Lincoln has officially changed the name of its entry-level luxury sedan from Zephyr to MKZ, and is reintroducing it for 2007 with a new engine, styling tweaks and the availability of all-wheel drive for the first time ever on a Lincoln car.

The new engine is Ford's 3.5-liter V6 rated at 263 horsepower. The MKZ will be its first application in a car, though it will be used in the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX CUVs, as well. The transmission is a six-speed automatic that, if our memory hasn't failed us, is the one developed in conjunction with GM rather than sourced from one of Ford's suppliers.

It's difficult to see the styling tweaks made to the MKZ, but supposedly they're there. The car's interior, perhaps its most polarizing feature (we liked it when we reviewed the Zephyr), remains in tact and can be had with genuine wood, leather and satin nickel trim.

Finally, the MKZ gets all-wheel drive for 2007. Combined with the potent powerplant and a ride tuned for "luxury performance", the new MKZ should be a much better athlete than its short-lived predecessor.

The 2007 Lincoln MKZ starts below the magic $30k mark with a base price of $29,890 for a front-wheel drive model (just $230 more than the base price of the Zephyr) and $31,765 for the all-wheel drive model. It'll hit showrooms in October with a six-year / 70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Lots more pics and Lincoln's press release can be found after the jump.

[Source: Ford]



Press release:

2007 LINCOLN MKZ DEBUTS UNDER $30,000: A FRESH DESIGN, MORE POWER, AND AVAILABLE AWD
The new 2007 Lincoln MKZ is the latest example of Ford's Way Forward commitment to deliver greater value to consumers through straightforward pricing, new features and an extended powertrain warranty.

The new Lincoln MKZ midsize luxury sedan gives customers entry into the Lincoln brand at under $30,000.
Powered by a new fuel-efficient 263 hp 3.5L V-6 engine, the Lincoln MKZ starts at $29,890 for FWD and $31,765 for AWD models, including destination and delivery.
Lincoln MKZ is the brand's first all-wheel drive car and one of four new 2007 Lincoln models entering the marketplace.


DEARBORN, Mich., Sept. 11, 2006 - Lincoln is building on the success of its strong-selling Zephyr mid-size sedan with the introduction of the 2007 Lincoln MKZ – a five-passenger luxury sedan that boasts a refined look, a new, more powerful engine, and the confidence of available all-wheel drive. The new Lincoln MKZ features a starting manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) of $29,890 for front-wheel drive and $31,765 for all-wheel drive models.

"The new Lincoln MKZ is moving Lincoln to a modern vision of American luxury," says Al Giombetti, president, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury. "It enters the market from a position of strength, following the outstanding success of the Zephyr. With the Lincoln MKZ, we're adding great new features and delivering outstanding value that American luxury customers demand."

Since its debut last year, Zephyr has paved the way for the Lincoln MKZ with a solid foundation in customer satisfaction and quality. It achieved the best performance by a Lincoln nameplate ever with its second-in-segment showing in the 2006 JD Power Initial Quality Study. Its hallmark Lincoln craftsmanship was honored with Ward's 2006 Best Premium Interior Car Award. It also has attracted a younger, more diverse customer to Lincoln and helped position the brand for growth. Nearly half of Lincoln Zephyr customers are new to Lincoln.

The Lincoln MKZ presents a refined interpretation of Lincoln's traditional waterfall grille. Its clean lines, new 17-inch machined aluminum wheels, distinctive lighting and chrome accents create a dynamic, uniquely American interpretation of luxury.

The Lincoln MKZ is powered by Ford's new 263 hp 3.5L V-6 engine paired with a fuel-efficient 6-speed automatic transmission. The all-aluminum, four-valve engine features intake variable cam timing, delivering exceptional refinement and more power than comparable V-6 engines from GM, Nissan, Chrysler and Honda. The engine eventually will power one out of five Ford Motor Company vehicles in North America. With the new engine, the Lincoln MKZ chassis has been retuned to deliver a more athletic driving experience.

Rounding out the performance story is newly available all-wheel drive (AWD), a feature that 50 percent of luxury owners say they want on their vehicle. Lincoln MKZ is the first Lincoln car to offer available AWD, a feature not found among many vehicles in its competitive set. The intelligent AWD system on the Lincoln MKZ is specifically tuned for luxury performance, offering confident all-weather driving. It seamlessly delivers torque to all four wheels as needed. Ford Motor Company leads the industry in delivering AWD capability. The company will have 28 vehicles with this technology this year.

Responding to the explosive popularity of MP3 audio players, the Lincoln MKZ features a standard auxiliary audio input jack. Available SIRIUS™ satellite radio helps customers stay connected and in command.

When it arrives in showrooms next month, the Lincoln MKZ will offer Lincoln's no deductible, fully transferable extended powertrain limited warranty of six years or 70,000 miles along with complimentary roadside assistance. It's also expected to have a strong 36-month lease-end residual value of nearly 50 percent when it goes on sale, comparable to recently launched vehicles like the 2007 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.

The Lincoln MKZ is available in a single series, featuring a full complement of standard premium equipment along with select options, making it easy for customers to order.

Key standard features include:
  • New 263 hp 3.5L V-6 with 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Luxurious interior, with genuine wood, leather, and satin nickel trim
  • 17-inch machined and painted aluminum 8-spoke wheels
  • LED tail lamps
  • Dual-zone electronic air temperature control
  • New MP3 audio input jack
  • 10-way power adjustable driver/passenger seat with power lumbar and recline
  • Front Wheel Drive (FWD)
  • Excellent NVH characteristics and unique suspension
  • Heated front seats
  • Driver memory seats and mirrors
Available options include:
  • Intelligent AWD
  • SIRIUS™ satellite radio
  • THX II-Certified ® audio system with 14 speakers, a six-disc player compatible with normal audio, MP3 compressed or text format CDs
  • DVD-based navigation system with a 6.5-inch-wide screen and text-to-speech technology for travel directions aloud in English, Spanish or French. Includes THX II-Certified ® audio system.
  • High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps designed to produce more light, last longer and use less energy than typical incandescent headlamps
  • 17-inch 8-spoke chrome wheels
  • Perforated premium leather cooled front seats
  • Power moonroof
  • Interior satin nickel trim in lieu of wood on doors, console and IP

The 2007 Lincoln MKZ is one of four new models joining the Lincoln showroom this season, along with the all-new Lincoln MKX crossover, the redesigned Navigator and the all-new Navigator L extended length full-size SUV. The next major step in establishing Lincoln as America's luxury brand comes in 2008 with the debut of the Lincoln MKS full-size flagship sedan, based on the concept vehicle first shown at the 2006 North American International Auto Show.