2010 Lincoln MKS Test Drive Review
|Topics: Lincoln MKS
Wayne Scraba, autoMedia.com
30 November 2009
Modes of transportation built for conditions in North America really have no need for high RPM-fussy engines. Certainly in congested Europe or perhaps specific places in Asia where roadways between urban centers are short, crowded and in many cases prove narrow and twisty, a buzzy engine coupled to a multi-speed gearbox can be considered "fun" or at the very least, somewhat useful. But think of the typical North American thoroughfare (or even a typical backroad). The spaces here are wide open. And, for the most part, so are the roads.
The big news brings us to the big debate: horesepower versus torque. Torque is what you feel when you kick down an automatic transmission and it pins you to the seatback. Torque is what allows an engine to run relatively low RPMs down the road, but still prove to be totally useful when you need to effortlessly pull out and pass someone or something. The truth is, horsepower is the result of mathematics and engine speed. Torque is what gets the job done. But there's more: If you have an engine that produces copious quantities of torque in a low RPM range, that same engine can be tuned to be very efficient. Now, it's no secret you can build torque in a large number of ways. The old way was to build big displacement, long stroke engines. North American luxury cars relied upon that game plan for decades. But big capacity isn't always the most energy efficient and, generally speaking, they tend to be more difficult to harness from an ecological perspective. Another way to achieve the same torque results, but simultaneously improving the fuel economy is by way of turbocharging.
And that's exactly the path Lincoln chose for their new optional 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 for their 2010 Lincoln MKS flagship. As Lincoln points out, "With the fuel economy of a V-6, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine delivers an impressive 355 horsepower and a responsive 350 lb.-ft. of torque across a broad rpm range. That gives the Lincoln MKS the power of a normally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8. It also means a Lincoln MKS can deliver more performance and provide better fuel economy than many of its Asian or European competitors, even some competitors' V-8s. In order to arrive at this performance level, Lincoln engineers chose to incorporate water cooled, twin parallel turbochargers. They operate simultaneously and work in tandem with a gasoline direct-injection fuel delivery system to produce power instantly when you mash the gas pedal. The result is lag-less performance from the twin-turbo'd engine. Another big benefit is the gasoline direct fuel injection system where fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber by way of high pressure (2,175 PSI, according to Lincoln engineers). Effectively, six individual jets spray fuel directly into the chamber. There is no delay from the time the fuel is injected to the time when it is used by the engine.
Equally important is the fact that the incoming air charge (compressed by the twin turbos) is effectively cooled by the directly injected fuel. Two important side benefits include improved fuel burn and lower emissions. In terms of measurable numbers, the MKS with EcoBoost produces its peak power (355 hp) at a comparatively low 5700 rpm but, most important, the little V-6 produces maximum torque (350 foot-pounds) at a very low 3500 rpm. Equally significant, the torque curve is flat. That means useful power is available (in a big way) almost anywhere you need it. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mileage numbers for the 2010 Lincoln MKS are: 17/24 city/highway for MKS FWD; 16/23 for MKS AWD, and 17/25 city/highway miles per gallon for the 2010 MKS AWD with Ecoboost. As you might have guessed, the prodigious performance offered by the EcoBoost engine grabbed most of our attention (it's that good). Yet the truth is, the rest of the top-line Lincoln is no slouch either. In order to get the big torque to the ground, the Lincoln incorporates a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle shift activation backed by an all-wheel-drive system. Lincoln engineers went through the automatic so that it was up to the task of backing the stout twin turbo'd V-6.
Upgrades include reworked gears, more robust friction materials and a new torque converter. Simultaneously, the final drive ratio was reduced to a 2.77:1. That reduced the engine speed under almost all conditions. Nineteen-inch wheels are standard with the MKS EcoBoost engine package and so is an expanded level of standard equpment that includes Intelligent Access with Push Button Start, ambient lighting, adaptive HID headlamps with Auto High-beam, rain-sensing wipers and rear-window power sunshade. Crack open the driver's door and you'll be met with a new three-pod instrument cluster. The steering wheel includes ergonomic grips at the 10:00 and 2:00 O'clock positions, situated perfectly to use the integrated paddle shifters. Seats are firm and, as expected, full-functioned. Lincoln phased out the suede seat material late in 2009. Our test car came equipped with discerning chocolate and graphite leather trimmed seats. Like the outside of the MKS, there's plenty of well placed chrome trim to remind you this is, after all, a Lincoln. One thing we can't forget is the wide suite of available technology in the MKS series. For example, the Navigation Package provides voice-activated DVD Navigation with THX II 5.1 surround sound, DVD/CD/MP3 player, includes 10GB music jukebox and SIRIUS Travel Link. The popular SYNC information system returns (it includes the capability to voice-activate most phones and media players). Newly added to SYNC, integrated real time traffic reports, turn by turn directions, sports scores and other useful information. (SYNC Traffic, Directions and Information, however, is not available on vehicles equipped with the optional factory-installed navigation systems.)
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|