We're all in agreement, however, about the improved interior design, especially the Push Button Shift gear selector that makes for a smooth, uncluttered center console. The MKZ will of course be available with SYNC and MyLincoln Touch, which are complemented by a large 10.1-inch LCD instrument cluster and 8-inch center touchscreen. The interior is covered wall-to-wall in leather, real wood trim and metal accents, and Active Noise Control, which cancels out offending audibles, is standard equipment. Optional is a unique 15.2-foot Retractable Panoramic Roof that takes sunroofs to the extreme.
Where the 2013 MKZ sets itself apart most from rivals are its suite of driving and safety technologies.
Three powertrains will be available for the MKZ at launch. Standard is a turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine producing 240 horsepower (on premium fuel) and 270 lb-ft of torque while returning 22 mpg city / 33 mpg highway. More power is available via a 3.7-liter V6 generating 300 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, which returns 18 mpg city / 26 mpg hwy. The MKZ Hybrid is also back offering a combined output of 188 hp from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder and electric drivetrain. EPA estimates aren't available for the MKZ Hybrid, but Lincoln says it should remain America's most fuel-efficient premium sedan. All-wheel drive is an option for both non-hybrid models, which also receive six-speed automatic transmissions and paddle shifters, while the MKZ Hybrid is front-wheel-drive only with a CVT.
Where the 2013 MKZ will set itself apart most from rivals are its suite of driving and safety technologies. First up is Lincoln Drive Control, which effectively coordinates every system on the car to continually refine the ride and handling in real time. The most interesting of these systems is the Continually Controlled Damping suspension system, which offers normal, comfort and sport modes and activately adjusts the dampers up to 50 times per second.
As for safety, the MKZ may set a new benchmark for the number of sensors onboard. There's a mono-vision camera integrated into the rearview mirror to read lane markers on the road, radar sensors for the adaptive cruise control and active Collision Warning with Brake Support, and more short-range wide-angle radar sensors for help with parking and backing up. The MKZ will also class-exclusive inflatable second-row seatbelts that compliment the eight airbags located elsewhere around the vehicle.
Ford marketing chief James Farley has made the restoration of Lincoln a personal mission.
Lincoln has a tough slog ahead to compete for real in the luxury sedan category. Ford marketing chief James Farley has made the restoration of Lincoln a personal mission. While the MKZ does show promise as the most legit offering from Lincoln in many years, Farley is also counting on a new brand of service to get the job done.
Lincoln will be launching a 24/7 live concierge on its website later this year. The live help is meant to give the Internet shopper the easiest experience of any car brand. Tell the concierge what you want to see, such as competitive pricing or specs, and he or she will put it on your screen. No navigating the website necessary. All the information, including the configured car assembled for the shopper during the session gets saved.
Lincoln will be launching a 24/7 live concierge on its website later this year.
It is part of Farley's plan to differentiate the Lincoln shopping experience from the competition. He compares his plan to how five-star boutique hotels have differentiated themselves from chain hotels. No doubt luxury shoppers appreciate added layers of personalized service, but they also are very brand conscious, and it will take years of getting everything right to put Lincoln on equal footing with the likes of Mercedes-Benz or even cross-town rival Cadillac.
We're eager to see the 2013 Lincoln MKZ in person at the New York Auto Show this week, so until we can bring you our own in-person live shots, take a look at the gallery above and scroll down for Lincoln's official press release.
The New MKZ: Lincoln's Future Begins
NEW YORK, April 2, 2012 – The all-new Lincoln MKZ makes its debut at the New York International Auto Show, marking a key milestone in Lincoln's reinvention.
"The new Lincoln MKZ represents the future of Lincoln in both style and substance," said Jim Farley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales and Service. "It is proof of our commitment to deliver a new breed of Lincolns for a new generation of Lincoln clients – motor cars that are distinctive, elegant, full of technology and a delight to own."
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ enters the midsize luxury segment later this year.
> It is the first Lincoln created by a dedicated team in its new Lincoln Design Studio
> With a sweeping profile, MKZ incorporates one of the world's widest-opening retractable glass roofs
> Lincoln Drive Control offered as an intelligent system that delivers a refined ride and engaging driving dynamics. Standard Lincoln Drive Control intuitively integrates multiple systems (engine, transmission, body and chassis) to deliver totally new Lincoln driving quality
> Innovations include a distinct Push Button Shift gear selector creates flowing and architectural center console design
> A quiet, well-appointed interior is provided by standard Active Noise Control, genuine wood trim, full LCD instrumentation, heated front seats and SYNC® with MyLincoln Touch™
> MKZ is offered with a choice of three powerful, efficient powertrains, including a next-generation hybrid expected to ensure the MKZ remains America's most fuel-efficient premium sedan
> Class-exclusive inflatable rear safety belts that supplement eight standard airbags are available
Camera- and Radar-Based Driving Aids
The new Lincoln MKZ offers the Lane Keeping System, a suite of advanced driving aids that helps drivers avoid drifting from their lane due to distraction or fatigue. Consisting of Lane Keeping Aid, Lane Keeping Alert and Driver Assist, the Lane Keeping System utilizes a mono-vision camera integrated into the rearview mirror to read the lane markers ahead. For a more complete description of the Lane Keeping System, click HYPERLINK "http://media.lincoln.com/images/10031/13MKZ_Lane_Keeping.pdf" here.
Available radar-based (ultrasonic) driving aids further enhance the driving experience. Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support each use a long-range radar system that scans in front of the vehicle, automatically adjusting to traffic speed and providing a visual and audible alert when a potential front end collision is detected.
Active park assist, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert use multiple short-range wide-angle radar sensors. Each function provides a distinct benefit, ranging from making parallel parking easier to warning of oncoming vehicles while backing out of a parking space.
SYNC with MyLincoln Touch
SYNC with MyLincoln Touch is standard in the new MKZ. The combined system makes it easier to use the entertainment, climate and available navigation features as well as devices brought into the car (e.g., phones, PDA, MP3 players). Twin five-way controls on the steering wheel manage essential systems, and many functions can be voice-activated via SYNC.
Standard SYNC Services make turn-by-turn directions available via one-button push and simple voice commands. Continually improving voice recognition software learns user voices, improving the efficiency of voice commands.
MKZ Dynamic Driving Technologies
The new MKZ offers Lincoln Drive Control as standard. Lincoln Drive Control is an automatic system that delivers an ideal balance of a smooth ride with confident handling as it intuitively responds to driver commands and the road, making the 2013 model the most refined and engaging MKZ ever.
Always on, Lincoln Drive Control orchestrates the performance of the Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension, electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), engine, transmission, Active Noise Control (ANC), traction control and stability control systems.
The result is an unsurpassed combination of refined ride and engaging driving dynamics. CCD offers three modes (Sport/Normal/Comfort) that are accessible using MyLincoln Touch. Selecting "Sport" on the Push Button Shift gear selector enables a decidedly more sporty driving experience.
CCD contributes to Lincoln Drive Control's transparent action by monitoring the car's suspension settings up to 500 times per second. The real-time system adjusts the suspension up to 50 times per second to deliver more controlled handling with a smoother ride. CCD augments a highly developed chassis that includes a refined strut front suspension and an all new integral link rear suspension.
The new MKZ is the only sedan in its class to include Continuously Controlled Damping and Active Noise Control as standard equipment.
MKZ Engines, Transmissions and Drive Systems
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ offers three distinct powertrains. The standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost delivers the performance of a traditional V6 along with expected segment-leading fuel economy that is at least 3 mpg better than the closest competitor. This engine delivers a projected 20-percent increase in highway fuel economy versus the 2012 MKZ.
Emphasizing performance and efficiency, the optional 3.7-liter V6 produces significantly more power (37 horsepower and 28 lb.-ft. of torque) than the previous MKZ V6 while improving fuel economy approximately 5 percent.
Maximizing fuel efficiency, the optional 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain is expected to enable the 2013 MKZ Hybrid to remain North America's most fuel-efficient premium sedan. The 2012 MKZ Hybrid is rated at 41 city mpg, 36 highway mpg.
Non-hybrid models utilize a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel add to the performance driving experience of the MKZ.
2.0- and 3.7-liter gasoline engines are equipped with six-speed automatic transmission; 2.0-liter Hybrid is equipped with a continuously variable transmission. Horsepower, torque and fuel economy figures all are projected, not certified.
Improving grip on slippery roads, the available all-wheel-drive (AWD) system anticipates and adjusts the power delivery to the front and rear axles in as little as 16 milliseconds, faster than the blink of an eye.
The new MKZ is the only sedan in its class to offer inflatable second-row outboard seat belts. Rear-seat passengers – often children or mature passengers – can be more vulnerable to head, chest and neck injuries. The available inflatable second-row, outboard seat belts spread impact forces across more than five times the area of conventional belts, reducing pressure on the chest while helping to control head and neck motion and helping reduce the risk of injuries.
Retractable Panoramic Roof
The Retractable Panoramic Roof is a new signature feature for Lincoln. The 15.2-square-foot glass panel offers one of the largest openings available on any current sedan. The design maintains the structural strength of a steel-roof vehicle.
Nearly identical to the MKZ Concept shown at the North American International Auto Show in January, the production 2013 Lincoln MKZ embodies a design language that is subtly distinctive.
"We call it elegant simplicity," said Max Wolff, Lincoln Design director. "We wanted the new MKZ to be inviting and approachable. We moved away from traditional luxury cues and complex designs. We came up with something warm that is rich, yet still intentionally restrained."
A sweeping roofline defines the new luxury sedan's profile. The steeply raked windshield and lengthened backlight make for a sleeker and more flowing appearance that is 10 percent more aerodynamic than the model it replaces. "The MKZ shape is a vision completed with just a few strokes," said Wolff.
Although strikingly modern, the design retains classic Lincoln design elements including a more refined interpretation of the split-wing grille, first seen on the 1938 Lincoln-Zephyr.
Rearview mirrors stand on door-mounted, sculpted pedestals. This fitment enables the front door glass to extend farther forward to improve visibility and to allow even more light into the interior.
The crafted headlamp assemblies include bright, energy-efficient LED lighting. The front headlights turn in sync with the steering wheel, providing enhanced visibility. At the rear, LED technology enabled a thin, distinctive full-width taillamp graphic.
Design teams created an inviting interior featuring bold architectural elements, rich natural materials and fine details.
"The exterior's front graphic is repeated in the dramatic sweep of the new instrument panel, helping tie the interior to the exterior in a harmonious manner. These flowing forms – along with the open center console – create a comfortable and functional interior that particularly appeals to younger, more diverse drivers we believe will now consider Lincoln," said Wolff.
Innovation and technology abound inside the new MKZ. Replacing the traditional mechanical transmission shift lever is a contemporary five-button interface. The individual buttons of Push Button Shift engage Park, Neutral, Reverse, and forward gears in two modes, Drive and Sport.
Push Button Shift gave designers freedom to create a sculptural multi-level center console with more functional storage areas.
Positioned ahead of the driver, the full-color 10.1-inch LCD instrument cluster operates with the latest version of SYNC with MyLincoln Touch. The all-new design combines dimensional indicator rings framing a brilliant and reconfigurable Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD. An equally critical component of MyLincoln Touch is the nearly flush-mounted center 8-inch LCD touch screen that displays information clearly in easy-to-reference color-keyed quadrants.
Premium-grade, supple leather covers all seating surfaces. Responsibly harvested wood and metal-toned surfaces create a luxurious and comfortable interior space.
Standard luxury amenities include an 11-speaker audiophile entertainment system and cabin air filtration, plus heated front seats (with the driver's featuring 10-way power controls), remote start capabilities and Active Noise Control.
To make the MKZ exceptionally quiet, ANC electronically targets frequencies and reduces their intensity. To improve the refinement of the driving experience, other frequencies are subtly enhanced.
The available THX® II Certified Car Audio System is a Lincoln-exclusive that features 700-watts, 14-channels and 14-speakers. THX audio engineers spent more than 200 hours custom tuning the THX-certified equipment to the new MKZ's interior. The result delivers home-theater surround sound to the road.
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Lincoln is the luxury automotive brand for Ford Motor Company, committed to becoming a world-class luxury brand with compelling vehicles and an exceptional ownership experience to match. Lincoln will introduce seven new and significantly refreshed models in the next three years. For all the latest information, please visit Lincoln at facebook.com/lincoln, media.lincoln.com or HYPERLINK "http://www.lincoln.com" www.lincoln.com.