2017 Lincoln MKZ

Test Drive: 2017 Lincoln MKZ

Let’s be honest: Lincoln is pretty much a handful of glorified Fords. Are they worth the premium price? Not as high as they are. But a car not worth its price is fairly common; it’s not an exclusivity of this American brand. After getting my hands on the crossover and SUV offerings from the luxury automaker, I had yet to find a model I truly enjoyed. Not that they don’t do a good job, they just feel very bland. They do a good job at being what they are: soulless, premium vehicles.

Then, Lincoln shoves a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 under the hood of their mid-size sedan and it takes on a completely different personality. Finally, a Lincoln that makes you feel something. A little tingling sensation in your gut that lets you know this isn’t just another luxury car that sticks to a quiet, comfortable, but mostly boring luxury image: the premium price could finally also come with an actual driving experience.

The 3.0L twin-turbo V6 is rated at 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. Yes. You read that correctly. This compact graphite iron block — I think compact graphite iron sounds ultra-fancy — has turned the new MKZ into one of the most powerful sedans on the market.

Thankfully, all the fun hasn’t been sucked out of driving, despite the six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission; this gearbox is responsive enough to not entirely impair the driving experience. It allows the driver to go between a pinky-high, elegant driving style to something a little more spirited that you wouldn’t introduce to your parents. And for even more convenience, this version is offered with the all-wheel drive, which adds some grip and makes it all-season friendly.

With regards to the powertrain, the only bone I have to pick with Lincoln is this gawd-awful gear selector. Lincoln has somehow decided that ordinary gear levers were overrated and they should reinvent things by turning what I think is part of what makes a car, a car, into a series of push-buttons integrated into the console design. Hold on, let me press the car into Sports mode; has anyone ever dreamed of saying that—ever? It’s been a consistent beef I’ve had with the lineup. Some people refer to it as elegant; I call it soul-sucking. The only purpose this seems to serve is to free up some space for the cupholders. And no amount of pool-diving, dog-owning and charmingly-grinning Matthew McConaughey will sell me on it.

This year, Lincoln introduced a brand-new design on their third-generation mid-size MKZ. Out goes the winged front grille and in comes elegant mesh and European styling. Everyone I have discussed this with compares the design to what Jaguar is currently doing, or even Audi. It’s seems to be a thing in current American automobile design: they all remind us of something else. Personally, I see it as a hybrid of both Jag and Audi. Good? Bad? It works for me.

In truth, it now looks a little more generic; the huge wing-like grille stood out a lot more. But if we’re going to be candid, when buying into the mid-luxury segment, standing out isn’t exactly part of the deal. Which isn’t exactly a bad thing either if you plan on enjoying those 400 ponies: nobody will suspect what this beauty is capable of. This is stealth luxury at its finest!

The 2017 Lincoln MKZ is a behemoth; the top of the hood reaches all the way up to my thigh, which is no small feat considering I am pretty tall. It feels as though the required length to make the MKZ worthy of its name — close to a staggering five meters — had to be balanced in height to avoid returning to its former boat-like silhouette. Where does the mid-size end and the full-size begin? I have yet to understand, considering the MKZ is only three centimeters shorter than the MKS. It commands respect and boy, do you feel safe and snug in that cockpit.

Speaking of cockpit, the interior actually looks really good. The trim-level I am driving is covered in black leather with white accents and carbon fiber inserts. The dashboard has been revised and is now a work of elegant minimalism. All the instruments gravitate around the SYNC 3 touchscreen display which, in my opinion, remains one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems out there.

Handling is as you’d expect in the segment; smooth and predictable. The steering feels soft under my hands, but on the up side, this also means that the quality of the road surface won’t send me waltzing down the road. And despite its Goliath-like size, the weight and size of the MKZ does not transfer into the driving experience.

Entry-level pricing on the 2017 Lincoln MKZ starts at $39,385 which is fairly reasonable. However, that only gets you the 2.0L turbo. The vehicle I am driving adds $30,000 in options and packages; almost double the starting price and playing well within the range of European and Japanese luxury sedans.

This, I believe, is a downside considering all the players in this market have a solid image and strong credentials. Lincoln has some major competition in the mid-luxury segment. Is this the model to measure up and do the Lincoln badge proud? Perhaps. It is at least, in my opinion, what Lincoln has done best so far. I might finally like a Lincoln.

2017 Lincoln MKZ
Price as tested: $66,100 (Reserve AWD)
Freight: $1,900.00
Configuration: front engine/all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.0L twin-turbo V6/6 speed automatic
Power/torque: 400 horsepower/400 lb-ft of torque
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 11.8 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 13.0 L/100 km
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Lexus ES, Infiniti Q50, Acura TLX

Related links:

Lincoln Canada
The Globe and Mail

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