2006 Zephyr New Car Test Drive
The all-new Lincoln Zephyr is a near-luxury sedan that makes Lincoln-grade luxury and styling affordable to more people than ever. It's a welcome addition to the Lincoln lineup, as Lincoln's sustained focus on large luxury cars and SUVs has left the brand conspicuously absent from the highly competitive near-luxury segment.
With its youthful appearance and tidy packaging, the Zephyr provides some balance to the other vehicles in the Lincoln showroom. This newcomer also adds an offering with a distinctly American character to the near-luxury segment, which has been dominated by sporty imports for decades.
With a base price of less than $30,000, the Zephyr enters 2006 as the brand's entry-level model. Based on the proven front-wheel-drive mechanicals of the Mazda6, Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, the Zephyr offers a smooth ride, a spacious interior and bold new styling that is certain to be echoed on future Lincoln products. Furthermore, the price undercuts that of most of its near-luxury competitors.
Zephyr's appeal lies in its combination of style, interior comfort and price. While it costs several thousand dollars more than the aforementioned sedans with which it shares much of its underpinnings, the Zephyr adds value by way of premium materials, a quiet, smooth ride, high feature content and impressive refinement.
Inside and out, it feels very much as a Lincoln should, and thus should appeal to folks who are attracted to Lincoln but, until now, haven't been able to afford one.
The 2006 Lincoln Zephyr ($28,995) is offered in a single trim level, with a 220-hp V6 engine, front-wheel drive, and a six-speed automatic transmission.
Its long list of standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, a six-speaker sound system with in-dash six-disc CD player, cruise control, leather upholstery, 10-way power driver and front passenger bucket seats with heating feature, dual-zone climate control and genuine wood trim.
Options include a THX II Audiophile sound system ($995), a touch-screen DVD-based navigation system ($2,495), which includes the THX sound system, a power sunroof ($1,200), cooled front seats ($495), which includes perforated leather upholstery, Xenon HID headlights ($495), and chrome aluminum wheels ($895).
Active safety features include anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and traction control. Passive safety features include front seat belts with pretensioners and load-limiters, dual front air bags, front side seat-mounted torso air bags, front- and rear-seat curtain air bags and an inertia-based fuel cutoff switch that stops the flow of fuel in the event of a serious accident to prevent fuel spills and fires.