Based on Ford’s Fusion, Lincoln’s MKZ AWD sedan is one level below the brand’s flagship MKS full-size sedan, which is based on Ford’s Taurus. That is until the Lincoln Continental returns in 2016.
Wanting to give the model more upscale touches and services, Lincoln anointed it as the MKZ Black Label. So what is Black Label? In Lincoln’s words, “It showcases the best Lincoln has to offer through compelling vehicle design, ultra-premium materials and an even higher level of outstanding personal service and experience.” The description goes on to say in part, “Black Label provides another step to creating true aspirational Lincoln vehicles and will be mated to a consistent and integrated service experience from Lincoln and its Black Label dealers.” Read into that what you will but in essence it offers personal ownership privileges and materials versus the competition.
The MKZ with its swept back horizontal grille, gives the sedan a Darth Vader type look. Its slippery smooth flowing exterior lines reek of style with its LED lighting effects and swoopy roofline.
Its interior is posh and quiet with Alcantara head-lining, all attributes you’d expect to find in a luxury sedan. The vertical stack and console are void of knobs as HVAC and audio controls are all slider switches. The transmission shifter too is unique for a luxo sedan as it’s a push button affair with gear selection aligned vertically (P,R,N,D and S). This design is similar to what Dodge and Plymouth used on their cars back in the 60s. As such, it is a clean cockpit.
Then there’s MyLincoln Touch infotainment interface that displays on an 8-inch screen. It was nice (it controls Bluetooth, audio, nav and other functions) but slow to respond at times. And there was a woman’s voice recording that kept annoyingly ask to “Sync,” (voice command system), but we couldn’t figure out how to shut her up. Also had a problem in finding how to shut off the air circulation system. The overall system requires an intense study of the owners’ manual.
Perforated Ganache leather seating is comfy up front with semi supportive lateral cushioning. The back seat, while easy to enter and exit as the rear doors open wide, the cushions are firm and not what you’d expect from a car of this caliber. And legroom is tight when the front seats are racked well rearward.
Trunk space is rated at 15.4 cubic feet and can accommodate one large roll-a-long and more when folding the 60/40 rear seatbacks. Below the cargo floor resides a space saver tire with space around its circumference to stow small items out of view.
MKZ is offered in two trim levels of MKZ and MKZ Hybrid and in FWD and AWD. The latter was tested and needed here in the Snowbelt. Along with that, Lincoln offers three engine choices of: a base 2.0L turbocharged EcoBoost four cylinder (tested) that puts out 240-hp and 270 lb/ft of torque; an optional 3.7L, V6 generating 300-hp and 277 lb/ft of torque; and a 2.0L four with electric motor hybrid that develops a total of 188-hp. This engine is only offered with FWD and CVT transmission while the other two come with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The tested AWD model had EPA mileage ratings of 22 city, 31-highway mpg. It was peppy at low and high rpm ranges and didn’t want for power despite its 3,755-pound curb weight. And for a four cylinder, which are generally noisy in operation, the EcoBoost was relatively quiet both at idle and at highway speeds.
Now here’s a quirk that was discovered. Perhaps there was a problem in the electrically assisted steering, but when making a slight turn either left or right, it felt like the wheels were momentarily locked straight and refused to quickly turn. It was an eerie feeling of instability.
That aside, the standard adjustable suspension did provide a cushioned ride on 19-inch Michelin tires. Eighteen-inch tires would be even better. It’s apparent that the MKZ was designed to go up against the Euro cars from BMW and Benz, but handling is not up to those standards.
Price wise, the MKZ came with a base of $42,485. But when adding Couture paint job ($1,750), Technology Package ($2,260), panoramic sunroof ($2,795), multi-contoured seats ($595), premium THK audio ($995) and delivery of $895, that brought the bottom line to $56,935. At this price you may want to do some cross shopping as there are slew of competitors in this class that are lesser priced for similar content.
To its credit, the MKZ garnered impressive government crash ratings of a full five stars for overall vehicle crash safety; five for driver front crash, four for passenger; three for front seat side crash, five for rear seat; and four for rollover.