Lincoln has redesigned the MKZ entry-level luxury sedan for the latest model year, giving it sleek new styling along with an impressive powertrain lineup and loads of technology features. Though it uses the same platform as the Ford Fusion, a completely unique look inside and out helps give the MKZ its own upscale identity.
Those in the market for a green luxury four-door should check out the MKZ Hybrid, which is rated at an impressive 45 mpg combined.
While Lincoln has struggled in the recent past to create an appealing and distinct design language for its models, the MKZ is definitely a step in the right direction. The sedan's elegant appearance is highlighted by a gently sloping C-pillar that, in some ways, recalls the Audi A7. An ultra-high decklid peaks with an integrated spoiler before descending into a wide-swept LED tail lamp bar, below which there's a rear diffuser with a quartet of integrated square tail pipes. Up front, the MKZ features a more refined version of Lincoln's signature front fascia and highly-pointed head lamps.
Inside, the new MKZ ditches the awkward retro theme of its predecessor in favor of an understated yet premium-looking and high-tech cabin. In place of a gear lever is a five-button interface dubbed Push Button Shift. A 10.1-inch LCD instrument cluster replaces traditional gauges, while an eight-inch TFT LCD in the center of the dashboard features the latest version of MyLincoln Touch and Sync.
Uniquely, the MKZ can be ordered with an enormous 15.2-square foot glass panel that retracts at the push of a button to reveal a wide and large opening.
On the powertrain front, the latest MKZ is the first Lincoln ever available from the factory with a non-hybrid four-cylinder engine - a 2.0-liter EcoBoost unit that puts out 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The upgrade engine is a 3.7-liter V6 with 300-horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive, while all-wheel-drive is available as an option.
In front-wheel-drive form, the MKZ returns 22/33 city/highway mpg with the turbo four and 19/28 with the 3.7-liter V6. Opt for all-wheel-drive and those figures fall to 22/31 mpg and 18/26 mpg.
Helping the MKZ to ride and handle like a proper luxury car despite its mainstream roots is Lincoln's new three-mode Drive Control technology, which comes standard and custom tailors the MKZ's continuously controlled damping suspension and electric power steering. A Sport mode firms up the ride and tightens the steering, while a Comfort mode does just the opposite. In the middle is a Normal mode for typical driving situations.
Standard and Optional Features
The MKZ is available in four- or six-cylinder form with a choice of four "equipment groups" (that's Lincoln-speak for trim levels).
The entry-level Premier equipment group includes leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, genuine wood trim, adaptive LED headlights, an 11-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start and 18-inch painted aluminum wheels.
The Select equipment group adds a rear view camera, rear park sensors, a wood steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, HD radio, accent lights for the headlights and an electrochromic exterior driver-side mirror.
The Reserve equipment group brings a navigation system with voice recognition, perforated leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a blind spot information system with cross traffic alert, a power-closing trunk and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Finally, the range-topping Preferred equipment group ups the luxury quotient with a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a 14-speaker, 700-watt THX premium audio system, premium floor mats, a 110V powerpoint and the buyer's choice of single panel moonroof or retractable panoramic roof.
An optional technology packing includes Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise control and Park Assist, which can actually automatically parallel park the car - the system steers the car into the spot, while the driver simply controls the gas and brakes.
Notably, many of the features on the higher trim levels can be had as individual options throughout the rest of the MKZ range.
All MKZ models come standard with dual front, front side, front knee and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
As enumerated above, optional safety features include Lane Keeping Assist and blind sport warning with cross traffic alert.
When it comes to entry-level luxury sedans, some are compact and rear-drive, while others are midsize and front-drive. The Lincoln MKZ is the former, and as such it competes against the Lexus ES 350, the Acura TL, the Volvo S60 and the Volkswagen CC.