The 2007 Lincoln MKZ Road Test Review
What's in a name? Lincoln, like a number of other auto manufacturers are taking model names and replacing them with letters or numbers that may or may not mean something. Cadillac is doing it by retiring venerable names like DeVille, Eldorado and Seville and replacing them with names like DTS, STS and CTS. Now Lincoln joins this way of thinking be dropping a name that has much history in years past, then resurrected only last year, the Lincoln Zephyr will now be called the MKZ..
Aside from the name, the MKZ is essentially the same car as the Lincoln Zephyr that it replaces, with two exceptions, one significant and the other interesting, but minor. The significant change is the new 3.5 liter engine that replaces the somewhat strained 3.0 liter engine found in the Zephyr. The new engine makes a difference and allows the MKZ to be competitive in this popular class of near-luxury vehicles.
The other change is a redesigned grill, which gives this car a bit more Lincolness if you will. What's surprising is that the grill was changed after only one year. Usually, this type of change is only made during a freshening that comes somewhere around every 3 years, due to tooling costs and other factors.
The new V6 engine wakes the MKZ up and provides effortless acceleration where the Zephyr engine sounded strained under heavy throttle. Zero to sixty times are about a half second quicker, and the sound that the engine makes while accelerating is more in keeping with an upscale sedan competing in the near luxury class.
The MKZ stands out in this crowded field because it has no pretenses of being a sports sedan. Only one other car in this class fits that bill, the Lexus ES350.
Lexus does it because they already have a sports sedan in this price point called the IS350. Lincoln has no such alter ego to rely on, but then, to be a Lincoln means luxury and comfort, not blasting around turns in an undignified manner. No, the "Hot Rod Lincoln" is a thing of the past and does not seem to be in any current plans for the Lincoln brand.
At first glance, the interior of the MKZ exudes luxury in the quality of the materials and the fit and finish of the trim. It looks smart and classy with all the trappings of a modern high-end sedan. But on closer inspection, the controls and switches have been lifted from lower price Ford and Mercury models, and they look it. When you are comparing cars in this class, it's all in the details.
Driver and front passenger seats are both 10 way power and are heated. If you check off option 46B when ordering your MKZ, you will get premium perforated leather with the front seats both heated and cooled. That option will set you back $495.
For 2007, the MKZ can be ordered with all-wheel drive to replace the front-wheel drive setup that is standard. This system uses a viscous center limited slip differential coupled with electronic traction control to keep you sure footed in bad weather.
The MKZ is one of the few front-wheel drive cars in this class. Other cars are rear-wheel drive to enhance their sporty aspirations. Front-wheel drive is more sure footed when staying well below the car's handling limits and is considered safer in emergency handling, especially in the hands of a person who would never attempt to drive a car near its handling potential. This represents the vast majority of drivers on the road. For them, front-wheel drive is more predictable and safer.
The MKZ and its predecessor, the Zephyr, are built on the same platform as the highly competent Mazda 6 and is currently shared by theFord Fusion and Mercury Milan. The MKZ currently shares the new Ford 3.5 liter V6 with the Lincoln MKX and the Ford Edge crossover SUVs. We expect that this engine will find its way into many more Ford products in the near future.
The MKZ has some shortcomings as well, but with the possible exception of one, they are not significant enough to cause many people to turn away. In fact, these are the same complaints that I had when I reviewed last year's Lincoln Zephyr. For example, there is no stability control, neither standard nor optional. There is no manual mode for the 6-speed automatic transmission, (though most people who would be attracted to this car would never use it anyway), and there is a prop rod to hold the hood up instead of gas-charged struts which is what should be on a $30,000 plus vehicle. Of these gripes, the most serious is the lack of stability control.
On the positive side, the Lincoln MKZ can now be ordered with all-wheel drive, which should help considerably with foul weather driving. Also, with the new, more powerful engine, the shocks and stabilizer bars have been stiffened for improved handling with little effect on the ride.
The Lincoln MKZ has the goods to do well in this $30,000 plus field of near luxury sedans. It has a certain dignified style the other cars have turned away from in favor of the sleek sporty look. The interior is also a class act with the rich leathers and woods that surround the cabin. There is good value for the money here.