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click above image to view high-res pics of the 2007 Lincoln MKZ AWD

This review won't be as long as most since we had the opportunity to test the 2006 Lincoln Zephyr just last year. For 2007, the Zephyr becomes the MKZ (pronounced Em Kay Zee) and gains improvements that should have been present last year when the car debuted. Items like a more powerful 3.5L V6 and all-wheel drive have been added, along with the most mild of tweaks to the front end. So the question that arrived along with our Lincoln MKZ AWD tester is whether or not what's been added for 2007 has improved the car's appeal.

We concluded last year that the Zephyr relied on style to set it apart from its platform mates, the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Where those two less expensive cars are about as different as the old Taurus and Sable were, the Lincoln brand got a car with divergent styling that on the outside is unremarkable and on the inside striking.

We favored the Zephyr's unique interior that used symmetry of lines and deep depressions to good effect. Though some find it garish, we found it interesting and a welcome relief to the flush waterfall designs of so many modern day dashes. Thus, we're pleased that virtually nothing was changed inside the car during its transition from Zephyr to MKZ. The comfy and supportive seats, top-notch nav system (love those digital breadcrumbs!) and excellent sound system return to make the new MKZ an excellent decompression chamber during the commute home.

Likewise, the MKZ's exterior design hasn't changed much at all from the Zephyr's. When the MKZ first debuted, Lincoln did boast about the car's revised front end, but we hardly consider tweaking the lower air intake and adding chrome surrounds to the driving lights a proper revision. The only real change to this car's exterior is the addition of MKZ badging, so if you loved it or loathed it last year, you'll likely feel the same way about it now. We were fond of the Amethyst Clearcoat Metallic paint that coated our tester this time around, though was disturbed to learn while refueling that the gas cap had no where to hang except against the purple paint job.

The main reason we were eager to get this Lincoln back in the Autoblog Garage is the new 3.5L V6 that lies underhood. Replacing the Zephyr's underpowered 3.0L V6 that produced 221 horsepower and 204 ft-lbs. of torque, the new powerplant offers a substantial increase in power -- up to 263 horsepower and 249 ft-lbs. of torque. What's more, the new 3.5L is destined to play a large part in Ford's future powertrain plan, ending up in 20% of Blue Oval-badged vehicles by 2010.

For 2007, however, the new 3.5L V6 engine stands as the primary distinguishing feature between the MKZ and less expensive Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, which are still only available with the 3.0L V6. Whereas it was difficult to argue the Zephyr was nothing more than a pricier Fusion, the MKZ finally offers an exclusive feature.

Unfortunately, we were less impressed with the 3.5L V6 than we expected to be, especially considering that Ward's placed the brand-new mill on its 2007 Top Ten Engines list. Perhaps high expectations skewed our judgment, but the new 3.5L V6 is not a game-changing engine among high-volume V6s. It's powerful, reasonably refined and as efficient as its competition, but doesn't lead the segment in any one area.

The availability of all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic are the other new items available for 2007, though they're also available on the Fusion and Milan. We suspect that the six-speed automatic had something to do with our lackluster reaction to the new engine. While a smooth shifter, the new six-speed lacks any type of manual control. Even though we hate manumatics, it would have been nice to choose and hold our own gears since we often disagreed with the new automatic's gear selection. Often while cruising, a decent jab of the throttle would drop the transmission down only one gear when we were expecting two.

While it's tough to judge the efficacy of the new all-wheel drive system, at least not without a layer of fresh powder, we do note its availability as addressing what's becoming a necessity in this entry-level luxury class. While the additional security of AWD is welcome, the added weight and parasitic loss of power through the extra drivetrain components wasn't. It's true that either AWD or rear-wheel drive are the most popular arrangements in this class, but Ford's CD3 chassis has established itself as one of the better handling front-wheel drive platforms on the market. In fact, the most fun we've had in one of these cars came during our time behind the wheel of the I4 Ford Fusion with a manual transmission. It's nimble handling made up for a lack of grunt, and perhaps that's why the heavier MKZ felt less fun to drive despite its horsepower advantage.

Despite our criticisms, the MKZ is a better car than the Zephyr was with its bigger V6 that clearly casts it as the premium selection in Ford's triumvirate of midsize family sedans. Lincoln's larger concern, however, should be how the MKZ compares to its similarly priced competition in the $30k to $35k range. Dave Thomas at KickingTires.net compiled a list of entry-level luxury sedans that can be had for $35,000 or less, which include an Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chrysler, Subaru, Volvo and a pair of Lexuses. While each offers varying levels of content, luxury and power compared to the MKZ, all are compelling. For that matter, as Thomas points, so is a loaded Ford Fusion V6 AWD at $28,265.

To answer the question we posed at the beginning of this review, yes, the MKZ is a more appealing car then the Zephyr. The problem facing Lincoln is that the standard for this segment keeps rising and its siblings from Ford and Mercury represent a better value. In the end, the MKZ relies on what style it has to charm potential buyers, just like the Zephyr before it. Since style is subjective, it won't be at the top of everyone's list, but those who do choose the Lincoln MKZ will have enough here to hang their head high.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Dave Thomas at KickingTires.com compiled a list of entry-level luxury sedans that can be had for $35,000 or less, which include an Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chrysler, Subaru, Volvo and a pair of Lexuses. While each offers varying levels of content, luxury and power compared to the MKZ, all are compelling. For that matter, as Thomas points, so is a loaded Ford Fusion V6 AWD at $28,265"

      The MKZ does have lots if competitors in the under 35k range. But to get an Audi that has the same features that an MKZ comes with as standard (like the 3.2L V-6) costs alot more. For under 35k in the Audi, you get 200hp, 63 less than in the MKZ. According to Audiusa.com, an Audi A4 3.2L V-6 Quattro starts at $37,640 and the A4 is 10 inches shorter. The same goes for the BMW 3 Series, and the Mercedes C-Class. Of couse the Audi, BMW and Mercedes are much sportier cars than the MKZ. I think the MKZ is more of the ES350 and Avalon competitor. The ES and the Avalon start at about 34k, 4k more and are the same size (length) as the MKZ.
      • 8 Years Ago
      A review of these was just posted at MT http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedan/112_0703_2007_lincoln_mkz .

      My mother has an 01 LS 5 speed... it is a pretty fun car, despite the fact the 5 speed did not come with the V8. Too bad no one wanted a stick Lincoln.
      • 8 Years Ago
      that gauge cluster is HID-E-OUS. it looks like it is out of a 70's vehicle. I like the rest of the interior and exterior. but jeez. they should have been able to come up with something that looks better that that, and still kept in the space allocated. and that cheap plastic surround around the recess. yikes.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Actually cars.com has a comparison feature too and it is quite good. I'm just not going to spam it here. You can compare every feature between every trim level of these cars. Then select tabs of what they Share, what they differ on etc.
      It's very easy to use.

      If you guys just took a second to actually LISTEN to what I was saying, it was about sticker shock clear and simple. I said RDX because I actually TESTED one for a week RECENTLY. It was a recent memory of a roughly $35K vehicle. A much nicer $35K vehicle. Worth the $35K. And yes you can get an AWD RDX for less than the $35K. In real terms, real money etc.

      Lurkers spend way too much time saying oh this is more money yadda yadda. But if you're spending $35K you're gonna spend $37K.
      If you're spending $30K you might not go to $35K. That's a big difference. That's what I was saying. Once you go into the $35K territory it is a different world. this test vehicle (with no moonroof, and no available stability control) was over $35K.

      If any of you actually sat in any of these vehicles and "felt" the difference I think you'd understand what I'm saying. If I had keys to both the RDX and the MKZ and said "Pick, it's free" which would you choose?

      • 8 Years Ago
      Neff listens to Howard. Excellent.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Oh, I forgot, do you have the comparison tool in CDN prices?
      • 8 Years Ago
      #23, hopefully the 3.7L will use regular gasoline to make thouse numbers. I'm sure nowadays people dont want to pay the premium for 91 octane so if a motor can make 275 hp on 87 gasoline, a BIG bonus.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #20 is a douchebag who obviously hasnt looked at Subaru lately.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is more proof that really boring white bread nerds make up 95% of Ford's employees. They make cars as boring as them.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is so weird. How do three publications post about this all at once? It's not like it's a hot model or anything.

      I find it interesting/strange that I liked the exterior and hated the interior and the AB guys were the opposite. The purple is awesome too.
      In the end I had recently tested the Acura RDX and G35x and both of them had almost identical sticker prices to the MKZ AWD. To me that's just insane and put me in a bad mood when testing the MKZ. Every time I scratched my hand on the center console I got irritated, then every time I tried to make a tight turn I got more PO'ed, then...well you get the point.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Richard, that is why I compared the MKZ to the ES350. The MKZ is nearly identical in size to the ES350. The MKZ is not meant to be a sporty handling car like a 3 Series, A4, C-Class and CTS. Even the G35x is a more of a 3 Series competitor becuse it is more of a sports sedan.

      Did I say anywhere in my post that a 2.0L Audi is more fun to drive than an MKZ?? I'm sure it is, and again it is more of the sports sedan type of car. It is smaller than the Lincoln and ES350. The thing that I said was that to get a car with the same features and options that and MKZ has is 37 grand, about a 7 grand difference. Yes, that is alot of money, but like I said, it is better to compare the MKZ to the ES350 so that it would be about 4 grand more.

      The next thing is, how do you get a 1-2 grand difference? The MKZ starts at 29 grand and the ES at 33 grand according to the Lexus website. Even if the MKZ has the AWD which is 31 grand is 2 grand less than the ES.

      The base features on the MKZ and ES are very similar, but I dont think that there is a 4 grand difference between them.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Even though we hate manumatics, it would have been nice to choose and hold our own gears since we often disagreed with the new automatic's gear selection."


      We hate manumatics, but we want one anyway.

      Isn't this a bit like "I meant 'yes while saying 'no' "?
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