Full 2011 Lincoln MKZ Review
What's New for 2011
The optional navigation system gains HD radio for 2011.
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ offers loads of available features, smart electronics integration, sufficient power, a spacious cabin, comfortable seats and surprisingly nimble handling. The MKZ's problem, though, is that it just doesn't feel as solidly engineered, sophisticated and luxurious to drive as a proper luxury sedan should be.
Maybe it's too much to expect, as this car has its origins in the stretched platform from the previous-generation Mazda 6 that it shares with the Ford Fusion. While other brands take the platforms of regular family cars and significantly augment them for luxury duty to the point of being unrecognizable, the MKZ's roots are readily apparent. So the MKZ shares the 263-horsepower V6 from the Ford Fusion Sport and drives in a very similar fashion.
Yes, there are some improved materials within the interior like real aluminum trim and Bridge of Weir leather upholstery, yet otherwise most everything is much like the Ford Fusion. This level of polish is impressive when you're paying $28,000 for it. But at $40,000, it's another story.
At this price point there are many other cars we'd suggest, like the 2011 Audi A4, 2011 BMW 3 Series, 2011 Cadillac CTS, 2011 Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti G37, 2011 Lexus ES 350 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, all of which exhibit a greater level of engineering excellence and attention to detail that cannot be quantified by feature lists or specification sheets. The 2011 Lincoln MKZ is a good car; it's just not good enough.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ is a midsize entry-level luxury sedan available in a single trim level. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, foglamps, full power accessories, a keyless entry pad, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats with driver memory functions, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Sync (voice controls, Bluetooth, navigation assistance, 911 assist and iPod interface) and a nine-speaker audio system with six-CD changer, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
The Navigation package includes a rearview camera, a blind spot warning system and a navigation system that includes a touchscreen, single-CD/DVD audio player, 10GB of digital music storage, HD radio and Sirius Travel Link. A THX-certified premium surround-sound system can be added to the navigation package or obtained within the Ultimate package, which further adds 17-inch chrome-clad wheels, a sunroof (also a stand-alone item), adaptive xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, ambient lighting and all Navigation package items.
The Sport Appearance package adds 18-inch polished alloy wheels, a sport-turned suspension, contrasting seat piping, aluminum interior trim and a unique darkened exterior trim. The Executive package adds upgraded leather upholstery and interior trim.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 263 hp and 249 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission, but it includes a manual shift control. Front-wheel drive is standard, while the optional AWD system is notable because it can transfer power from side to side as well as front to rear.
In performance testing, an all-wheel-drive MKZ went from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is competitive in this premium class. Fuel economy is also fairly impressive with an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the front-drive model and 17/24/19 with all-wheel drive.
Standard safety features include stability and traction control, blind spot mirrors, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. The 2011 Lincoln MKZ also comes standard with Ford's programmable MyKey system, which allows parents to specify limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume for their teenage drivers.
In government crash testing, the MKZ's mechanical twin, the Ford Fusion, achieved a perfect five stars for front protection and driver side protection. It earned four stars for rear side protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The MKZ is spacious compared to most of its similarly priced luxury sedan competitors, and it benefits from comfortable seats, a widely adjustable driving position and a big trunk (16.9 cubic feet). In order to get the most out of the MKZ, we recommend loading up with the Navigation package and its wealth of handy, user-friendly technologies like navigation and Sirius Travel Link. The optional THX-certified sound system is also quite strong.
Nevertheless, the MKZ is let down by its interior. Although the materials are a bit nicer than those in the Ford Fusion Sport, the MKZ still feels more like a premium family sedan than something that should be competing with Audi or Mercedes-Benz. Though it boasts things like ventilated seat upholstery and fancy-sounding Bridge of Weir leather, the MKZ falls short of being considered a true luxury car.
The base 2011 Lincoln MKZ feels like a Fusion Sport minus the "Sport," which should be fine for most buyers seeking a quiet and comfortable luxury vehicle. Yet once you add the sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels of the optional Sport Appearance package, the MKZ is suddenly transformed into an agile, fun-to-drive car that you wouldn't necessarily associate with the Lincoln brand. The steering in particular is communicative and well-weighted. There is a downside, though, because it comes with a rough ride that you also wouldn't associate with Lincoln. There are no complaints about the power from the MKZ's V6, but its soundtrack is less pleasing than other six-cylinders at this price point.