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As an auto journalist, my butt hits a lot of car seats over the course of a year. On each occasion, I make a conscious effort to absorb the experience as if I were new to the car, in the same way that prospective buyers might be.
In doing so, I seek first impressions that I believe to be representative of the demographic the vehicle is targeted at. After all, one can't fairly judge a Honda by applying a Jaguar frame of reference.
With caveat declared, this week's Lincoln MKS delivers impressions aplenty.
The MKS's cabin for 2013 is a much classier piece of real estate, now laden with tightly assembled materials of quality and design, such to convey an ambience of subdued yet technologically advanced luxury.
The revised instrument panel and centre-stack features Ford's sophisticated MyLincoln Touch technology combined with their SYNC connectivity. Together, they eliminate last year's conventional switchgear in favour of touch-screen functions and capacitive controls that react with the simple touch or swipe of a finger.
While MyLincoln Touch may incite mild hysteria in techno-Luddites, it's engaging technology nonetheless. With a little time and effort, those of us who don't normally fixate on small screens to administer life's daily minutiae can easily adapt to Lincoln's new world.
On the other hand, technology-seekers will probably inhale the system like life-giving oxygen and use it to its "out there" potential. For the faint of tech, avoiding the whole MyLincoln Touch experience can pretty well be accomplished with the use of the on-board voice-activated SYNC system, which recognizes 10,000 or so spoken commands to allow drivers to orally control the vast majority of vehicle settings and functions.
It's too bad that SYNC had such difficulty understanding my pronunciation of "Vancouver," a town I've lived in all my life. It asked me to spell the word before finally understanding that I was referring to Canada's third-largest city. Still, with thousands of recognized commands, it puts some university grads to shame linguistically.
As impressive -- or frustrating -- as the spoken technology is, the MKS offers much more to place it at the leading-edge of modernity, such as Wi-Fi Hotspot capability, Lane-Keeping System, Blind Spot Information System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Ford's MyKey programming, and an audible/visual collision warning system that occasionally issues heart-halting false alarms.
The MKS cabin becomes a concert hall with heated/cooled massaging seats when the optional, premium audio/infotainment setup with 16-speakers and THX II audio sound is added to the profusion of in-cabin technology. A background of pin-drop silence allows the music to dominate centre stage without specious contamination.
My tester was equipped with the optional engine, Ford's highly acclaimed 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6. Plunge the throttle and this turbocharged mill will deliver an indelible impression all its own -- such performance is a highlight of the EcoBoost-equipped MKS, and a definite take-away for me.
Thanks to its EcoBoost wizardry, the engine delivers early in its broad powerband, allocating no less than 365 horsepower among the MKS's four wheels, along with dispatching 350 lb-ft of torque at just 1,500 rpm.
Automotive engineers have been tormented for decades over the enigma of ride-versus-handling, especially in luxury vehicles. The development of active suspension damping has greatly expanded capabilities at both ends of the ride continuum.
For 2013, the MKS benefits from the gain. Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) is now standard fare on Lincoln's flag-ship. The setup monitors and adjusts suspension settings up to 500 times per second in a sincere effort to match optimal damping to immediate needs.
There's no doubt that the Lincoln MKS is a much better vehicle for 2013, both in terms of cabin design and suspension technology, though MyLincoln Touch may still challenge some users despite the revisions it has undergone to simplify usage.
Overall, I looked forward to slamming the office door and barricading myself in the Lincoln's hushed cabin. With butt plunked upon leather-lined seats, daily commutes became an exercise in pleasure rather than pain.
-- Postmedia News
Power: 305 hp and lb-ft of torque (3.7L V6); 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque (3.5L EcoBoost V6)
Fuel consumption (L/100km): 3.7-litre 11.6 city 7.5 hwy (3.7L); 12.2 city 7.8 hwy (3.5L EcoBoost)
Base Price: $44,184 - $51,424