Ford's luxury brand Lincoln has be been in a sad place for some time now. Sales sagged badly, and it's image is not what it once was. But there's hope. This Lincoln MKZ is the first vehicle in a total revamping of the Lincoln lineup due over the next couple of years. And so far, it's been moving out of dealers at a good pace. So let's see if the MKZ is a true sign of great things to come for Lincoln.
It took Lincoln quite a while to deliver a 2013 MKZ to us for a complete road test. So we had plenty of time to remember all of the gussied up Fords that Lincoln has tried to pass on as luxury cars in recent years, and we were quite prepared for more of the same with the all new Lincoln MKZ.
But not so fast. This MKZ is quite different from the Ford Fusion that it's based on. Though it rides on a chassis with the same mid-sized 122.2 inch wheelbase, overall length is over two inches longer. More notably, all body panels are unique, and Lincoln wears its own face with the best rework of their classic dual split-wing grille yet. And in an effort to further distinguish from the Fusion, the MKZ offers a huge, retractable glass roof not available at the Ford store.
Like most brands that are out to reinvent themselves, Lincoln is attempting to attract younger buyers, and this thoroughly modern take should help. However, to us, the MKZ’s smooth front doesn't seem to jive with the very angular rear, which still looks like “old money.” But all in all, it is the most original Lincoln since the Jaguar-based LS arrived in 1999.
That impression is further reinforced inside. It’s a very progressive design with features like Push Button Shift for the transmission and of course MyLincoln Touch. There’s also decent materials, a much more flowing design with artistic use of wood tones, richer looking gauges, and front seats with a custom feel that are also more comfortable than Fusion. Overall, the environment is luxurious in a non-showy way. Except for one thing, the cheap feeling steering wheel paddle shifters. We could live without them.
The rear seat is roomy for three. Plus, for uplevel safety, it includes Ford’s inflatable rear seat belts. The split seatbacks fold for cargo flexibility. The trunk is also well appointed, and holds an adequate 15.4 cubic feet of luggage.
Also unlike the Fusion, a V6 is still be available; the 300-horsepower 3.7-liter used in the MKX crossover. It’s a good move to attract luxury buyers. But the V6 is only one of three choices. Most MKZs will come powered by Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4 with 240-horsepower and 270 lb-ft. of torque. It’s plenty powerful, but makes a bit too much noise for a luxury car.
There’s also an MKZ Hybrid, sharing the 2.0-liter I4 system from the Fusion Hybrid. Non-hybrids shift with a 6-speed automatic, and there’s Lincoln Drive Control which adjusts engine, transmission, and chassis settings with Sport, Normal, and Comfort modes. All-wheel-drive is an option.
As for high-tech “keep up with the Jones’” type of things, there’s self-parking, and a hidden rear dome light that senses when you want it to come on, without actually touching it. Also, a whole suite of camera and radar based safety aides are available including Lane Keeping, Collision Warning, and Blind Spot monitoring.
Monitoring our progress down the track, we observed a 0-60 time of 7.7-seconds with good, initial power off the line. Transmission shifts are smooth and brisk; and in 15.9-seconds we tripped the lights at the end of the quarter mile at 89 miles-per-hour.
Our handling portion of track activities was equally inspiring with a surprisingly delightful touch of oversteer… and the brakes responded respectably as well, with stops averaging only 119-feet from 60.
Even with all-wheel-drive, Government Fuel Economy Ratings are pretty good if you opt for the 2.0 EcoBoost; 22-City, 31-Highway, and 25-Combined, and we averaged a good 27.5 miles—per-gallon of Regular in mixed driving. So the Energy Impact Score is also decent with annual oil consumption of 13.2-barrels of oil and CO2 emissions of 5.9-tons.
Having a low base price might not give it status in the luxury community, but it does just fine for those looking for a bargain, and at $36,820 the Lincoln MKZ is just that.
Clearly the 2013 Lincoln MKZ is not the Lincoln we were expecting. It’s much better and more in line with other premium brands from mass market automakers. It is a strong statement that Ford is committed to making Lincoln relevant again. Now we’ll find out if luxury car buyers are still listening.
Engine: 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4
Torque: 270 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.9 seconds @ 89 mph
EPA: 22 mpg city/ 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.9 tons/yr