Lincoln's foray into the entry level luxury sedan market has gone through several changes over the past few years, starting with the introduction of the Zephyr in 2006 and evolving into the MKZ in 2007. In addition to the name change, Lincoln replaced the 3.0L V6 with a 3.5L unit, added a 6-speed automatic and provided the option of AWD. Now for 2010, Lincoln has given the MKZ a substantial refresh to keep pace in one of the most competitive segments. Follow the jump to see what's new for the MKZ, and check out our high-res image galleries below of official and live shots taken when we had a chance to preview the car in person last week.
Live photos copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.
The most notable changes are to the exterior design, which now carries over styling elements from the MKS. The entire front end has been altered and features Lincoln's split-wing grille that flows into thinner headlights, giving the MKZ a more aggressive and modern appearance. The rear end has also been given a makeover, featuring a new decklid and wider, thinner LED taillights. Standard are 17-inch aluminum wheels, with chrome coming as an option as well as 18-inch polished wheels that come as part of the Sport Appearance Package.
The MKZ's interior also gets a refresh with a focus on high quality materials that's highlighted by new genuine aluminum and wood trim and an all-new instrument panel with a next generation voice-activated navigation system. The seats are now wrapped in high quality Bridge of Weir leather and are available in perforated suede. Other interior changes include new door trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood inserts.
In an effort to separate itself from the competition, Lincoln also focused on providing a high level of standard technology features. The Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert, SYNC, and adaptive HID headlights are all exclusive to the entry level luxury sedan segment. The MKZ also features real-time traffic and weather data via SIRUIS Travel Link, a reverse camera system, and a premium THX II sound system with 14 speakers and a 10BG hard drive.
The 3.5L Duratec V6 carries over unchanged from the previous model. We found it to be efficient and capable in our test of the 2007 MKZ, although not a class-leader by any means. Part of our lack of satisfaction with the powertrain was due to the 6-speed automatic transmission that lacked any manual control. Fortunately, this option has been added for 2010 with the new SelectShift transmission. The powertrain is also now more efficient, dropping the 0-60 mph time from 7.7 to 7.1 seconds. All-wheel-drive remains an option, although it has been retuned for better traction and less noise.
The MKZ suspension received a few minor changes, as well. The position of the rear lower control arms have been changed for improved handling characteristics, and the steering pump has been altered to provide better response and less effort at low speeds. For the AWD system, the suspension has been tuned for more neutral handling in corners.
Check out the Lincoln's official press release below, as well our galleries full of high-res official and live images taken of the new 2010 MKZ.
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 19, 2008 – Customers who have come to equate Lincoln with elegant, modern design, unparalleled comfort, unrivaled features and top quality have still more reason to favor the brand: the new 2010 Lincoln MKZ mid-size sedan.
"The new MKZ improves on the success of the current vehicle with Lincoln's new signature look, appointments that amplify and expand the Lincoln portfolio and a faster, more refined powertrain," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas.
New for 2010, the MKZ features a new sport version with special sport suspension tuning with stiffer springs and larger stabilizer bars, 18-inch Euroflange polished wheels, unique grille, darkened headlamps, a decklid MKZ badge with a red "Z" and an interior with contrasting piping and unique appliqués.
The new Lincoln MKZ also offers segment-exclusive features, including first-in-class Blind Spot Information System (BLIS™) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA), which makes navigating traffic and parking lots safer and easier.
BLIS tracks vehicles in the blind-spot zones on either side of the vehicle using two multiple-beam radar modules behind the rear fenders. Indicator lights in the outside rear-view mirror on both sides of the vehicle warn the driver when a vehicle enters the defined blind-spot zone, extending from the side mirror to 10 feet behind the vehicle and 10 feet away from the vehicle.
CTA uses the BLIS radar sensors to alert the driver of approaching traffic while in reverse and backing out of a parking spot. The CTA tracks up to 65 feet on either side of the vehicle and warns the driver through both audible and visual alerts.
In addition to this new technology for mid-size sedans, MKZ offers SYNC, Next-Generation Voice-Activated Navigation, keyless entry, Easy Fuel™ capless fuel filler, THX-branded audio¬ and adaptive headlamps.
The new MKZ also features Lincoln signature design elements, including the split-wing grille and thinner wraparound head lamps for a wider, sportier look. Its chamfered front fascia mirrors the MKS, with a sculpted hood and ridges flowing into the A-pillar. In the rear, which features a new decklid, LED taillamps accentuate the width of the car, separated by the Lincoln star.
The Lincoln MKZ's presence is enhanced by 17-inch aluminum wheels, available 17-inch chrome wheels, and available 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, which are included in the Sport Appearance Package with sport-tuned suspension.
Inside, MKZ's cabin reflects and even more upscale look, featuring more chrome, genuine aluminum and wood depending on the trim package, an all-new instrument panel, detailed touches including new welcome lighting, chimes, tuxedo stitching on luxury leather seats and Bridge of Weir leather.
The world-renowned luxury leather from Scotland, pioneered on the classic Lincoln Continental Mark II and used on the MKS, wraps the MKZ seats. The MKZ leather is unembossed, allowing the natural beauty and character of the grain to shine through.
The leather is milled for up to 12 hours to ensure a buttery soft hand, and Bridge of Weir uses a chromium-free tanning process, which makes it easier to recycle.
"We've increased the luxury feel and improved on what was already a great interior," said Peter Horbury, executive director of Design, The Americas. "We have a new interior theme with all-new primary touchpoints, complemented by new features and technologies that make the 2010 Lincoln MKZ stand out in the competitive mid-size segment."
Additions or improvements to the 2010 Lincoln MKZ interior include:
• Armrest clamshell storage
• New instrument cluster layout with center speedometer
• New door trim with 360-degree door handles
• Redesigned center stack with high-mounted, Next-Generation Navigation system
• Leather-wrapped steering wheel with real wood insert
• Available perforated suede seat style
• Interior schemes include Dark Charcoal or Steel Gray with Swirl Walnut accents, or Light Camel with Olive Ash wood accents
Technology and information at your fingertips
The new Lincoln MKZ is more than just a pretty face and striking new interior. New technology features help Lincoln's new mid-size sedan stand out, too. They include:
• SYNC: The voice-activated hands-free in-car communication and entertainment system developed by Ford and Microsoft. The system fully integrates most Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital media players, providing customers hands-free cell phone and music selection capabilities – plus new 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report provided with no monthly fees.
o 911 Assist: When a phone is properly paired, turned on and connected to SYNC, the system is ready to assist in placing a call directly to a local 911 emergency operator in the event of an air bag-deploying accident. The key advantage of SYNC 911 Assist is speed, as calls are placed directly to local 911 operators.
o Vehicle Health Report (VHR): SYNC gathers relevant information from the major vehicle control modules and packages diagnostic data into a usable format in a matter of minutes. That data packet is sent to Ford via an 800-number automatically dialed using the customer's paired and operable mobile phone.
• Voice-Activated Navigation, which integrates several functions including voice recognition destination entry, climate control and SIRIUS satellite radio into one easy-to-use system, displaying them on an 8-inch touch-screen display. The navigation system's text-to-speech function calls out street names while in route to a destination and reads incoming text messages when the system is linked to SYNC. The integrated DVD player is capable of reading CD-Audio, MP3 CDs, DVD, DVD-Audio and DVD-ROM (for digital map updates). A music jukebox function stores more than 150 hours of music. The screen even can be customized with personal photos.
• SIRIUS® Travel Link™, an industry-leading technology that, when combined with the voice-activated navigation system will provide users with real-time traffic data with accident and incident information, coast-to-coast weather data including current conditions and five-day forecasts, and fuel price information for over 120,000 gas stations.
Travel Link also offers sports scores and schedules and a listing of more than 4,500 movie theaters with movie times, theater addresses, movie synopses and more.
• Reverse Camera System mounts a small camera on the decklid that is activated when the Lincoln MKZ is shifted into reverse, giving the driver a clear view behind the vehicle.
The video image is displayed in the optional navigation screen on Lincoln MKZs equipped with that option or in the self-dimming rearview mirror vehicles without navigation.
• Ambient Lighting System is displayed around the footwells, cup holders, door map pockets, door release handles, door and instrument accents and scuff plates – plus special "Welcome" and "Farewell" sequential lighting.
• THX II Premium Certified Audio System with 5.1 Surround Sound, which is provided by a 12-channel amplifier that delivers 600 watts to 14 strategically placed speakers, including two subwoofers. A center channel speaker array features THX Slot Speaker™ technology, which allows for a wider sound image and better control of how music distributed throughout the vehicle's acoustically engineered cabin. In addition, the system features a 10 GB hard drive jukebox, allowing Lincoln owners to store up to 2,400 of their favorite music tracks.
Other features for the 2010 Lincoln MKZ include:
• Rain-sensing wipers, which detect moisture on the windshield and are activated.
• A new cabin air filter, which removes respiratory irritants and toxins caused by traffic and industrial pollution. Additionally, the air filter protects the HVAC/climate control system by blocking water and moisture.
• Segment-exclusive Adaptive HID headlamps, which rotate according to speed and steering inputs to allow greater visibility around turns
• SOS Post Crash Alert, which activates the horn, emergency flashers, automatically unlocks doors and turns on the interior/puddle lamps when an air bag is deployed. The system activates the emergency flashers when a spinout is detected.
Faster engine performance, strong fuel economy
The award-winning 3.5-liter V-6 Duratec engine powers the 2010 Lincoln MKZ, delivering 263 horsepower and 249 pounds-feet of torque. The 3.5-liter uses a compact, lightweight dual-overhead cam valvetrain for peak power and smooth operation at high RPMs.
This engine also incorporates intake variable cam timing to optimize valve timing for a smooth idle and an impressive broad torque curve with good power.
The six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, which is front-wheel drive with all-wheel drive availability, is standard on the 2010 Lincoln MKZ. Powertrain performance is improved dramatically, with 0-60 mph times dropping from 7.7 to 7.1 seconds.
The engine – and the MKZ itself – is quieter. Every piece of sound packing was redone.
"The customer definitely should notice how quiet the new MKZ is," said Chief Engineer J.D. Shanahan. "That's important – especially in the luxury sedan buyers who perceive that quietness equates to quality."
The MKZ engineering team also concentrated on the engine mount subsystem, finding the sound that balances sportiness and luxury, said Matt Hettenhouse, powertrain team leader.
A high 10.3:1 compression ratio and aluminum cylinder heads designed for high air flow and optimized combustion help complete the package, supporting the engine's ability to deliver great performance and fuel economy, along with low emissions.
Unique to the 2010 Lincoln MKZ are re-engineered resonators on the air-induction system. "They deliver the powerful, refined sound Lincoln MKZ customers expect," Hettenhouse said.
The six-speed transmission allows for lower early gears for better acceleration and taller high gears for better highway mileage. Downshifts are locked out to protect the engine from over-revving. The "enhanced overdrive cancel" mode locks out the fifth and sixth gears, allows shifts at higher speed for more engine braking and downshifts for "grade assist" functionality.
Unique tuning, too
The 2010 Lincoln MKZ was completely revised and uniquely tuned for ride comfort.
The team changed the rear suspension in the lower control arm control point to move the roll center closer to the center of gravity, which improved the ride-handling characteristics. A hydraulic variable-flow steering pump changes the flow rate at lower speeds to give better response, improving the turning circle and easier parking efforts.
The Lincoln MKZ's available all-wheel drive (AWD) system has been retuned for better traction and lower noise, vibration and harshness. The system uses an electro-mechanical clutch and employs two basic modes of torque transfer – pre-emptive torque (before wheel slip) and slip-control torque (after wheel slip). This dual system gives the driver confidence in any situation, while the suspension has been specially tuned to be more neutral when cornering.
"When the Lincoln MKZ accelerates, even lightly, from a stop on any surface – dry pavement, wet pavement, sand, gravel, ice, mud – pre-emptive torque is transferred to the rear wheels," said Jim Fritz, AWD product development engineer. "As an added measure to control front wheel slip on slippery surfaces, slip control torque is added to equalize front and rear wheel speeds."
The AWD system works in harmony with brake traction control to deliver more confidence to Lincoln MKZ customers. Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic stability control keeps drivers in command as well.
"The driving experience has been improved, delivering a better ride and vehicle control," Shanahan said. "Ride enhancements, a new sport package, new technologies, the signature Lincoln design and a strong quality story help the new 2010 Lincoln MKZ set a new standard in mid-size luxury sedans."
The 2010 Lincoln MKZ is built at Ford's Hermosillo (Mexico) Stamping and Assembly Plant and will be in dealer showrooms in spring 2009.