2017 Lincoln MKZ Review

Following the MKC and MKX, Lincoln has shown that it can compete with the top cars in the luxury class. 

Lincoln’s latest generation of crossovers introduced a unique style, powerful engines, quality finishes and a long list of features to choose from. Now it’s time for the luxury brand to take that momentum into the mainstream sedan segment with the MKZ.

What you’ll notice first about the changes is that the MKZ gets a new front end with a grille that’s reminiscent of Bentleys and Jaguars. The old “split-wing grille” design is scrapped in favor of this more traditional look and it suits the car well, making it look upscale like those old-world brands. Helping you warm up to the car, it welcomes you when approached, sensing the key fob, then splashing some light onto the ground in front of the front doors in response. The LED taillights and daytime running lights glow, too, as if the car is coming to life.

Without a doubt, the car makes an impression and it carries into the interior as well. There are fewer cheap plastic panels than before and most of the cabin uses a brushed aluminum trim with a unique texture that certainly doesn’t feel like anything that’s been used in the Ford lineup. While the seats don’t seem as plush and soft as the ones featured in the MKX, this sedan still features Scottish Bridge of Weir leather, while other panels use Waldorf hides, both of which feel special to the touch, although gently stroking the seats and dashboard will get a few funny looks from other motorists. There’s even an available seating package that offers plenty of power-adjustable settings and a massage function.

The models we tested were pre-production vehicles and, as such, there were a few issues with fit and finish. Some stitching appeared to be missing on the door panel, while other panels on the dashboard had inconsistent gaps. Take a closer look at the final production models, as Lincoln representatives say these issues should be cleared up by the time it hits the market.

Changes on the Inside

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Further tactile improvements include the central control panel, which not only features push-button gear selector, but sports a number of buttons and knobs that feel much better than what Lincoln had before. Particularly, the fan speed adjustment knob, which is substantially chunky and clicky, feeling just right for a luxury vehicle.

Smack dab at the top of the control panel is an updated LCD touchscreen that uses the new SYNC3 technology, meaning it’s quick and laid out in a more sensible manner. There are also new transitions and animations that make the whole production look sleeker. The system also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Tested without a smartphone hooked up, it’s clear the system is quick and easy to use, although the navigation system hides a few crucial controls like zoom, which became frustrating when manipulating the view of the map.

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Other interior features include a massive panoramic sunroof and Revel branded audio systems. A 14-speaker setup is standard or you can upgrade to a 20-speaker system like our test cars had. Following a trend Mercedes’ started with its  Burmester speakers, the Revel speakers in the Lincoln MKZ have an artistic flair that spruces up the cabin. As with other Lincolns, there’s an impressive light show inside the car, thanks to customizable ambient lighting.

And despite the MKZ’s exotic looking interior and exterior, space is an issue. Head room for front passengers is limited, and leg room for rear passengers is non-existent when the front seats are set for a six-foot tall person.

Whoosh or Whirr

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Under the hood are three engine choices: two turbocharged engines and a hybrid. The big news is a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 400 hp will be offered, but not until later this year. That leaves the turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder making 245 hp and a hybrid powertrain that uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired to an electric motor and CVT to make 188 hp. Both the 2.0-liter turbo and hybrid were available for testing.

We tested the cars on the east coast of Canada, where the two turbocharged versions of the car will be sold with standard all-wheel drive. Opting to get the hybrid means you’re stuck with front-wheel drive, but it costs the same as the 2.0T model. That all-wheel drivetrain is proactive and constantly monitors the level of traction available, and will vary the amount of power to the front and rear wheels in order to maximize grip. American customers have a bit more choice as the turbocharged four- and six-cylinder vehicles can be had with front- or all-wheel drive. Hybrids are stuck with front-wheel drive.

Smooth

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The MKZ is a smooth operator on the road. The vehicle glides on the road and imperfections don’t rattle the steering wheel or even the chassis. It’s thoroughly comfortable and even though that means there are times where the car feels a little numb, it’s forgiven, as the silky dynamics seem to be what this car is made for. Steering is on the light side, which is rare in the luxury car segment where most cars have noticeably heavy steering to give a sense of confidence and sportiness on the road.

A major component that makes the MKZ drive so elegantly on the road is the continuously controlled damping system. By sensing a number of parameters about the car and the driver inputs, the car can react within milliseconds to deliver a truly smooth and comfortable ride. A sport mode tightens up the car for more aggressive drivers, but the standard setting is so soft and smooth that triggering the sport mode turns the car into something it’s not really built for.

Power delivery with the turbocharged four-cylinder is smooth, if a little sedate. Don’t expect the thrust to be anything close to thrilling with this engine, and maybe leave that mission to the upcoming turbocharged V6. The six-speed transmission is accommodating and gears down as needed for a pass, with little hesitation. Paddle shifters give the driver a bit more control, although the car will lock out downshifts if they’re too close to the edge of comfortable driving.

Fuel Economy and Pricing

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Front-wheel-drive 2.0T models will earn 21 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined, while all-wheel-drive models see 1 less mpg in combined driving.

The hybrid is designed to accommodate the more green-friendly driver. If the turbocharged-four seemed slow, the hybrid will seem ever so slightly slower, despite a significant difference in power. The electric motor and CVT help the car feel spritely off the line, although passes take much more time and the internal combustion engine buzzes like a vacuum that’s been left on. The hybrid has a different gauge cluster, no sport mode (instead there’s an L mode that acts like an engine brake) and a different eco mode that also showcases the flow of power from the battery, gas engine and electric motor.

The added benefit with the hybrid is, of course, the impressive fuel economy, with the hybrid coming in at 41 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and an impressive 40 mpg combined. That’s a significant jump in fuel economy from the turbocharged engine.

The Hybrid has one more trick up its sleeve: it costs the same as the turbocharged model. Starting at $35,935 including destination, the hybrid and the 2.0T cost the same and have the same standard features. The 2.0T with AWD comes in at $37,825 while V6 models will be $40,435 for FWD models or $43,575 for AWD. A number of packages are available and come with great features including adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assistance, lane departure warning system, blind spot information and more. Still, the most interesting thing Lincoln offers is the Black Label range, which offers access to additional services like a personal concierge, while allowing customers to choose a more unique interior with different materials.

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The Verdict: 2017 Lincoln MKZ Review

There were times with the old MKZ where you could see and feel the old Ford Fusion bones, but those times are now long gone. The 2017 model is a thoroughly impressive premium vehicle, with great style, excellent features, an array of engine choices and even more customizability than some of the most recognized luxury brands on the market. In the cutthroat world of luxury cars, Lincoln is steadily making a case for its vehicles thanks to the attention to detail found in the MKZ.