During his fictitious stint as leader of the Empire, Darth Vader became an adversary to a little more than just one Jedi. Despite the turmoil he created, he was a timelessly stylistic man who exuded class and mystery. Tall and Dark, Darth Vader is the type of enigma who walks into a town, does things and then leaves all while every person in the area finds it impossible not to talk about him. The definitive and classic ambience that he created has spawned a tag inside American pop culture that defines things that are just plain ‘cool’. If something can pass as being approved by the Sith lord himself, it is instantly iconic and forever aloof. Worthy enough as a personal transport for Darth Vader is the 2011 Lincoln MKS.

In 2008, Ford began its entry into its new life with new models and a new direction but didn’t leave its subsidiaries behind. Upgrading right along side the blue oval was its luxury division, Lincoln. Working to supplement the still alive Town Car, Ford took its large Taurus sedan and drapped it new-age Lincoln clothes creating the MKS. Full size to the core, this front wheel drive with all wheel drive optional layout shares similar underpinnings with the MKT and Ford Flex SUVs. The same independent suspension with front struts and a rear multi-link that is found on the Taurus is underneath the MKS. The wheelbase is still 112.9 inches and the engine, transmission and drivetrain options are duplicated between the two cars. The similarities are massive but the MKS has something the Taurus can’t really obtain: timeless class.

That timeless class comes by way of its aesthetics. Wrapped in its “Tuxedo Black Metallic” suit, the MKS looks cool at any angle. The profile is long and low, flowing just right to the sharp rear end. Unlike the Taurus, the Lincoln doesn’t look too bulging or bulbous. Instead of just ending, the rear of the MKS looks honed and complete. When the car turns around and you’re faced with its face, shock almost hits as the front is its most striking feature. The bumpers, fenders and foglamps are all chiseled nicely while the narrow smoked head lights mesh just right with the signature gun-shot grille. Overall, the MKS looks much more athletic than its Ford sister, making it a suitable candidate for Darth Vader’s transport.

For our time spend with an MKS, we did so in a 2011 EcoBoost. For $48,160, features were included such as adaptive HID headlamps, Sirius satellite radio, heated and cooled power front seats, dual-zone climate control with heated rear seats as well as Ford’s Sync voice activated vehicle control system. Added to our tester was the $3,500 Rapid Spec package that included navigation, premium audio, rear backup camera and a dual panel moonroof. Also added was the $2,995 Appearance Package that added the stylish 20 inch wheels, $535 Active Park Assist and $1,295 Adaptive Cruise Control. Total MSRP with destination charge: $56,485.

For that money, a MKS buyer gets the powerplant straight from the high performance Taurus SHO. This “Super High Output” 3.5 liter twin turbocharged direct injected DOHC EcoBoost V6 produces a stout 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Matched to the EcoBoost is Ford’s six speed automatic and all wheel drive system with numerous electronic traction control aids. Acceleration is strong as 60 mph comes from a standstill in just a hair over 6 seconds. Even though its strangely quiet, most drivers of an EcoBoost equipped MKS might suspect a larger V8 to be found under the hood. The torque produced by the turbo V6 is “right-now”, never making onramp trips a chore. It maybe pricey, but the EcoBoost option is a must for any MKS as it suits the car’s massive size and weight much better than the base, 3.7 liter naturally aspirated V6.

Driving around in one of Darth Vader’s personal vehicles is a real treat. The interior of the MKS is easily one of the best to come out of the Big Three in years. Unlike older Fords and Lincolns, the inside bits and pieces do not feel cheaply plastic but instead, well made. The leather wrapped steering wheel is placed just right as well as the main vehicle control buttons and switches. The center console is rather large though and every so often, a feeling of being “sunk in” was felt. It would appear that this is the way American automakers might be going as a big luxury car needs to be big. No complaints were had about Ford’s Sync system as every little detail about its control became so intuitive they went unnoticed.

The MKS has some seriously tough competition. Judging on its size and features, it is placed right with the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6, Chrysler 300 and Hyundai Genesis Sedan. Compared to its German rivals, its mid to low $50,000 asking price is reasonable considering all the technologic goodies that come with. $56 grand won’t get you the V8 5 series and might not even get you an E-Class but it will however buy a 300C Hemi or a Genesis Sedan 5.0 with some change to spare. And both of those cars are faster, more nimble with their rear wheel drive setups, and carry the same amount of technology found in the MKS. The Lincoln may look fantastic, drive great and cruise in very easy comfort, but the asking price for our tester might be just a bit too much. Ford would sell plenty more MKS EcoBoosts if the price was dropped just a hair.

Ford has done an excellent job of keeping Lincoln above water. Vehicles such as the MKT and MKS have the ability to drop jaws everywhere they go simply because no one would expect to see a Lincoln emblem on such cool-looking cars. Where ever our MKS tester went, heads were turned and people were utterly shocked to find out what it was. In EcoBoost trim, it isn’t a slouch as smiles can be developed the closer a driver’s right foot gets to the firewall. Compared to the German competition, the American cruiser is a real value but it still can’t quite compete price wise with some other rivals. Despite that, the 2011 Lincoln MKS is still one of the best large luxury sedans on the market today. Not to mention it is simply cool: cool enough for Darth Vader.

Photos: © Copyright 2011 Ossamah Shabbir

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