- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

What I admire most on American car styling is the contemporary respect for and tasteful application of chrome. A steady diet from 1950-era cars of you-can-never-have-too-much-chrome spoiled the appetite for using the bright stuff on subsequent models. But this piece of jeweled, shiny styling is truly Americana and has a very real, emotional connection for American car buyers. Lincoln uses this native genetic predisposition to chrome with an evolved intelligence in its 2009 MKS.

The front grille features the painted look of chrome with a cascading waterfall design that is a signature Lincoln look. Chrome accents trim the side windows, and chrome side body portholes feature the Lincoln star crest. Lincoln designers drew on the discreet, understated heritage of the brand when designing this flagship sedan for the modern owner. The 1941 Continental served as inspiration for the front-end design.

On the inside, the roomy five-passenger 2009 MKS is well-crafted with supportive leather seats. A line of chrome is used in the instrument panel, and chrome rings circle the cluster gauges. A sporty push-button start on the dash panel is the modern-day ignition on the MKS for turning over the V-6 engine.

Lincoln’s flagship is powered by a derivative of the 3.5-liter “Ward’s 10-Best” award-winning engine - the MKS is equipped with a 3.7-liter V-6. Owners have the choice of not using premium-grade gasoline with this engine; however, performance will drop slightly when not using the higher octane. When using premium fuel the V-6 delivers 275 horsepower and 276 lb.-ft. of torque. Output drops to 273 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque when filling the tank with the lower octane grade.

Engineers used variable valve timing on the engine to reduce emissions, which qualifies the 2009 MKS as a Level II Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle, according to the tough standards set by the California Air Resources Board. The flagship full-size sedan is available in front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive configurations. The AWD model returns an EPA-rated fuel economy of 16 miles per gallon city and 23 mpg highway, while the FWD sedan will give the driver an estimated fuel economy of 17/24 mpg.

The V-6 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift, allowing the driver to seamlessly switch from automatic drive into the manual gearshift mode. Lincoln’s chief engineer for the 2009 MKS said the six-speed automatic has a stiffer torque converter to deliver higher response levels upon acceleration.

The MKS tester, equipped with AWD, had a starting price of $39,555, plus an additional $800 for destination and delivery. For drivers who want the full expression of luxury, the MKS is offered with the “Ultimate Package.” The tester had this $5,715 package, plus the optional $995 Adaptive Cruise Control system.

One of the latest safety technologies on the luxury market segment, ACC self-regulates braking and accelerating without driver intervention once he or she establishes the car’s cruising speed. One of the biggest advantages of ACC is its advanced accident-prevention ability to keep safe distances on the road even through fog or heavy rain. The ACC employs a radar-based system that monitors vehicles ahead up to 600 feet.

Of course, the flagship Lincoln is loaded with safety features, including electronic stability control, head curtain airbags, plus front and side-impact airbags.

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