2008 Lincoln MKZ


Review: 2007 Lincoln MKZ

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

The discontinued Jaguar-based Lincoln LS never made much of a splash, but the new Lincoln MKZ promises to do better.
  • Stronger engine
  • Luxurious
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Large turning circle
  • Small gauges
  • Folded rear seatbacks don't sit flat

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
The Zephyr had good sales, but Lincoln plans to replace all its model names with a series of letters, following the lead of foreign automakers. That move may confuse some customers and indicate uncertainty to others, but Ford Motor's Lincoln-Mercury division is trying hard to distinguish Lincoln from its other nameplates.

Lincoln also wants younger buyers—the typical MKZ buyer is projected to be a 38-year-old college graduate.

Equals Japanese Rivals
Whatever—the MKZ is generally as good as Japan's rival, costlier Lexus ES 350 and Acura TL. However, convincing a good number of foreign-minded car buyers to visit a Lincoln showroom may be a problem.

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.

Sporty Heritage
The fast, good handling MKZ's sporty personality reminds me of early 1950s Lincolns, which won long, hard road races against stiff U.S. and foreign autos in fairly stock form. The wins didn't enable Lincoln to get close to Cadillac—the established luxury market leader—so Lincoln began concentrating on larger, more luxurious cars.

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.

Competively Priced
The Zephyr's standard front-wheel-drive setup is kept, but all-wheel drive is offered for $1,875. The competitively priced front-wheel-drive MKZ lists at $29,175, while the AWD version thus costs $31,050.

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.

Safety Features
Among safety features are front-seat side and side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution for surer stops.

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.

All-Wheel Drive
The MKZ has a standard traction control system. All-wheel drive provides better grip than front-wheel drive on both dry and slippery roads. But it adds weight, complexity and friction, which lower fuel economy a little.

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.

Revised Styling
The revised styling includes a new front fascia. The new "waterfall" grille gives the MKZ a more assertive, upscale appearance. There's some tasteful glitz, such as chromed trim at the car's beltline just under the windows and on rearview mirror covers.

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.

Sharp Handling
The MKZ is rigidly built and has stiffer springs and dampers and thicker anti-sway bars for sharp handling and flat cornering. The ride is on the firm side, but well controlled.

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.

Upscale Interior
The interior is quiet and upscale. Rear-seat room is especially impressive, with even the center of the back seat fairly comfortable—something that can't be said for most cars. The rear seat also has a large fold-down armrest with dual cupholders.

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.


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BB06 - 9/19/2014 11:19:58 AM