2009 Lincoln MKZ Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 1, 2009

Though it’s in a very conservative package, the 2009 Lincoln MKZ is a credible luxury bargain for those who value comfort over driving excitement.

To put together this extensive review on the 2009 Lincoln MKZ, TheCarConnection.com's team of car experts studied reviews from reliable Web sources. Editors from TheCarConnection.com also have driven the 2009 Lincoln MKZ, including examples fitted with all-wheel drive, to provide you with firsthand advice about this mid-size, entry-luxury sedan.

The mid-size Lincoln MKZ was originally called Zephyr for 2006, but the name later changed; it was significantly upgraded for 2008 and continues as a 2009 model with very few alterations.

The 2009 Lincoln MKZ is an example of traditional American luxury—prioritizing comfort and luxury amenities over raw autobahn performance. With a 263-horsepower V-6 and available all-wheel drive, it is no wallflower, though. It shares many components with the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, but wraps them in a more stylish sheetmetal. This equation is followed by plenty of manufacturers, including Lexus, which creates models off Toyota platforms.

Distinctive Lincoln styling helps the 2009 MKZ stand out from other luxury cars, although in a very conservative way. The look is clean and modern, but the tall grille and boxy back end make it instantly recognizable as a Lincoln.

Review continues below

The standard running gear for the MKZ is a 3.5-liter, 263-horsepower V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission with either front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. Unlike many other engines of its power output, the Ford engine doesn’t require premium fuel.

Dynamically, the 2009 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 deal with inclement weather where you live, this is a worthwhile trade-off.

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. AdvanceTrac electronic stability is standard for the 2009 model year, bringing it in line with its competitors.

Lincoln claims that the MKZ’s interior is the roomiest in its class, and that doesn’t surprise editors from TheCarConnection.com. The standard front seats include both heating and cooling settings, and the backseat is roomier than expected—good enough for two large adults in long-trip comfort.

New-for-2009 options include a Midnight Black special-edition package that features premium leather seating surfaces and contrasting wood inserts to help create a unique interior, as well as a voice-activated navigation system. Other standard features include a reverse-sensing system; Lincoln’s SYNC system, which uses voice-activated commands, Bluetooth, 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 high-quality materials and tight panel gaps. On the road, the interior is quiet, though the powertrain can get loud under full throttle.

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2009 Lincoln MKZ

Styling

Depending on what you’re shopping for, you might see the 2009 Lincoln MKZ sedan as either crisp and elegant or a little too conservative.

Distinctive Lincoln styling helps the 2009 MKZ look modern and elegant, but there’s no side-stepping that its appearance is very conservative inside and out and likely not very appealing to young people.

The Lincoln MKZ carries a theme of “angular styling touches” throughout its sheetmetal and interior, with a boxiness at the back and a tall grille in front, Cars.com says. Edmunds agrees that the “exterior styling includes the familial Lincoln waterfall grille and tasteful chrome trim.” Kelley Blue Book remarks that the Lincoln MKZ has a "casual, confident and more understated design,” and adds, “with its bold waterfall grille, jewel-like quad projector-beam headlamps, judicious use of chrome trim, and low-profile tires on 17-inch, eight-spoke machined aluminum wheels, the 2009 Lincoln MKZ certainly looks the part of a credible midsize luxury sedan."

But a number of reviewers see the MKZ in a completely different, less positive, light. Car and Driver notes "the styling is plebeian," and the Washington Post finds that the Lincoln MKZ "looks dated, like something for little old people."

Inside, it’s a similar theme. Edmunds observes a “distinctive, retro-look interior design” for the MKZ, adding that its interior shapes "look like nothing from the European and Asian manufacturers, for better or worse." Cars.com reports the MKZ Lincoln features "satin nickel trim," while "the dashboard features electroluminescent gauges." Kelley Blue Book catalogs "generous portions of real wood, satin nickel and chrome accents."

The Washington Post simply states the Lincoln MKZ interior is "a work of squares and circles reminiscent of wooden geometric forms used to teach shapes to kindergartners," while Motor Trend notes there are “two interior treatments from which to choose: one looking clean and tech-like, with real aluminum inserts, and another, more traditional cabin treatment with maple trim that comes from actual trees.”

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2009 Lincoln MKZ

Performance

The 2009 Lincoln MKZ earns kudos for its improved handling, as well as its available all-wheel drive and engine power, but its cushy ride isn’t for sport-sedan aficionados.

The 2009 Lincoln MKZ packs a high-output V-6 engine and all-wheel drive—elements Lincoln fans might not be accustomed to seeing in their car.

The MKZ’s updated V-6 engine impresses most reviewers. Motor Trend measures a 0-60-mph time of 6.8 seconds and avers “the engine sounds and feels good, and while not as polished as Toyota/Lexus or Honda V-6s of the same size, it is class competitive.”

Cars.com reports "a 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 249 pounds-feet of torque," which ConsumerGuide says "has sufficient power for most any situation and is confidently strong in highway merging and passing." Critical in other areas, Washington Post declares that the MKZ Lincoln's "3.5-liter, 263-horsepower V-6 engine is capable, decent." The only negative comment about the Lincoln MKZ power plant comes from Edmunds: “despite having more power than the original 2006 Zephyr, the MKZ's 3.5-liter V-6 is merely adequate." Yet in a separate review, they note it “provides enjoyable power throughout its rev range.”

AutoWeek reports that the Lincoln MKZ's "six-speed automatic transmission go about [its] business without frenzy; shift changes are smart but without a kick." ConsumerGuide agrees that the "transmission is generally smooth and prompt," but notes that the MKZ "does not offer a manual shift gate." Motor Trend observes, “The transmission is a willing player, offering a gear for every occasion and smooth shifts, although there's no manual control over its six ratios.”

ConsumerGuide establishes "19.4 mpg in city/highway driving, 23.2 mpg with more highway use," adding that the "MKZ uses regular-grade gas." The EPA rates it at 17/24 mpg (city/highway) for AWD versions.

Most reviews approve of the 2009 Lincoln MKZ handling and overall road manners. ConsumerGuide calls it "a good blend of firm control and bump absorption, though...not as composed overall as the class leader." Edmunds notes, "Around turns, the car's steering is smooth and linear, and the body rolls slightly but in a progressive, predictable manner that's more than acceptable given the MKZ's relatively plush ride,” and AutoWeek says "the steering has ample boost at low speeds and becomes noticeably tighter on freeway jaunts...the chassis and suspension combo softens moderately rough pavement, yet it is stiff enough to keep the MKZ on an even keel through turns."

To help underline a point, Car and Driver assures prospective buyers that it is "not the floaty Lincoln of old...[it's] taut, firmly sprung, and pleasant enough to drive...a fully independent suspension that makes this the best-handling Lincoln in a long time."

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2009 Lincoln MKZ

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Lincoln MKZ offers traditional American luxury, with some modern improvements.

The 2009 Lincoln MKZ has more cabin room than expected—including a very spacious backseat—but some interior trim isn’t in the league of luxury competitors.

Across the board of reviews studied by TheCarConnection, the MKZ’s seats are almost universally lauded. AutoWeek notes that "Lincoln MKZ seats are supportive without being too stiff or soft," while "six-footers get ample headroom and legroom," according to ConsumerGuide, which adds that "seats are a rewarding blend of soft padding and comfortable backrest contours." Most impressive to TheCarConnection.com’s team of auto experts is the backseat; Kelley Blue Book reports "rear-seat space is surprisingly generous, with more than three feet (!) of legroom."

The Lincoln MKZ doesn't skimp on storage space, either. Cars.com reports "the 60/40-split rear seats fold to provide access to the 15.8-cubic-foot trunk." It's not all perfect, however; ConsumerGuide says "the MKZ Lincoln cargo area is useful in shape and volume," but is "ill suited to tall boxes and lined with cheap-feeling material." Nonetheless, Kelley Blue Book calls the Lincoln MKZ trunk "best in class."

The materials used inside are hit and miss, as Lincoln apparently tried to incorporate a modern look while also keeping with more conservative tradition. That includes real wood trim, which impresses some reviewers, but abundant silver-finished plastic turns others off. ConsumerGuide says "the interior is let down by unconvincing plastics designed to look like metal...other MKZ Lincoln cabin materials disappoint as well, trailing premium competitors in richness." Motor Trend points out “plastic bits are somewhat low rent,” but adds “it's a pleasant place to live and ride.” Edmunds contends, though, that “interior materials are high in quality and come in either dark or light color schemes. Dash and door panels are adorned with genuine wood and available nickel satin accents.”

Several reviewers point out the very quiet interior in the 2009 Lincoln MKZ. According to ConsumerGuide, Lincoln MKZ tires "are heard only on the coarsest surfaces. The engine has a pleasant hum while cruising but has a slightly ragged growl in rapid acceleration."

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2009 Lincoln MKZ

Safety

There are many sport sedans with better crash-test ratings than the 2009 Lincoln MKZ.

The 2009 Lincoln MKZ does only fair—when compared to other mid-size luxury sedans—in crash tests and includes a wide array of standard safety features. AdvanceTrac electronic stability is standard for the 2009 model year, bringing it in line with its competitors.

The MKZ gets a four-star rating for frontal and side impacts and rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the MKZ “good” for frontal impacts, but only “acceptable” for side impacts. Edmunds notes that these are "rather average crash ratings for a car in this class."

Safety gear, Cars.com reports, includes "all-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags.” Edmunds notes that the Lincoln MKZ "head airbags include a 'roll-fold' feature that helps to keep the airbag against the glass even if the occupant is out of position."

From the experience of TheCarConnection.com, the MKZ suffers from a somewhat short glassy area and deeply set seats, making visibility somewhat difficult for shorter drivers. Throw in the tall dash, and the driver and rear passengers don’t have the panoramic view out offered by some taller, glassier vehicles.

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2009 Lincoln MKZ

Features

The 2009 Lincoln MKZ scores some points on the competition with cooled seats and the class-exclusive SYNC interface.

Features are a strong point for the 2009 Lincoln MKZ. It offers everything that’s expected in this class, plus a couple that are still rare.

Car and Driver assesses "for the money, it offers an impressive list of standard equipment."

Edmunds reports “17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, wood trim, heated and cooled power front seats with driver-side memory, dual-zone automatic climate control and a seven-speaker CD stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack” are standard on the MKZ.

All standard on the 2009 Lincoln MKZ are "a hands-free communication and entertainment system [which] integrates mobile phones and media players using Bluetooth and USB technology...and a reverse-warning system that beeps at drivers to warn of things behind the vehicle," according to Cars.com. Edmunds notes that this "Lincoln SYNC" system allows a "cell phone's address book...[to be] wirelessly and automatically transferred to the vehicle."

The "interior options include a navigation system and a premium audio system with 14 speakers," reports Cars.com. Kelley Blue Book says "among the many Lincoln MKZ options are chromed wheels, a power moonroof, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps and DVD navigation."

A frequently complimented THX-certified audio system is offered as an upgrade, and reverse parking sensors are also available, as is all-wheel drive—a scarcer feature among front-drive, luxury sport sedans.

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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 7.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 6.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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