- Modern yet classic styling
- Long list of standard features
- Roomy interior
- Not the sharpest-handling sedan
- No electronic stability control offered
The 2008 Lincoln MKZ is a credible luxury bargain, with all-wheel drive and heritage styling cues as its killer apps.
The 2008 Lincoln MKZ is a traditional entry-level luxury sedan. To remain affordable, the Lincoln shares many components with the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, but wraps them in a nicer package. This equation is followed by plenty of manufacturers, including Lexus creating models off Toyota platforms, and Infiniti developing cars out of Nissans.
The MKZ name came into being in 2007, but the model actually originated as the all-new 2006 Lincoln Zephyr. In an unusual marketing move that recognized the competitiveness of the automobile business, Lincoln canned the Zephyr name after it significantly upgraded the model to become what you see as the 2008 Lincoln MKZ.
Classic Lincoln styling helps the 2008 MKZ stand out from other luxury cars. The look is clean, crisp, and modern with just enough heritage to make the car immediately recognizable as a Lincoln without being slavishly retro.
The standard running gear for the front-wheel-drive MKZ is a 3.5-liter, 263-horsepower V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The 3.5-liter V-6 was recognized by a respected industry publication (Ward's) as one of the world's 10 best engines because of its design and ability to produce its power on regular unleaded fuel. All-wheel drive is an option. Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, traction control, and side plus side curtain airbags. Performance in government crash tests is solid, but the IIHS side crash test only earned an "acceptable" rating. Electronic stability control is not offered, a curious omission for a car in this class.
Inside, the 2008 Lincoln MKZ is roomy and comfortable (Lincoln claims the roomiest in the class). Editors from TheCarConnection.com especially appreciated the standard front seats that included both heating and cooling settings. For Lincoln, 2008 was the year to make these seats standard, and while they were at it, they also added these items to the standard features list: a reverse-sensing system; Ford's SYNC system, which uses Bluetooth connectivity and a touch screen to control communications and entertainment; Sirius Satellite Radio; and a tire pressure monitoring system.
All of this equipment resides in an interior that looks and feels rich, a sensation helped by the nice leathers and genuine woods, as well as tight panel gaps. On the road, the interior is quiet, though the powertrain can get graunchy. Visibility is excellent.
Dynamically, the 2008 Lincoln MKZ handles well but unremarkably. Acceleration is quick in front-wheel-drive models, but the extra weight of the all-wheel-drive system slightly dulls throttle response. If you need to deal with snow where you live, this is a worthwhile trade-off.
The Audi A4 and Lexus ES 350 are both front-drive sedans (the ES is based on the Toyota Camry platform). The Audi is sportier than the Lincoln, but smaller. The Lexus is more sedate than the Lincoln, but that's the way Lexus buyers like their cars.
The rear-drive cars of this group are much more sporting in terms of driving personality and dynamics. The BMW 3 Series remains a performance benchmark that the 2008 Lincoln MKZ just can't match. However, the MKZ provides more room and value over the BMW--ditto for the fine-driving Infiniti G35.