2010 Lincoln MKS

They’re called “black cars” in the trade.

They’re called “black cars” in the trade. Sometimes Cadillac DTSs. Oftentimes Lincoln Town Cars. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to see a black Town Car that doesn’t have someone in a uniform of some sort behind the wheel. Yes, the big cars are pretty much limited to the limousine business. Having been in many black cars over the years—Town Cars, in particular, and not those that have been stretched to lengths best suited to a music video from the Big ‘80s—it is striking how far vehicle manufacturers have come in terms of interior quality as regards things like fit, finish, textures, and materials. Nowadays, you’re likely to find an entry-level car with better plastic quality than in some of the limos that were built not all that long ago.

You can still buy a Lincoln Town Car. But not many do. In 2008, there were a total of 15,653 sold. Through November 2009, there have been just 9,509 sold, which is off 2008’s sales pace through the same period by 33.4%.

But what’s someone—a nonprofessional someone--who wants a big, luxurious contemporary American car to do? Buy a Lincoln MKS. And that seems to be what lots of someones are doing, because through November, 15,387 of these behemoths have been moved off of dealer lots.

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“Behemoths?” Yes. This is a big car. In fact, while the Town Car may be about a foot longer (215 in. vs. 204 in.), the MKS is wider (with mirrors, 85.5 in. vs. 78.5 in.) and taller (61.6 in. vs. 59 in.) than the Town Car. It feels big. It drives big. It has big room inside. When the 12-way power driver’s seat retracts all the way upon door unlock and opening, I found that I could barely reach the brake pedal so that I could use the pushbutton to start the car—and the pushbutton was at the tip of my index finger. OK. So I’m 5-8, and not NBA material. And that may be an inch shorter than the average U.S. adult male. But when I was in that seat I felt pretty much like I was a kid in the grown-up chair. Big. And what seats they were. To quote from the official Lincoln website, the seats in the car as Driven are: “Seating Trim - Ultimate, Perforated Leather-trimmed seats with color-keyed tuxedo suede stripe on the seatback with embroidered Lincoln Star logo on the front headrests.” Ultimate, indeed. The leather quality is better than that found used for clothing in upscale boutiques.

You’ll note the use of the word “contemporary” up there. The MKS is clearly that, both from the exterior design, which is comparatively fast and raked, to the interior trim, where there are metallic surfaces in place of the old-school wood for the EcoBoost Appearance Package (although olive ash and ebony are available for those who prefer it).

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Americans like stuff. And this car is stuffed full of stuff, inside and out, from the adaptive HID headlamps in the front to the chrome-tipped exhaust pipes in the rear, from the THX II-certified audio to the rear sunshade. And the options abound.

But there are some things that I’m not all that taken with. Like the “integrated blind spot mirror.” For a car that starts north of $40K, it seems that a sensor-based blind-spot detection system ought to be in place rather than a variant on one of those little convex mirrors that you can pick up at an auto parts supply store next to the pine-scented mirror hangers.

And while the cargo volume is a voluminous 18.7-ft3, the trunk opening is designed in such a way that trying to get an oversized package of whatever from Costco into the trunk is not a straightforward proposition.

The EcoBoost option is certainly one to select for the simple reason that it provides 355 hp @ 5,500 rpm while the standard 3.7-liter Duratec V6 provides 273 hp @ 6,250 rpm. With a curb weight of 4,127 lb. for the front-wheel-drive version or 4,276 lb. for all-wheel-drive, you get a sense of why that extra horsepower is needed.

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Selected specs as Driven

Engine: 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost; DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder

Material: Aluminum block and heads

Horespower: 355 @ 5,500 rpm

Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 1,500 to 5250 rpm

Length: 204.1 in.

Wheelbase: 112.9 in.

Width: 75.9 in. (without mirrors)

Height: 61.6 in.

EPA fuel economy: 17 city/25 mpg highway