• Apr 17, 2009
2010 Lincoln MKZ – Click above for high-res image gallery

Launched in 2006 as the Zephyr, Lincoln's entry-level luxury sedan has undergone quite a few changes over the last three years. Graced with a new name – the MKZ – in 2007, as well as a 3.5-liter V6 and available all-wheel drive, the feature list continued to grow when SYNC and reverse park-assist were added to the MKZ in 2008. Like its Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan brothers, the 2010 MKZ benefits from a significant mid-cycle refresh that Lincoln hopes will make it more competitive in its segment. We recently spent a day with the new MKZ, scrutinizing its revamped exterior design, inspecting its all-new interior and testing out the re-tuned engine and suspension. Read on to see if the sum of the 2010 Lincoln MKZ's parts add up to an improved car.



Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc

Lincoln will be sure to tell you that the previous MKZ was a solid platform to work with, and they wouldn't be alone. J.D. Power gave the MKZ a 2007 "Best in Class" award for initial quality, and Consumer Reports listed it as a Recommended Buy for 2008. That's not to say there wasn't room for improvement. In our review of a 2007 AWD model, we asserted that the MKZ needed to offer dramatically more to set it apart from the Fusion and Milan besides exterior styling, and we found the 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed transmission to be merely satisfactory. Lincoln knew it had to step up its game, and it set a series of goals to improve the overall quality, styling and performance of the MKZ.



The 2010 MKZ is entirely new from A-pillar forward, highlighted by Lincoln's soon-to-be-signature split-wing grille and a subtly revised lower fascia. The design is similar enough to the old car that it won't win or lose any fans, but Lincoln did an admirable job of giving the new MKZ a more modern look. The rear has also been given a refresh with a new decklid, LED taillights and a new lower fascia with large cutouts to better highlight the dual exhaust tips.



However, the most significant update is to the interior. While the previous car's appointments were reasonably competitive, Lincoln has made a concerted effort boost the quality of materials used and improve the overall look of the cabin.



Genuine wood or aluminum is used depending on the trim package, and soft-touch materials make up the entire dash. Cabin noise has been reduced thanks to upgraded sound absorbent material in nearly everything surrounding the cockpit – the windshield, door seals, fenders, pillars, the floor and even the headliner. The instrument panel has been redesigned to have a more three-dimensional, modern look and an optional eight-inch touch-screen display is conveniently positioned higher up on the dash. The bucket seats are now wrapped in premium Bridge of Weir leather and have just the right amount of bolstering. We could easily spend hours inside the MKZ and never feel uncomfortable.



Powertrain options remain the same for 2010, with the MKZ retaining its 3.5-liter, 24-valve V6 engine. Improvements have been made, however, to the transmission to make better use of the 263 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque on tap, including revised gearing and improved shift times. Lincoln claims a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds, compared to 7.7 previously, but the MKZ still doesn't have as much gusto some of its competitors. We were happy with the addition of SelectShift, which is now standard on the six-speed automatic. This author normally doesn't care for any sort of manu-matic option, but the MKZ has one of the best versions he has had the pleasure of using. It engages quickly by simply slotting the shifter to the right, and gearchanges are delivered with minimal lag. We actually used SelectShift a few times on some twisty roads to maintain a gear and were pleasantly surprised at how well the transmission responded.



In the handling department, the 2010 MKZ gets some minor updates, including revised rear suspension geometry and a new variable-assist steering pump. The Sport model, new for 2010, also gets slightly stiffer springs and larger sway bars. We thought the MKZ held its own on the aforementioned twisty roads, although the steering felt too light and over-boosted. The low steering effort felt appropriate at low speeds and while cruising on the freeway, but it was devoid of any feedback while driving with the least bit of enthusiasm.



Lincoln has delivered on its pledge to keep things fresh with the MKZ. The upgraded interior is now more of a contender for best-in-class with its abundance of soft-touch materials and excellent leather seats, and the powertrain offers on-par performance while delivering 18/27 mpg in front-wheel drive form. We wouldn't yet consider the 2010 MKZ a standout among the sea of entry-level luxury sedans, but it will undoubtedly cause potential customers to take a second look, particularly with a price-tag at $34,965 for the front-wheel drive model or $36,855 for the all-wheel drive variant.



Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 76 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does Ford have any intention to offer this in Hybrid trim?
        • 5 Years Ago
        No, I don't believe so. To the poster above, I'm sure there are some people that want all the luxury appointments but are willing to shell out some extra cash to be a little more green (as evidenced by Cadillac's dabbling in hybrids). But I don't think there's enough of a market for it to be worthwhile.
        • 5 Years Ago
        quantum: driving hybrids, or wanting better fuel economy from a luxury car isn't about the cost of fuel. for most buyers i'd say it's about wanting to use as little foreign oil as possible. i'd say there are thousands of buyers in the mid-to-upper $30s that would love to be able to say their Lincoln was a hybrid—it would give them the opportunity to have the logo and brand of their choice, knowing that they're saving fuel in the process. i'm not saying every buyer, but i think everyday there are more and more that would.

        i think as a marketing tool, the car would be a HUGE boon for Lincoln for zero extra development costs. it's as they say, a no-brainer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually I have read that they are testing them in the desert right now. Maybe within the next couple of years....
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Problem is, you get alot less power in the Fusions engine."

        not if you get the Fusion Sport.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The 2010 MKZ is much improved on the interior, and the Sport Package does improve dynamics a bit.

      That aside, I think they got happer with the price. Once quite a value, the MKZ with AWD, Sport App Package, and the Ultimate Package now sits in the low 40s, right where I could have a CTS 3.6DI, a car superior in most any objective way, not to mention the subjectives of more driving fun and better styling.

      For the mid 30s where the entry FWD model with light optioning resides, a Maxima seems more fun, or even an Acura TL FWD (if you can do the styling), etc.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's up with that ugly a$$?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm not particularly sold on either the front OR rear of this car - but that said, I'm also not part of the target market. Does it look 'different?' For sure, although the tail lights kinda remind me of a fifth-generation Honda Prelude on steroids...

      • 5 Years Ago
      looks good but all I can see is a Mazda6 with a wig on
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why don't they put the 3.7l V6 from the Mazda6 in this thing? It's built off the same block, right?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The 3.5 for front drive, 3.7 V6 for iteration 4 Haldex.
        The gearing was made TALLER. 3.33 vs. 3.46 axle ratio
        and the curb weight is up by 100 lbs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because that would mean Ford would have to do something smart...and we cannot have that.

        Lincoln is a dead brand. They make near luxury, rebadges Fords.

        This MKFusion is a joke. The Taurus...20 years ago was a faster, better driving car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      great interior; Ford FTW!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford really are doing an excellent job with Lincoln. The facelift more closely echoes the original concept car - no bad thing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      i would have made the Hybrid drive line standard on this model.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lame, Lame, and LAME!!!

      I'll take a CTS please.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh, those seats are AWEFUL! What are those, racing stripes? And white piping? Foul!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Lovin' the seats. Perhaps you're over 60?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm with Erik -- I don't care for the piping on the seats.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I respectfully couldn't disagree more.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So now all Lincoln cars have the same bland interior and ugly exterior?

      It is true what they say...Lincoln has become a trim level on a Ford...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like it, maybe isn't as representative as a Cadillac, but is the proof of Ford's quality improvement. Maybe in 3 years when the new generation is out we get the car we always wanted to see wearing a Lincoln badge.
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