Despite an imperfection or two, Lincoln’s midsize sedan provides a comfortable, relaxing ride, along with a hint of Lincolns past. High on eye appeal, MKZ stands for subtle, contemporary American luxury.

Pricing and Equipment

Starting at $36,115 (including an $895 destination charge) in base form with an EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, my MKZ came with a V6, all-wheel drive, and a host of options, driving the total past $51,000. Standard equipment included:

  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Heated power mirrors
  • Adaptive LED headlights
  • Heated leather-trimmed seats
  • 10-way power front seats
  • Adaptive suspension
  • Pushbutton start
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control

My test MKZ also had an optional Preferred Equipment Group ($5,375), Panoramic sunroof ($2,995), and inflatable rear seatbelts ($195). A Technology Pkg ($2,250) included Lane Keeping, adaptive cruise control, and active park assist

Performance Pros

Even if no performance attributes screamed for attention during my week-long test, I had no complaints about driving qualities.

  • Acceleration cannot qualify as stunning with the V6, but no one expects it to be. Instead, response to the gas pedal is appropriate and sufficiently energetic.
  • Well-controlled handling is the rule, complemented by a mildly sporty nature, but with no surprises likely. No prior Lincoln ever handled like this MKZ.
  • Available all-wheel drive. It's not just for snowbelt residents.
  • Add a comparatively smooth ride, if not quite cushion-y, and the MKZ scores a solid hit.

Performance Cons

  • Fuel Economy. The EPA's estimate of 18/26 mpg (city/highway) isn't bad, but I barely hit 18 in mixed driving. That's not unusual, but it's worth considering the EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder instead, with a 22/33 mpg estimate. Or, the MKZ Hybrid.
  • Controls. Placing the Start button high on the dashboard, for instance, can be confusing.
  • Noise. Ordinarily, the MKZ is reasonably quiet, but the engine can growl when accelerating.

Interior Pros

  • Comfortable and supportive front seats, with good space.
  • Modern and stylish appearance, centered around a swoopy-look dashboard that flows into the center console.

Whether the massive panoramic roof ranks as Pro or Con depends upon your impression of sunroofs in general. I say, if you want to see and/or feel the sky and wind, look for a convertible.

Interior Cons

  • Rear-seat comfort. Back seats definitely don't match the fronts for comfort. Toe space is good, legroom adequate. But headroom? Scant, at best. Don't even think about the center rear position unless you're a child or well below average in height, as headroom barely qualifies as meager.
  • Speedometer readability is impaired by a too-short pointer.
  • Adopting buttons for the automatic transmission was wholly unnecessary, and it's hard to keep form looking down to shift. What's wrong with the familiar gearshift lever?

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Lincoln MKZ Red

That’s easy: An overall luxury aura hints at Lincolns of the past, even though the MKZ is directly related to Ford’s family-oriented Fusion. Some critics have faulted MKZ for lacking evidence of Lincoln’s illustrious heritage. That’s true of other models; but in my opinion, not the MKZ. Even though I’m most enamored by classic and collectible cars, including Lincoln Continentals, I applauded the subtle taste of sensible luxury in this contemporary “lower-end” Lincoln.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Let’s not mince words here. Instruments and controls, in my view, were simply awful. Building upon the often-criticized, precarious foundation of SYNC and MyFordTouch, Lincoln evidently managed to add even more confusion and lack of clarity.

The Bottom Line

The more modern and efficient 240-horsepower EcoBoost engine sounds like a better choice than the 300-hp V6, especially for fuel economy. Watch those options, either way. My all-wheel-drive MKZ had more than $13,000 worth: one-fourth the total MSRP of the car.