Review: 2007 Lincoln MKZ
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The discontinued Jaguar-based Lincoln LS never made much of a splash, but the new Lincoln MKZ promises to do better.
The LS was dropped in 2006, but the MKZ debuted for 2006 as the Lincon Zephyr. It arrived with Ford Motor's also-new Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Compared to the Zephyr, the MKZ has revised styling, more power and newly available all-wheel drive, which is becoming an increasingly popular auto feature.
Why the name change? The Zephyr borrowed its rather poetic name from an advanced, streamlined 1930s and early 1940s Lincoln, and it's very unusual for an automaker to change the name of a car so soon after it has arrived as a new model.
Name Change Pitfalls
Lincoln also wants younger buyers—the typical MKZ buyer is projected to be a 38-year-old college graduate.
Equals Japanese Rivals
The Zephyr shared many components with the Fusion and Milan. And that front-wheel-drive trio was based on the Mazda6 because that car has been a winner and Ford Motor owns part of Mazda.
The largely unchanged Fusion and Milan keep their names for 2007, but aren't offered with the more powerful MKZ V6 engine or all-wheel drive.
The MKZ has Ford Motor's potent new 3.5-liter V6, which produces 263 horsepower and replaces the Zephyr's 3.0-liter 221-horsepower V6. The new V6 is smoother and provides stronger acceleration in town and on highways. The Fusion and Milan still have the 221-horsepower V6 and may have to wait until 2008 to get the MKZ engine.
The MKZ V6 is paired with a responsive, electronically controlled 6-speed automatic transmission. It has lacks a manual shift mode but upshifts smoothly and always has the right gear waiting for a driver command, such as for a passing maneuver.
The MKZ provides lots of equipment for the money. It includes leather upholstery, heated power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate controls, real wood (or satin nickel) interior trim, AM/FM radio with in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer, remote keyless entry and the usual power accessories.
Options include a $1,200 power sunroof, $495 cooled front seats, $895 chrome alloy wheels, $2,495 navigation system and $195 SIRIUS Satellite Radio. The industry's first THX II Certified 14-speaker audio system is $995.
The MKZ delivers an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 27 on highways with front-wheel drive and 18 and 26 with all-wheel drive. Only 87-octane gasoline is needed.
Also new are sporty looking 17-inch aluminum wheels with fairly wide 50-series tires for better handling and braking.
The rear bumper surface is almost flush for a cleaner look. Twin chrome exhaust pipe tips help provide a traditional American performance car look.
The rack-and-pinion steering is quick, but my test car's steering had a slightly rubbery feel, perhaps because it was equipped with all-wheel drive. The turning circle is rather large at 40 feet. The brake pedal is a little soft, but has a linear action and stopping power is good.
Front seats provide good side and thigh support. Gauges can be read quickly with their electro-luminescent lighting, but should be larger. Sound system and climate controls can be easily used, and white light-emitting diodes backlight controls and switches at night—a thoughtful touch.
The roomy trunk has a low, wide opening. Its lid has compact struts that don't impinge on trunk volume or crush cargo. But rear seatbacks don't sit entirely flat when moved forward to enlarge the cargo area.
The Zephyr was one of Ford Motor's top-quality vehicles, which suggests that MKZ quality should be above-average. Let's hope that Ford Motor keeps its name for a long time.