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2010 Lincoln MKS and MKZ

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Lincoln MKS and MKZ Review: What is a Lincoln? Henry Leland, who had worked closely with Ford very early on, and later founded Cadillac, founded the brand, named for the 16th president, in 1917. Lincoln originally built luxury vehicles, but ran into financial trouble, and Ford acquired them in 1922.

The first Continental, developed by Henry Fordís son, Edsel, was a sensation when it arrived in 1939. After World War II, new Lincolns were stylish big brothers to the Ford and Mercury offerings. In the mid 1950s the revived Continental II was stylish, but sold poorly. Perhaps the most memorable Lincoln of the last 50 years is the 1961 limousine that President Kennedy was assassinated in on November 22, 1963.

Over the years Lincoln has offered a succession of large, comfortable, luxurious sedans, the personal luxury Mark series, and has had recent success with the Navigator SUV. They have experimented with other vehicles, from the midsize 1970ís Versailles to the mysterious Mark LT pickup truck. And through it all, the full-size rear-wheel-drive Town Car has satisfied livery providers year after year.

Today, Lincolnís future is riding on two new sedans, the MKS and MKZ. The full-size MKS is slated to be Lincolnís flagship model, while the midsize MKZ offers much of the upscale content in a smaller, less expensive format. I tested the cars back-to-back recently and they are both quite impressive.

The MKS shares its underpinnings with the new Ford Taurus while the MKZ rides on the smaller Ford Fusion platform. This is not a bad thing, and there are many ways to tell youíre not in a Ford, from the look, to the accommodations, to the presence of lots of Lincoln badging.

The MKS stretches 204.1 inches on a 112.9-inch wheelbase. Thatís full-size today. Compare that to the 1961 Continental, which, at 212.4 inches long on a 123-inch wheelbase, was actually shortened by nearly two feet from the humongous 1960 model.

While the MKS weighs 4,276 pounds, the old car was just a little under 5,000. The MKS feels plenty big, but with that extra ten inches of wheelbase, the Ď61 enjoyed tremendous limo-quality rear legroom.

If you want a more compact package, the MKZ stretches 189.8 inches on a 107.4-inch wheelbase. This is todayís midsize car, around or slightly larger than an Audi A4 or a BMW 3 Series.

What upgrades a Ford into a Lincoln? The comfortable seats in both of my cars were leather-covered and Lincoln logo embossed, with 12-way adjustment in the MKS and 10-way in the MKZ. They offer heating and cooling too. Also, I like the chrome, nicely rendered, in a Mercedes-Benz kinda way. Especially in the larger, fancier MKS, the chrome glistens everywhere.

On the outside, both cars feature Lincolnís new tall, winged grille that borrows from the classic í39. Overall, the cars feel pleasant and modern, with a little nod to Lexus.

Under the hood of my Tuxedo Black MKS was Fordís new 3.5-liter Ecoboost engine, which generates V8 power with V6 fuel economy. With 355 horsepower on tap, it certainly hits it mark on the power. EPA numbers are 17 City, 25 Highway, and I averaged 19.0 mpg.

The smaller, 480-pound lighter MKZ, also in Tuxedo Black, featured the veteran 3.5-liter Duratec V6, and with 263 horsepower, was rated at 17 City, 24 Highway. I averaged 19.5 mpg with it. So, the V8 vs V6 case is made.

The MKS came with the Active Park Assist system. You simply press a little button on the center console and then drive slowly along the street. When the car senses a large enough space it asks you to stop and engage reverse. Then, you let go of the wheel, and pressing the gas yourself, the car backs into the spot, virtually perfectly every time, ending up one or two inches from the curb. It feels strange to press the gas with your hands off the wheel, but it works great.

The MKS also had adaptive cruise control, which follows the car in front at a set distance, braking and accelerating to keep up. Also, with the Collision Warning system, if you are closing in quickly on the car ahead, a red strip of light flashes on your dash top. Both of my test Lincolns had all-wheel drive, something prominently featured in Audis. Itís a differentiator, certainly, and welcome here.

The MKS starts at $47,760 and mine ended up with an MSRP price of  $53,930 with a few options, including a cool dual-panel moonroof and a navigation system. The MKZ starts at $36,005; mine topped out at $43,245.  Those are both very competitive prices.

Will enough buyers accustomed to buying European and Japanese luxury brands consider a Lincoln? The content and appearance are approaching world class, and the alphanumeric new names sound like those of European cars. Time, and advertising, will tell.

By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Lincoln MKS and MKZ Reviews provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net.  ďTony the Car GuyĒ is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at www.autowire.net - And remember: ď You Are What You Drive Ē

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Column Name: Lincolnís future is riding on two new sedans

Topic: The 2010 Lincoln MKS and MKZ

Word Count: 931

Photo Caption:  The 2010 Lincoln MKS and MKZ

Photo Credits: Lincoln Internet Media

Series #:  2010 - 21

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