The Lincoln MKZ is a mid-size four-door sedan that is host to near-luxury options. It has gone through three new generations in only seven years, with the most recent—and very dramatic—redesign for the 2013 model year. Although it uses some of the same underpinnings as the Ford Fusion, the MKZ is better finished than its sister models and it takes advantage of Lincoln’s most...
The Lincoln MKZ is a mid-size four-door sedan that is host to near-luxury options. It has gone through three new generations in only seven years, with the most recent—and very dramatic—redesign for the 2013 model year. Although it uses some of the same underpinnings as the Ford Fusion, the MKZ is better finished than its sister models and it takes advantage of Lincoln’s most recent design language. It competes with the Lexus ES, Buick LaCrosse, Volvo S60, and the Acura TL.
With the MKZ, Lincoln has its first true rival for those entry-level luxury four-doors. It didn't quite start out that way, though. The MKZ was introduced in 2007, after essentially the same vehicle had already appeared for the 2006 model year as the Lincoln Zephyr--which had replaced the rear-drive Lincoln LS sedan in the luxury brand's portfolio.The initial run of Lincoln Zephyr sedans brought a more upscale look to the Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan basics, though not much difference under the skin. The Zephyr shared those cars' 3.0-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission, though it didn't offer a four-cylinder version as did the less expensive kin. While about a third of its sheetmetal was shared with the other cars, the Zephyr's interior was unique and distinct, with a twin-binnacle style that brought back the themes that had distinguished Lincolns of the 1960s.
In the 2007-2009 model years, the same car became the MKZ. Lincoln had begun to adopt alphabetic names for nearly all its products, save for the Town Car and the Navigator. The intent was for the name to be pronounced "Mark Z," but Ford quickly gave up that semantic battle and let the Lincoln names flow like those from Cadillac. Some minor cosmetic tweaks accompanied an upgraded engine, now a 265-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. The MKZ also gained an all-wheel-drive option in 2007.
In the 2010 model year, the MKZ got a much improved interior and improvements to its materials and sound quality. The dandy new interior and subtle changes elsewhere sharpened its luxury focus, but the MKZ still can't match the European sport sedans like the BMW 3-Series and Benz C-Class for crisp driving responses. It's more a luxury touring sedan along the lines of the Lexus ES 350 and Volvo S60 and Buick LaCrosse, though the Buick and Acura TL have become notably edgy. The big back-seat room is an MKZ selling point, and so is the raft of interior goodies like Ford's SYNC entertainment controller and THX surround sound.
In the 2011 model year, the Lincoln MKZ added a Hybrid model to its lineup. Mechanically similar to the 2010 North American Car of the Year, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Lincoln gas-electric sedan posts fuel-economy numbers as high as 41 mpg, and allows electric-only operation up to 47 mph. The new sedan has gauges that help teach efficient driving, too, using flowers as a clean-driving metaphor--and it gets standard SYNC and 10-way power front seats with heating and ventilation.
For the 2013 model year, the MKZ gets a complete model change, adopting a new architecture that still shares running gear with the Ford Fusion, but distances itself even more strongly from that sedan with distinctive styling and features. The new MKZ arrives in mid-2012 with a trio of powertrains that include a base 2.0-liter turbo four with 240 horsepower, offered with front- or all-wheel drive, good for up to 33 miles per gallon highway; a hybrid model that's rated at 45 mpg across the board; and a V-6 with 300 horsepower, front- or all-wheel drive, and gas mileage of up to 26 mpg highway. New features include a pushbutton transmission; updated MyLincoln Touch voice controls; and a retractable glass roof with a single, 15-square-foot panel, the largest in the industry.