New & Used Lincoln Zephyr: In Depth
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The Lincoln Zephyr, produced only for the 2006 model year, was the car that launched what is now known as the Lincoln MKZ--under the luxury brand's new naming convention that prefixes every model name with "MK". The 2006 Zephyr used the model name of a lower-priced Lincoln model built from 1936 through 1940. The 2006 Zephyr then evolved into the 2007 Lincoln MKZ, with mechanical upgrades that included more power and available all-wheel drive.
Introduced as a mid-size four-door sedan smaller than the rear-wheel-drive LS model, whose last year was 2006, the Zephyr shared not only its underpinnings but much of its sheetmetal with the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan introduced that same year. With identical doors and roof, only the front and rear styling was different, along with a more luxurious interior. Inside the car, a number of traditional luxury design cues--including a completely different dashboard, standard leather upholstery, and aluminum-finish trim with a choice of light or dark word trim--conveyed the car's "Lincoln-ness" and differentiated it from its mass-market siblings.
Only a single powertrain was offered in the 2006 Lincoln Zephyr, comprising a 221-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission powering the front wheels. Reviewers lauded the car for its quiet cabin and good roadholding and handling, though its acceleration was only considered adequate, and didn't match up to competitors that included the sportier Nissan Maxima and Volkswagen Passat offered at the same price level.
Safety features included six airbags, including front and side bags for the two front-seat passengers as well as side-curtain bags for all four occupants in the outboard positions. Traction control and four-wheel disc brakes are standard, but reviewers noted the omission of stability control.
The 2006 Lincoln Zephyr came in only a single trim level, with standard features that included 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry, and power windows, locks, and mirrors. Inside, the Zephyr featured leather upholstery and wood trim, 10-way power front seats with memory for the driver's side, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker audio system with in-dash CD changer, MP3 compatibility, an analog clock, and a split folding rear seat with a passthrough to the trunk, which was fairly large at 15.8 cubic feet. Options included a power moonroof, a navigation system using DVDs for storage, ventilated seats, and high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights. An optional THX-II audio system came with no fewer than 14 speakers and featured a 600-Watt amplifier.
When the 2006 Zephyr evolved into the 2007 Lincoln MKZ, it was fitted with a more powerful 263-hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine, optional all-wheel drive and satellite radio, and updated front styling. The 2006 Zephyr is thus a one-year model with a less powerful engine than the next three years of MKZ.