Lincoln’s flagship sedan talk of the town for 2011

Even though my kids call me “old,” my origin only dates back to the Kennedy administration.

But I’m still old enough to remember when American manufacturers dominated the luxury car market.

While times have certainly changed, I get a kick out of showing folks that America’s heritage for producing luxury automobiles is very much alive and well.

Case in point is this week’s test vehicle — the 2011 Lincoln MKS flagship sedan.

If you are in the market for a luxury vehicle and you don’t add Lincoln to the test drive list, well, why you wouldn’t consider the models ranked best in class in nearly every category is beyond me.

The MKS is a world class full-size sedan available in front- and all-wheel drive configurations.

Elegant and refined, it features some of the most advanced technology available on any vehicle, including most of the imports.

As an example, MKS standard and available features include:

• Adaptive cruise control — allows the driver to set and maintain vehicle speed while radar monitors traffic ahead. The system automatically adjusts speed and slows the vehicle to maintain a set distance behind traffic ahead without having to cancel the cruise command.

• Intelligent access with push button start — no need to fumble with keys or a key fob.

• Voice-activated navigation system with HD Radio, Sirius Traffic and Sirius Travel Link — integrates traffic, directions and information with the voice-activated system that can be integrated with a Bluetooth-capable mobile phone to provide hands-free access to personalized traffic reports, news, sports and weather.

• Adaptive headlamps with HID lights — lights swivel with steering wheel to provide greater visibility while turning.

• Auto high beams — automatically shifts to high beams at night when no other traffic is detected.

• Rain-sensing wipers

• Easy Fuel capless fuel filler — no need to fumble with the fuel cap.

• MyKey programmable vehicle key enables parents to restrict certain features when in the hands of a MyKey driver, such as limiting top speed to 80 mph, audio system volume limited to 44 percent of maximum and speed alert chime at 45, 55 or 65 mph.

• Integrated blind spot mirrors

• Rear view backup camera

• Lincoln Sync voice-activated communications and infotainment system

• Active Park Assist — automatically parallel parks MKS.

These are just a few examples; I wish I had room to write about the interior. The seats and interior appointments could be a story in itself. The list of standard safety features is equally as impressive. In fact, I would say segment leading.

On the road, ride and handling is exceptional, just as you would expect — at least for those of us “old” enough to remember the days when a Lincoln was at the top of everyone’s aspirational vehicle list.

For the 2011 model year, MKS buyers have their choice of two powerful, yet fuel-efficient V-6 engines that deliver V-8 performance on the road.

The base engine is the 3.7-liter Duratec V-6 (274 horsepower/270 lbs.-ft. torque) with an EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models, 16/23 respectively for all-wheel drive.

The MKS is also available with the 355 horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6. Generating 350 lbs.-ft. torque, it has and an EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway in an all-wheel drive platform.

I wish I had more room to list all of its features. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just say for those in the market for a full-size luxury sedan, the MKS is an absolute must for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

MODEL:

2011 Lincoln MKS

5-seat luxury sedan 

Front- or all-wheel drive

PRICE RANGE:

$42,000-$56,000

ENGINE:

3.7-L V6 (273 hp/270 torque)

3.5-L twin-turbo EcoBoost

(355 horsepower/350 torque)

TRANSMISSION:

6-speed auto w/SelectShift and paddle shifters

EPA: 17/16/17 mpg city, 24/23/25 mpg highway (3.7 FWD/3.7 AWD/3.5 AWD)

FUEL: Regular unleaded 3.7/premium unleader 3.5

SUSPENSION:  MacPherson strut and rear-facing L-shaped lower control arm with isolated sub-frame (front); independent multi-link coil-over-shocks, stamped steel lower control arms and cast upper control arms (rear).

TRACTION CONTROL:

AdvanceTrac electronic stability control with brake-actuated traction control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 204.1 inches

WHEELBASE: 112.9 inches

WIDTH: 85.5 inches

HEIGHT: 61.6 inches

WEIGHT: 4127-4276 lbs.

TRACK: 64.9/65.1

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 19 gallons

TIRES: 18-, 19- or 18-inch