In its place as a renamed, restyled and more powerful entry level luxury sedan is the MKZ. And, as the adage goes, what difference a year makes.
The MKZ is everything the Zephyr wasn’t. It has more horsepower, more interior space (15.8 cubic feet in the trunk, for example), an attractive redesign (including a pronounced chrome front grill and other chrome trim) improved interior refinements and a better warranty.
Similar to the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, the MKZ has the high-end standard features apropos the Lincoln tradition. The MKZ is equipped with a host of standard features: 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, wood trim, power seats with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control and a seven-speaker CD stereo with an MP3 player input jack. Options include chrome wheels, xenon HID headlights, a sunroof, an upgraded THX-certified sound system, satellite radio, navigation system and heated and cooled front seats.
My weekly driver was the 263-horsepower (42 more than the Zephyr), four-door, 3.5-liter V6 with the all-wheel drive option and a six-speed automatic transmission. Those are attractive features, and the vehicle powers down the road with authority.
But at least in my instance, the MKZ also presented itself as nicely as any sedan I’ve driven. Its exterior paint, oddly named Amethyst Clearcoat Metallic (read Merlot) was Cameleon-like. On overcast days, the vehicle simply appeared black. But when in sunlight, its tone was more like a looking at glass of wine against a light source. In short, the exterior was nearly translucent.
The interior was no less impressive. Sand-colored leather seats were nicely matched against a light-tone wood console, door trim and steering wheel. The MKZ may be an entry level luxury vehicle, but it’s also as handsome as some of its higher-priced competitors.
The navigation system ($2,495), heated and cooled seats ($495) and Halogen HID headlamps ($495) are the most expensive options. Add the destination charge ($715) and the MKZ’s total price gets pushed past $35,000.
With its various upgrades, there’s not much to dislike about the MKZ. It accelerates nicely and cruises down the freeway with authority and with drive (and passengers) in confident comfort. Steering and handling are satisfactory, with one exception. In city driving, the MKZ isn’t exactly nimble in parking, U-turn or other technical situations.
The Weekly Driver: 2007 Lincoln MKZ
Safety Features – Dual front and side and side curtain side airbags.
Fuel Mileage (estimates) – 18 mpg (city), 26 mpg (highway).
Warranty – Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; (24-hour) roadside assistance program, 4 years/50,000 miles.
Base Price – $31,050.