What's New for 2009
The Lincoln MKZ receives standard electronic stability control for 2009 but is otherwise essentially unchanged.
As with most cars these days, there's nothing glaringly wrong with the 2009 Lincoln MKZ. It rides smoothly, handles well, accelerates with alacrity and comes well-equipped even in base form. However, much the same could be said of the Ford Fusion, on which the MKZ is based. The problem is that Lincoln simply hasn't done enough to distinguish the MKZ from its competent but commonplace platform-mate.
Sure, the MKZ receives the full Lincoln styling treatment inside and out -- but the younger demographic isn't likely to approve of the MKZ's chromed-out mug and staid retro-themed interior. And under the skin, it's basically a Fusion with 42 extra horsepower. That might be a good thing if the MKZ were a family sedan, but Lincoln is sending it into battle against heavy hitters like the Acura TL, Lexus ES350, Nissan Maxima and VW Passat. As competent as the MKZ is in most respects, it can't match the upscale ambience and dynamic excellence of these models.
Of course, the Acura and Lexus are also related to family sedans from parent companies Honda and Toyota, respectively. But the difference is that Acura and Lexus have worked overtime to dial out that family-sedan feel. Drive those models back to back with their plebian progenitors and you'll be struck by how much they've been transformed. Drive the MKZ back to back with the Fusion, though, and you likely won't notice much beyond the restyled interior and some additional get-up-and-go.
To Lincoln's credit, the MKZ offers a slew of standard luxury items, with electronic stability control belatedly joining the list for 2009. All-wheel drive is also available, which can't be said of many competitors. And then there's the price; if you want one, chances are you'll be able to get a pretty good deal. Indeed, if you knock a few grand off the MKZ's MSRP, it stacks up nicely against well-optioned family sedans. But at the end of the day, that's really all the 2009 Lincoln MKZ is -- a well-optioned family sedan. For a true premium ownership experience, we'd recommend looking elsewhere.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Lincoln MKZ midsize premium sedan is available in only one well-equipped trim level. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, wood trim, heated and cooled power front seats with driver-side memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker CD stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack, and the Ford/Microsoft Sync multimedia integration system.
Major options include chrome wheels, xenon headlights, a sunroof, an upgraded THX-certified sound system and a voice-activated navigation system. The new-for-2009 ultimate package bundles all of these options together, and the new Midnight Black package adds a charcoal and tan interior color scheme with maple accents.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Lincoln MKZ is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 263 hp and 249 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, while the optional electronically controlled AWD system can transfer power from side to side as well as front to rear.
In performance testing, we hustled an AWD MKZ from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is a tad off the pace for this segment. The EPA rates the front-wheel-drive MKZ at 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, while the AWD version comes in at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway but an identical 19 mpg combined.
Standard safety features include front-seat side-impact airbags as well as full-length head curtain airbags. The head airbags include a "roll-fold" feature that helps to keep the airbag against the glass even if the occupant is out of position. All MKZs include antilock disc brakes and electronic stability control.
In government frontal-impact crash tests, the 2009 Lincoln MKZ received five out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection, while in federal side-impact tests, the MKZ received five and four stars for front and rear passengers, respectively. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the MKZ its highest rating of "Good" in frontal-offset crash-testing. The IIHS also deemed the 2007-'08 model of the MKZ "Acceptable" in side-impact testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
We don't mind retro interiors when they're well-executed, but the MKZ's tall, angular dual-cowl dashboard would look more at home in an SUV than a luxury sedan. And it's not just the styling that's problematic -- materials quality pales in comparison to other entry-level luxury cars. The MKZ is larger than many competitors, however, and it boasts a fully usable backseat. Trunk space is also ample at 15.8 cubic feet, and the rear seat folds down to increase cargo capacity.
Not surprisingly, the 2009 Lincoln MKZ feels almost the same as the Fusion from the driver seat. That means it handles well and rides comfortably but fails to impart the premium feel of other sedans at this price point. Moreover, the 3.5-liter V6's performance is somewhat of a letdown, although it's an improvement over the Fusion's optional 3.0-liter V6.