2017 Lincoln MKZ: A worthy underdog luxury sedan

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Four years after its last redesign, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ received an interior refresh and an exterior facelift. The five-seat luxury sedan debuted in 2006 as the Zephyr and was renamed the MKZ the following year.

2017 Lincoln MKZ: A worthy underdog luxury sedan 1

Regardless of the badge, the underdog Lincoln is still seeking a better market share. It’s positioned among the most competitive automotive segments. Since its debut, the vehicle gas-only trims have sold more than 34,000 units in the United States in a year only twice. Sales the last two years were slightly more than 30,000.

Available with gas-only or hybrid engines, the Lincoln MXZ has four trim levels. The standard letter or number sequences many manufacturers use has been dispatched for Premier, Select, Reserve and the top-line Black Label. The interior changes include updated radio and climate controls and a simplified console. The exterior tweaking resulted in a new front grille, new headlights and a sleeker body.

A 2.0-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission and 245 horsepower is standard. A 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 is optional. The hybrid model has a 2.0-liter engine, an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission. Gas mileage averages are 21 miles per gallon in the city, 31 miles per gallon on the highway.

The luxury sedan segment is chock-full of superior choices, some sports-oriented, others dutiful. The Lincoln MKZ can’t compete with BMW-oriented buyers. Volvo rules the segment for mountain dwellers seeking ruggedness in their vehicles.

But the MKZ is a less expensive (starting MSRP of $36,095) cruiser than the Lexus ES350, Cadillac ATS or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It delivers a smooth, quiet ride as a suitable companion for comfortable long highway hauls from the Bay Area to Southern California or anywhere else.

As an homage to sedans from the 1950s, the Lincoln’s transmission is a vertical column of buttons positioned to the left of the dashboard infotainment center. There’s no shifter. Instead, the area between the front seats is clean and open. A recessed, nearly hidden and flat storage platform offers plenty of room for accessories and a pass-through area.

The push-button system has a learning curve, but it’s a refreshingly simple approach with the options “S” for sport mode and the logical choices for driving or stopping: “P, R, N and D.”

Many manufacturers have increased and varied standard equipment lists. The MXZ’s offering is plentiful: An 11-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, USB ports, satellite radio, an 8-inch display, dual-zone automatic climate control, a proximity key, push-button and remote start.

A rearview camera, rear parking sensors and a built-in garage door opener are also standard. The upscale Reserve trim also features 19-inch wheels, a power trunk lid and ventilated front seats.

Additional safety features include: blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, forward collision warning with automatic braking and pedestrian detection.

And there are front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular parking assistance, lane keep assist and a driver alert monitor.

Additional equipment: A household power outlet, rear-seat USB charging ports, side view mirrors that automatically dim and fold, a glass panoramic roof and adaptive LED headlights.

There’s no exact definition of luxury, but the new Lincoln has one additional classy touch: Doors handles are backlit at night and the Lincoln logo is projected below the driver and passenger front doors.

Likes:
Smooth, quiet, comfortable ride.
Powerful acceleration.
Spacious trunk.

Dislikes:
Push-button transmission requires a learning curve.

Facts & Figures: 2017 Lincoln MKZ

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.0 seconds
Airbags: 6.
Fuel economy: 21, mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway), 26 mpg combined, six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 285
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $36,095 (starting price).
Manufacturer’s Website: www.lincoln.com.
Price As Tested: Not available.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 6 years/70,000 miles; Free maintenance, 2 years/24,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“Few entry-level luxury sedans are loaded straight out of the box. Not so with the 2017 Lincoln MKZ. Every model in the lineup has a long list. — Edmunds.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The 2017 Lincoln MKZ isn’t as plush or performance-oriented as some of its competitors. But it doesn’t have the high prices of the status brands, either. And that’s one major reason to consider it a worthy luxury sedan.”

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