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2018 Lincoln MKZ Overview
Debuting in 2006 as the Zephyr, the first generation Lincoln MKZ had an unceremonious and underappreciated tenure on the market. The current generation, released in 2013, sought to address this with a clean-sheet redesign with distinctive styling and improved mechanicals. Fresh off the heels of a 2017 facelift, the MKZ remains a competitive entry-level luxury sedan and receives no major updates for 2018.
Despite its unremarkable name, the MKZ’s styling makes quite a statement—it looks like nothing else on the market, least of all the Ford Fusion which shares much of its architecture. The windswept styling, abrupt decklid, and high beltline are unique for the market, and certainly place it above its closest competition. A 2017 revamp exchanged the Lincoln brand’s split-wing grille for a multifaceted, one-piece unit and improved interior switchgear and design touches.
The MKZ offers an assortment of powertrains. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder good for 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, and averages 21 mpg city, 31 highway, and 24 combined with front-wheel drive (FWD). With the optional all-wheel drive (AWD), those numbers fall to 20, 28, and 23.
For the same cost as a base FWD model, buyers can choose a hybrid platform with a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine and an electrically assisted continuously variable transmission (CVT), exclusively with FWD. The hybrid bumps fuel economy up to 41 mpg city, 38 highway, and 40 combined, impressive for a larger five-person sedan. Power drops considerably to 188 hp and 129 lb-ft. of torque. Acceleration is best described as leisurely, and highway passing maneuvers should be planned well in advance.
Lastly, in a nod to enthusiasts, the MKZ offers an exclusive 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine. In exchange for lower fuel-economy ratings (17, 26, and 20), the 3.0-liter puts out an impressive 400 hp and 400 lb-ft. of torque. It’s paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and optional torque-vectoring AWD for optimal cornering. This engine transforms the MKZ’s road characteristics from straightforward and uninspired to powerful and sporty; it's a worthy upgrade for anyone interested in spirited driving.
The first word that comes to mind when stepping into the MKZ’s swoopy interior is “spacious.” That’s because Lincoln cleverly applied a blend of sweeping panels, open spaces, and thin seats to make full-size accommodations from the car’s midsize dimensions. Both rows of seats are all-day comfortable. Much like the MKZ’s competitors, a few accents appear inexpensive, but, overall, it comes across as premium— especially the metal switches. Front and center on the dashboard sits Sync 3, Lincoln’s infotainment system that is highly-regarded for its large graphics and ease of use and comes equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The center stack is arranged logically, with buttons grouped categorically. The only drawback to the MKZ is Lincoln’s push-button gear selector; it free up console space, but is awkward to use. The most notable cabin feature is an optional retractable panoramic glass roof, a single pane of glass that slides back to expose a sizeable opening.
The MKZ is split into four trim levels, each of which offers the 4-cylinder turbocharged engine with FWD standard and a AWD option. The base trim, the Premiere, starts at just over $35,000 and comes standard with 18-inch wheels, adaptive high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights with LED signatures, LED taillights, 10-way heated power front seats, a premium 11-speaker audio system, reversing sensors and leatherette upholstery.
Stepping up to the Select adds interior lighting and unlocks a number of available options. The Technology Package comes with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assist, pedestrian detection, parking assistance, lane-keeping assistance, rain-sensing wipers, and a windshield wiper de-icing function. The Climate package adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and rain-sensing wipers. Blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic detection and navigation with voice recognition are included on the Select. A standard sunroof, a panoramic moonroof, a powered rear sunshade, are 19-inch wheels are all optional features.
The Reserve adds genuine leather upholstery, an auto-hold feature for the brakes, navigation, 4-way powered lumbar support for the front seats, driver's seat memory functions, a powered trunk lid, and blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert. The aforementioned Technology Package, Climate Packages and sunroof/moonroof choices are optional. The Luxury package comes with fully adaptive-LED headlights and a 20-speaker audio system. Massaging seats and the turbocharged 6-cylinder engine are optional add-ons as well.
Finally, the Black Label comes with finer leather upholstery, 19-inch alloy wheels, a 20-speaker audio system, and admission to Lincoln’s Black Label concierge program. It also gives buyers the option of one of three themes—Chalet, Thoroughbred, and Vineyard—each with exclusive, rich upholstery colors, like cocoa, camel and violet. The Technology Package, standard sunroof or panoramic moonroof, massaging seats, and 6-cylinder are optional.
Lincoln equips the MKZ with the full bevy of airbags, including driver and front-passenger dual-stage airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, front knee airbags, and side curtain airbags for all rows. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the MKZ a top-rating of Good in all crash categories. The National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) gave the 2018 MKZ a top rating of 5 stars.
The MKZ presents itself as a premium, if not exactly pedigreed, car with a sense of style and refinement.It’s good value for the money when foregoing pricier add-ons and packages. The real standout, though, is the 6-cylinder/AWD combo, which turn the MKZ into a veritable hot rod. With either engine option, the 2018 Lincoln MKZ is a solid choice for an entry-level luxury sedan.
Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.
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