows as 17-mpg city and 25-mpg highway, and its 20-mpg combined EPA rating is exactly what we noted during our time with the sedan.



2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost: Driving Impressions

The 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost manages to combine the insulated ride that traditional buyers of this brand are after with the kind of handling and surprisingly quick acceleration that younger shoppers are looking for in a luxury car.  The MKS EcoBoost is a very big and fairly heavy automobile, and kudos to the engineers at Lincoln for not attempting to transform it into a sports sedan.  Adopting a "performance at all costs" attitude when designing the MKS would have ensured that not only would it have failed to hit benchmarks set by BMW or Infiniti when it comes to cornering, but it also would have lost the supple comfort that it delivers in spades.

The Lincoln MKS EcoBoost is notable for providing a luxury car experience that satisfies in all of the key areas without an over-emphasis upsetting the balance of the car's character.  The MKS EcoBoost is really too large to hustle down a narrow country two-lane at high speeds, but it excels at delivering the kind of power that makes highway cruising exceptionally pleasant.  It also provides a surprising amount of acceleration off the line without breaking a sweat or downshifting from one of its six gears to another too abruptly, which is useful when fighting through inner city traffic.  Paddle shifters are provided with the vehicle's six-speed autobox, and while gear changes came quickly and on command, we preferred to simply shift into Sport mode and let the electronic genies figure things out for us.

Our estimation of the MKS EcoBoost's ability to chew up and spit out highway miles went way up during the trip we took in the car from Montreal down to Loudon, New Hampshire where the sedan served as our weekend chariot, Interstate warrior, and NASCAR and Global Rallycross Championship tailgating companion.  This appreciation for the MKS wasn't only due to its effortless ability to zip past slowpokes in the right lane - we were also impressed by a number of the car's high tech features and how they worked together to improve the overall driving experience.

The version of the Lincoln MKS EcoBoost that we piloted was outfitted with optional adaptive cruise control, a feature which makes use of radar in order to automatically match the speed of traffic on the road ahead if necessary.  The MKS' cruise was easy to turn on and off and it also offered excellent gap control, allowing us to space ourselves safely behind other vehicles depending on road and weather conditions. 

The icing on the cake with the MKS, however, is its lane-keeping system.  When activated, this particular gizmo monitors the painted lines on either side of the sedan and notifies drivers - by way of a steering wheel vibration - when it strays from its assigned lane.  The real fun begins when you add in the available auto-correct option to the lane-keeping system's setup, which actually sees the Lincoln steering itself back into the center of the road should it get too close to the lines. 

Of course it's an amusing parlor trick to take one's hands off of the wheel and allow the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping system to take over the driver's duties for a half-mile or two (hi-jinks that Lincoln warns you to cut out with a stern 'keep your hands on the wheel' message that appears on vehicle's dashboard).  That being said, the real value of lane-keeping has to do with the fact that over the course of many hundreds of miles of continuous driving the gentle tug of the wheel that keeps the big sedan between the lines serves as a welcome assist to the chore of steering in traffic or during more monotonous stretches of a trip.  Once switched off upon entering town, the absence of the system is almost instantly felt in terms of the steering inputs required by the car.

The 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost that we drove also came with the brand's automated parking system, a feature that will take over the steering duties and parallel park the automobile with only brake and throttle inputs from the driver.  The system worked 90 percent of the time we used it, and it was simultaneously scary and awe-inspiring to watch the long sedan place itself an inch-and-a-half from the curb - perfectly - each time the feature was engaged.



2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost: Safety

We've already talked about some of the 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost's safety gear, including the adaptive cruise control system (which comes with a collision warning system) and the lane-keeping feature.  Our test car also featured a drowsiness monitor that kept a watchful eye on the driver's own watchful eye, a blind-spot warning system with cross-traffic detection (useful when reversing the sedan), a rearview camera with an overlay indicating where the vehicle is headed based on the current position of the steering wheel, and of course electronic stability control and traction control.  Forward airbags, side curtain airbags, and seat-mounted side airbags are additionally included with the car.



2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost: Final Thoughts

The 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost presents a new, and more cohesive face for the Lincoln brand.  More importantly, it proves that even when sharing platforms with Ford, Lincoln is finally capable of differentiating itself through more than just the inclusion of a raft of high tech goodies.  The Lincoln MKS EcoBoost drives almost nothing like the Taurus SHO whose engine and all-wheel drive system it shares.  Instead, it provides a fast, comfortable, spacious, and luxury-laden full-size cruiser that doesn't completely give up when faced with a sharp corner, but that also doesn't knock over the Neiman Marcus boxes stacked in the trunk when you power past the apex.



What We Like About The 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost:

  • Excellent, smooth power delivery, copious grip from its all-wheel drive system
  • Well executed interior
  • Easy-to-use safety features such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control
  • Very comfortable ride
  • Beautiful styling
  • Fuel mileage as advertised

We Aren't So Hot On:

  • MyLincoln Touch and its balky interface
  • Voice commands not always reliable when using navigation system


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