2009 MKZ New Car Test Drive
The Lincoln MKZ is a near-luxury car, a luxurious, midsize sedan that competes with the Cadillac CTS and Acura TL, as well as the Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima. In style and engineering, it's an upscale sibling to the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan.
The MKZ began a new direction for Lincoln: luxury vehicles designed to engage the driver. The MKZ succeeds, managing the difficult trick of delivering a ride that is generally comfortable with handling that makes it interesting and gratifying to drive quickly on a challenging country road.
The MKZ is powered by a strong, 263-hp V6 driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available. And MKZ's major standard equipment compares favorably with the best cars in this class.
For 2008, Lincoln has made several popular options standard, including heated and cooled leather seats, and Sirius Satellite Radio. New standard features include a reverse sensing system and a hands-free, voice-activated communications and entertainment system that Ford calls Sync.
Overall, the MKZ is well rounded. It's suitable for day-to-day commuting even on the Midwest's broken streets, comfy for long-distance cruising on an interstate, and playful during a quick trip along a two-lane road through the mountains. It has plenty of power, but it uses regular fuel and delivers decent gas mileage. Surprisingly, however, the MKZ does not offer electronic stability control.
The MKZ has collected some impressive accolades. Among them: When it was introduced as a 2007 model, it ranked highest in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study for Premium Cars. For two years in a row, industry voters have honored the MKZ with Ward's Premium-Priced Car Interior of the Year award. Its 3.5-liter V6 has been named one of Ward's 10 Best Engines. Its THX II-certified stereo was voted Best Audio by PC Magazine. And its navigation system was ranked No. 1 in J.D. Power's 2007 Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study.
The 2008 Lincoln MKZ comes in one trim level, with either front-wheel drive ($30,790) or all-wheel drive ($32,660).
Standard equipment includes premium leather heated and cooled front seats, dual-zone temperature control, power adjustable front seats, a six-speaker AM/FM stereo with six-CD changer and redundant controls on the steering wheel, Sirius Satellite Radio, a reverse sensing system, cruise control, power windows and door locks with remote entry and a number pad on the door, 17-inch wheels, and a 60/40 split and fold-down rear seat.
New for 2008 is Sync, an industry-exclusive, voice-activated hands-free system that fully integrates mobile phones and media players into the vehicle's audio system, using Bluetooth technology and USB connectivity.
Options include a voice-activated DVD-based navigation system ($1,895), Lincoln's high-power THX II audio system ($995), a power moonroof ($1,200), high-intensity discharge headlights ($495), aluminum interior trim ($195), chrome wheels ($895), an engine-block heater ($35), and daytime running lights ($45).
Safety features that come standard include frontal airbags; side-impact air bags for torso protection; curtain-style head protection airbags for all outboard positions; traction control; and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), which distributes braking force to the tires with the most grip. A tire pressure monitor has also been added for 2008.
The MKZ achieves Acceptable ratings in heavy frontal and side-impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, on a scale of Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor. Some of the MKZ's major competitors have Good ratings in these tests. The MKZ lacks electronic stability control.