Latest Lincoln MKZ review
– Detroit, Michigan
Sometimes I like a car instantly, as soon as I see it or drive it. Other times it takes some time for me to warm up. It took a while for me to like the Lincoln MKZ, but the latest iteration, introduced at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, finally appeals to me. I enjoyed driving the MKZ in every situation. It’s not perfect in terms of interior packaging or technology, but overall, it’s a pleasant way to get from A to B in style.
Gutsy engine. One could argue for days whether anyone really needs a 400-horsepower engine in a Lincoln MKZ, but the fact is, I quite enjoyed the effortless passing power as I blasted around Metro Detroit on a cold weekend. The biturbocharged engine, as is the habit, builds boost early and eagerly, with a surge of torque that makes this car far quicker than any Lincoln MKZ before. It’s also more power and more torque than a Ford Focus RS. Make sure to buy all-wheel drive, though, or you’ll “only” get 350 hp from this engine.
Elegant interior styling. Sure, you can find fault with some of the plastics or the lack of room (more on that shortly), but the materials within this cabin are lovely. The interior has far more warmth than the inside of an Acura TLX or Lexus ES. And the metallic surfaces on all the center-stack controls are all great to touch and look at.
Outstanding Revel audio system. When I went to a press conference a few years ago that was touting the partnership between Lincoln and Revel, I suspected it might just be marketing mumbo-jumbo. But every time I listen to music on a Lincoln equipped with this fancy sound system, I am blown away by the clarity, realism, and warmth it produces. This one is no different; it’s definitely worth the $4,440 Technology package for this alone, nevermind the included LED headlights. But don’t just take my word for it: at my last job, I asked an audio expert to evaluate eight high-end car stereos. He put the Revel system in the number two spot.
Not too much sound. Sure, I had that Revel system blasting most of the time, but when I didn’t, it was notable how library-like the MKZ’s cabin remains. Credit, in part, is due to the active noise cancellation system that is standard on all trim levels.
It’s cramped in here. First, by the numbers, let me remind you that the MKZ has less trunk space and less passenger volume than a Honda Civic sedan. Next, let me explain it more clearly. I’m only about five-feet, ten-inches tall, yet my head is almost touching the car’s headliner when I have the driver’s seat as low as possible. Getting in and out requires me to duck, which is not what I expect in a midsize sedan. And as in many Ford and Lincoln vehicles, it’s tough to get the right relationship between steering wheel, pedal, and seat so I feel like I’m driving comfortably.
Sport mode doesn’t seem all that sporty. You can set the MKZ into Sport mode to elicit quicker transmission shifting and more aggressive suspension damping, but it’s really tough to notice the difference. Even in Sport mode, the MKZ is far more freeway floater than corner carver. The engine is killer, of course, but don’t be fooled into thinking this car drives with the verve of even, say, a Ford Fusion Sport.
Exterior design still leaves me undecided. It’s prettier than ever, that’s for sure, with the use of chrome perhaps less abundant than on earlier versions of this MKZ. But there’s something about this car’s shape and exterior adornments that fails to get me excited about plunking down big money. It neither looks extravagant nor understated; a luxury car should do one or the other, but the MKZ’s design just leaves me shrugging my shoulders. In fact...
...It doesn’t have its own identity. To my untrained eye, the MKZ looks pretty much identical to Lincoln’s range-topping Continental at first glance. That might seem like a good thing if you own an MKZ, but I think it’s more a reflection on neither car have a very distinctive style. And if I had ponied up the cash for a Continental, I would never want to have people mistake my car for a lowly MKZ.
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com