When approaching the 2013 Lincoln MKS for the first time, you realize how much of presence it has. At 205.6-inches long, it’s nearly 10 inches shorter than the dearly departed, standard wheelbase Town Car, but the MKS still looks substantial . Not only is it 2.6 inches taller than the Town Car, but the height of the hood, trunklid, and beltline are higher than those on most cars and even some small crossovers. When entering the cabin, you step over the threshold rather than down into the seats, which provide a commanding view of the road.
For 2013, Lincoln gave the MKS an all-new front clip featuring a prominent split-wing grille that hints at the mug of the 1941 Continental. While the look is controversial, with some suggesting the large car’s new grille looks like the smile of a baleen whale, the new MKS draws stares from other motorists within the targeted audience. The trunklid and rear fascia have been redesigned for a lower lift-over height to ease cargo loading and unloading.
Our tester was powered by the same 365-hp, 350 lb-ft twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 as the Ford Taurus SHO, which ups horsepower by 10 over the 2012 model. All EcoBoost models feature all-wheel drive, and the Lincoln Drive Control system is standard on every 2013 MKS. In sport mode, the system modifies the big Lincoln’s steering feel, engine response, and transmission shift parameters as well as the suspension tune via its new Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) system. The system also loosens the reins on traction and stability control systems for a more spirited drive.
During a weekend trip to San Diego, the drivetrain performed admirably. Even in normal mode the 365-hp EcoBoost engine provides enough grunt to move the 4512-pound car swiftly around slower-moving traffic. At the test track, the big-body Lincoln sprinted to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and finished the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds at 100.8 mph. Large 13.86-inch front and 13.58-inch rear vented brake rotors brought the MKS to a stop in 120 feet.
With the CCD system set to Sport mode, the MKS feels more confident in corners and freeway interchanges while maintaining a comfortable ride. More than once, the large 20-inch wheel and tire package squealed while going around a corner. In Comfort mode, the MKS seemed to give up some confidence in handling ability, but the ride didn’t seem to improve much. The MKS pulled .84 g around the skidpad and went around the Motor Trend figure eight in 26.1 seconds at a .69 g average. Though the handling isn’t sports car-impressive, it is respectable for a heavy sedan with a 59/41 percent weight split.
In comparison, the MKS EcoBoost is faster than the all-wheel-drive Cadillac XTS4 powered by the 304-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 and the rear-drive Chrysler 300S powered by the 363-hp, 5.7-liter V-8. Those two full-size American sedans reached 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and 5.6 seconds, respectively. The MKS slightly edged out the XTS and 300S around the skidpad, with both competitors managing .83 g. With 429 hp and rear-drive, the Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec out-muscled the MKS EcoBoost to 60 mph with a 4.8 second sprint. Around the skidpad, the Genesis sedan pulled .87 g. All three MKS competitors stopped shorter from 60 mph, with with the XTS and 300S stopping in 116 feet and the 5.0 R-Spec stopping in a sports car-like 109 feet.
With EcoBoost and all-wheel drive, the MKS is EPA-rated at 16/25 mpg city/highway. Over the course of about 260 miles on our trip to San Diego and back, we averaged 19.6 mpg from three-fourths of a tank of fuel. About one-third of the fuel used was in spirited in-town driving. While there’s plenty of room for two front-seat occupants, rear legroom is somewhat compromised for the size of the car, despite its 38.6 inches of legroom made possible by the 112.9-inch wheelbase. The 19.2 cubic-foot trunk swallowed two carry-on suitcases, a gym bag, and a backpack with about three-fourths of the room to spare.