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Lincoln MKS v.s Cadillac XTS review

Two big, opulent American sedans fall short of expectations

Consumer Reports magazine: January 2013

A face-off between the flagship luxury sedans from Cadillac and Lincoln used to be a center-ring event. Not anymore. With German and Asian automakers continually raising the bar in this category, the new Cadillac XTS and the updated Lincoln MKS are now little more than a sideshow among more inviting and higher-rated models.

Of the two, the XTS is a considerably better car. But its overall road-test score still places it near the bottom of this competitive class and well short of a top-rated Audi and Infiniti. The MKS scores too low for us to recommend and sits in the cellar of our luxury-sedan ratings.

The $57,200 XTS replaces the plush DTS and sporty STS sedans at the top of Cadillac’s lineup. It is wonderfully luxurious, with a very spacious and well-appointed cabin and a roomy trunk. But the car lacks the silky ride you’d expect from a big Caddy, and although it handles well for its size, it doesn’t have the finesse or brawn of the better German and Asian competitors.

The XTS is also hampered by a new high-tech infotainment system called CUE (for Cadillac User Experience). The system is so convoluted and frustrating that it detracts from the XTS’s pampering environment.

At $50,070 for our loaded test car, the MKS costs much less than the XTS and offers plenty of features. But they don’t make up for the car’s basic flaws, including a cramped driving position and limited visibility. Moreover, handling is ungainly, the ride is neither isolating nor adequately composed, and the 3.7-liter  V6 engine is coarse. A recent update added the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system, making the controls confusing, distracting, and frustrating. Buyers would do much better with the roomy, well-appointed, and less expensive Chrysler 300 or Hyundai’s Genesis or Equus.

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