A comfortable and sedate luxury sedan, the 2018 Lincoln MKZ wears conservative sheet metal that'd make Brooks Brothers proud. But it's held back by a base engine that lacks refinement, pricey active safety features, and an interior that can't hide its middle-class roots.

Best Value

Pricing for 2018 MKZ models ranges from $36,530 for a front-wheel-drive Premier model equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to over $63,000 for an optioned-up all-wheel-drive version in Black Label trim with a 3.0-liter V6 under the hood. Select and Reserve models are the 'tweeners, and all four trims can be had in front- or all-wheel drive, with the V6 engine available in Select and above trims.

We'd skip the Premiere and opt for the Select model that adds navigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, real leather and wood trim, a power steering column with memory, and auto-folding outside mirrors (auto-dimming on the driver's side). It's also the entry model with access to advanced active safety systems.

  • Model: 2018 Lincoln MKZ Select
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Output: 245 hp / 275 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • MPG: 20 City / 28 Hwy
  • Options: MKZ Technology Package ($2,495, adaptive cruise control, park assist, lane keeping assist, pre-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beams, windshield wiper de-icer), Single Panel Moonroof ($1,200).
  • Base Price:$39,425 (including the $925 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$43,120

Performance

Lincoln MKZ

The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder offers brisk acceleration, while the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 is even more impressive – producing 350 horsepower in FWD models and 400 hp when ordered with all-wheel drive. Rounding things out is a nicely-weighted, electrically-assisted power steering system and an adaptive suspension that's tuned for a smooth and relaxed ride.

Holding things back is a chassis that – even harnessed with a 400-hp V6 and the suspension-firming Driver's Package – would rather spend the day cruising at highway speeds than carving back road corners. At the same time, of the three suspension settings (Normal, Comfort, and Sport), Sport mode feels the most natural, while the chassis struggles to compose itself in the overly soft Normal and Comfort settings.

Style

The MKZ is a smart-looking and conservative grey pinstripe suit conveyed to sheetmetal; last year's refresh – and its Continental-inspired grille – only makes things better. The near-liftback body is wrapped around an interior that boasts of comfortable front seats, respectable room in back, and 15.4 cubic feett of cargo space in the trunk.

Select and above trims are treated to leather seats and real wood trim, while Black Label buyers can choose from upgraded leather and materials in Chalet, Thoroughbred, and Vineyard themes.

The interior, however, is also the MKZ's biggest weakness. It's most apparent in the Premier model's plethora of matte plastic and synthetic leather. Despite a lofty price tag, even the Black Label – with its softer leathers and exotic materials – is unable to disguise its middle-class Fusion roots.

The Best and Worst Things

The MKZ's appealingly crisp and conservative exterior is undone by an interior that falls short of its luxury mission.

Right For? Wrong For?

Lincoln MKZ

The MKZ's taut, conservative design should appeal to style-conscious buyers.

At the same time, having to spend nearly $4,000 for advanced features that are standard on many competitors could prove to be a turn off for safety-conscious buyers.

The Bottom Line

An attractive design and smooth ride are hampered by a down-market interior and expensive advanced safety features, relegating the 2018 Lincoln MKZ to mid-pack status in the in the mid-size luxury class.