New & Used Lincoln MKZ: In Depth
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The Lincoln MKZ is a mid-size four-door sedan that has been a part of the luxury brand's lineup since 2006, more or less. A spin-off of the Ford Fusion, its most recent redesign for 2013 has been its most dramatic.
The MKZ is a rival for sedans like the Acura TLX, Lexus ES, Buick LaCrosse, and the Volvo S60.
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 excellent new interior and subtle changes elsewhere sharpened its luxury focus, but the MKZ still couldn't match European sport sedans like the BMW 3-Series and Benz C-Class for crisp driving responses. It still was more a luxury touring sedan along the lines of the Lexus ES 350 and Volvo S60 and Buick LaCrosse. The big back-seat room was an MKZ selling point, and so was 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 posted fuel-economy numbers as high as 41 mpg, and allowed electric-only operation up to 47 mph. The sedan had gauges that helped teach efficient driving, using flowers as a clean-driving metaphor. It also offered standard SYNC and 10-way power front seats with heating and ventilation.
For the 2013 model year, the MKZ received 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 arrived 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 was rated initially 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.
The MKZ has been carried over largely unchanged over its two model years since that major revamp. However, its original 45-mpg EPA ratings have been lowered to 38 mpg combined (38 mpg city, 37 mpg highway). Ford says it found errors in calculations of fuel economy, and in response, issued the ratings change and gave cash payments to MKZ Hybrid buyers for their increased gasoline costs.