2010 Lincoln MKZ: Entry-Luxury
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
When Henry M. Leland founded Lincoln Motor Car Works in 1917 and named it after his longtime hero Abraham Lincoln, he sought to create a luxury automobile. Ford purchased the company in 1922, and Leland and Henry Ford continued the practice of building luxury cars for the public under the Lincoln badge.
But neither man could have envisioned the niche, “entry-luxury”, and neither could have foreseen that the Lincoln MKZ fits the niche perfectly.
The Lincoln MKZ, got its start as the Lincoln Zephyr in 2005, a mid-size entry-luxury car built on the same platform as the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Mazda 6, but utilizing unique fascias and a pure-Lincoln interior.
In 2007, Zephyr received a makeover and became the MKZ, pronounced: Mark-Zee. That name officially became all initials, pronounced Em-Kay-Zee the following year.
In 2010, the refreshed MKZ received a new, chamfered front fascia with a sculpted hood and ridges flowing into the A-pillar. Lincoln has taken its signature split-wing grille and added thinner wraparound headlamps to create a wider, sportier look. The rear features a new decklid with wider LED taillamps, accentuating the width of the car. The 2010 MKZ also gets increased performance, a more refined interior, upscale electronics and a sport suspension.
Lincoln’s design elements are put into play with a unitized welded steel body built at its Hermosillo, Mexico Stamping and Assembly Plant. MKZ measures 189.8 inches long, 72.2 inches wide and 56.9 inches high on a 107.4-inch wheelbase, weighing in at a stable 3598 pounds with weight distribution of 61/39 (front/rear). Exterior enhancements include chrome door handles, dual chrome-tipped exhaust and bright-bezel fog lamps.
MKZ gets its power from a 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6 engine built at Ford’s Lima, Ohio Engine Plant. The engine system puts out 263hp and 249 lbs-ft of torque and MKZs are available in both front wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations mated to a 6-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission. EPA rated at 18/27 for FWD and 17/24 for AWD, my test vehicle averaged 19.1mpg average over a week of mixed-use driving.
The 3.5 delivers reliable acceleration in all ranges and while the manufacturer says the MKZ will sprint from zero to 60mph in 7.1, my test ride, tuned just as one you would drive off the lot, was able to make the dash in 7.2 seconds, en route to a 15.6-second quarter-mile.
I found handling to be secure and confident with no yaw, and the all-wheel-drive system provided solid traction and dissuaded torque steer and understeer. On a local autocross course, there was some top-wobble on quick hairpins, but the power rack and pinion steering was nimble and responsive, and cornering was precise for the class. The independent short-and long-arm front suspension and multilink fully independent rear suspension were not very forgiving in sport mode. Every road imperfection was felt … a plus if you are driving on the track, but defeating in a luxury sedan. Acute engine and road noise exceeded cabin expectations and braking was a bit soft, but otherwise, MKZ delivered a fun driving experience.
The plush interior has been upscaled with genuine aluminum and wood, an all-new center-stack instrument panel, new welcome lighting, chimes, tuxedo stitching on luxury leather seats and Bridge of Weir leather. With seating for five, the cabin provides 38.7 inches of front headroom with 37.8 in row two, 42.3 inches of leg room for the driver and passenger with 36.7 inches for second-row travelers, and shoulder room of 57.2 and 55.8.
Interior accouterments include manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel, dual front zone air conditioning, auto climate control, cabin air filter to remove respiratory irritants and toxins caused by traffic and industrial pollution, cruise control, keyless entry, power locks, memory mirrors, power driver and passenger mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, heated driver and passenger seats, driver lumbar, power driver seat with memory, power passenger seat, rear seat pass-through, steering wheel controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel, variable speed intermittent wipers and 9-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with satellite radio.
Safety is attended to through an energy-absorbing steering wheel, dual stage air bags for driver and front passenger, Enhanced Occupant Classification System, restraint control module electronic stability control, ABS brakes, SecuriLock® passive anti-theft system, anti-theft perimeter alarm, S.O.S post crash alert, tire pressure monitoring system and brake actuated traction control.
Base priced at $36,005, the 2010 MKZ, in sharp Tuxedo Black and Black interior, with an AWD configuration, invoices at $33,223 plus destination charges of $850. My test MKZ was tricked out with a series of upgrades, most of which were lumped together in the Rapid Spec 103A package for $5,595, and which included blind-spot alert, cross-traffic alert, navigation system with voice recognition, rearview camera, parking sensors, THX sound system, 10GB music hard drive, leather-wrapped steering wheel and power sunroof. The other addition was the sport appearance package for $795 that included unique aluminum exterior trim, sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch polished alloy wheels. That put the price-as-tested sticker at $40,463, but rebates, discounts and incentives abound, so check out your local dealer.
The 2010 Lincoln MKZ: it’s more than the two Henrys envisioned 88 years ago.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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