When the powers-that-be over here at Jalopnik asked me to test drive a car for you boys, I was pretty excited. Finally, I thought, Jalopnik is learning to respect a woman's automotive point of view. And then Ray told me it was going to be the 2009 Lincoln MKS. Hmm. I'll admit, I have a bias against big cars that dates back to the need to parallel park my mom's minivan for my driving test. On the other hand, it's not like I get to drive a ton of "luxury cars" either, so I figured even if it wasn't to my taste, I could cheat on my Toyota Corolla for one day. Luckily, it was a really, really nice day, although I was sad I didn't get to see the rain-sensing windshield wipers in action, since those have always sounded really cool. Yes, that's right — while I might not have the the automotive knowledge set of the gentlemen of Jalopnik or say, Popular Mechanics, you know my Lincoln MKS review will make up for it with a certain panache you won't find here or there.
The Lincoln MKS is the biggest car I've driven in 6 years, I'll admit. It rides low enough to the road that I'd be concerned about scraping its cute-as-a-penny bottom in more than a few steep driveways, but it does look pretty damn cool — much more so than any Lincoln we've seen since the era that brought us Ben's personal project car hell. In the pre-driving presentation the design guys kept droning on and on and on about their new paint color "tuxedo black," which contains bits of glass to make it sparkle in a different way. But then they told us we'd be driving for two hours before getting to the next presentation, so I was more concerned with running for the bathroom and missed the assembled auto journalists making cute cooing noises when they got outside and saw it in the sun. At least I think they were. It was either "ooooh!" or "eeeeww!" — it's hard to tell from the bathroom stall. But it really does look like they poured glitter in the paint, though, so I felt like maybe it wasn't a total "old person" car.
Then they partnered me up with another to-remain-nameless reporter and we went rock-paper-scissors for who got to drive first and I lost, damn him. He started up the car and admitted he doesn't own one and never drives, so I knew I'd at least have one up on him even if he did go first. But for the moment, I looked at the route of windy back roads and hoped to God the airbags worked as we started off. Since he had to pay so much attention to the road, I got to play with the gadgets — it didn't read my off-brand MP3 player (but I guess if you buy a $46,000 car you'll probably also have an iPod), the jukebox selection was lame and just as I was settling on a musical choice the ass coolers kicked in. The seat blows cold air on your butt, which feels good for about a minute before it feels weird to have cold puffs of air constantly assaulting your ass and thighs.
But, it turns out, even with one of the world's least experienced drivers at the helm, the car handled pretty good, and I only worried about going off the road three or four times, so I looked around some more. They designed the glove compartment so that only one edge shows (which sounds good, but really just makes it easier to manufacture). For as big as it looked on the outside, it wasn't really all that spacious. The dashboard is all stitched leather, the seats were comfy and the moonroof extends into the back seat besides — but while opening it is pretty intuitive, it isn't quite as easy to get it shut. I probably should've read the manual, but I didn't want to be too much of a girl.
It was also a damn quiet ride, which made it hard to hear the engine shifting on the hills and such, but the tachometer said that, even on hills, the RPMs were pretty low. It's also a little strange to be roaming around the Virginia countryside (looking out for cops, even) in a huge car that feels like something a driver would drive you around in if you had a driver, but maybe that's just me.
When we got to switch positions, I realized that my companion was a rather unassertive driver. My concerns about pickup and handling were pretty much assuaged when I had to take a left turn across 4 lanes of highway traffic to head back to D.C. and laid rubber in the parking lot and didn't fishtail in the left lane, though I'm not sure he felt the same way about it.
As a short person, my problem with driving big cars is that I often can't visualize the corners because I can't get up high enough or forward enough without bumping my chest up against the steering wheel. Somehow, despite the size, I was able to get the MKS's seat adjusted to a point where I didn't feel like the air bag would kill me in a collision and I could see enough of what I was driving to take curves at appropriate speeds without worrying if I was over the line, and I never once felt that sliding sensation that the car was about to lose it no matter what the curve was or how fast I stopped. For a car that's bigger than my dining room, that's a pretty impressive accomplishment.
My biggest concern, other than not getting pulled over by the cops when my lead foot got the better of me, was how much gas I was using. On a 20 gallon tank, we went somewhat less than 200 miles on back roads (most of which was not in traffic, thankfully) and used up about half a tank, meaning we'd spent about $40 in gas to just tool around. Do people still buy huge leather-filled cars with backseats they'll never use (and navigation systems that will tell them sports scores, but not while the car is moving) when gas is this expensive? It was a question that I pondered pretty heavily as I sat in traffic in I-66 on the way back into the city to give the car back and retrieve my cuckolded Corolla.