Name changes are a necessity in the modern automotive industry. The Lincoln Zephyr was launched in late 2005, but it was given a facelift along with a new name "MKZ" in 2007. It shares the same platform as the Ford Fusion and the ill-fated Mercury Milan, as a midsize luxury sedan. Every example has been produced in Mexico at the Hermosillo assembly plant, which was a point of debate in the presidential election. A refresh for the 2017 Lincoln MKZ involved classy styling from the new Continental along with noteworthy interior pleasantries. It is almost enough to call it a new model, so they decided to send one our way for a proper review.
The biggest news is probably Lincoln's first dedicated engine in years. A 3.0-liter version of Ford's EcoBoost V6 was built for Lincoln only, rated at 400 horsepower. But our test model arrived with the classic 2.0 liter EcoBoost four cylinder. It sends 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque to all wheels, which results in a city rating of 20 mpg with 28 on the highway. On the outside, a crease just below the beltline makes for slab-sided doors. The rocker panels rise upwards and the C-pillar forms a triangle, using black trim to give a resemblance of a quarter window. It is a sleek design, but it could use a two-tone motif to make it appear smaller.
Inside the electronics and most trim panels are all new. Automotive connectivity is changing at a fast pace, and so are vehicle controls. The transmission shifter is gone, replaced by a vertical touchpad to the left of the screen. Transmissions have been computer controlled for years so this might seem long overdue. The center console has a pass through near the pedal box which makes a great home for keys and phones. The panoramic roof is a giant sliding glass that moves rearward on rails adjacent to the rear window.
Driving the MKZ is quiet thanks to active noise cancellation, but unfortunately, it can not be disabled. No matter how precise the fake sound is, it adds to interior noise which plays to the subconscious. Yes, it is AWD, but only in low traction situations. Being a mostly FWD car powered by a four-cylinder, acceleration is nothing to write home about. As far as safety and convenience, it has a traction control system to keep the wheels from spinning, but no form of stability control, lane departure, or adaptive cruise are offered on the MKZ Reserve edition. The MSRP tops out at $53,180, which is steep for a car that is strained to reach highway speeds before the end of the on-ramp. If you need a compact luxury cruiser, check out your Lincoln dealers for more information.