What's New for 2013
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ is fully redesigned.
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ marks Lincoln's first step toward reclaiming some of the prestige it enjoyed nearly half a century ago. And while the new MKZ rides on the same platform as its mainstream Ford Fusion relative, it's a notable improvement from the typical half-hearted rebadging of a Ford we've come to expect from Lincoln.
The first thing people will likely notice about the MKZ is its styling. The split grille, a modern take on the late-1930s Lincoln Zephyr models, is followed by sleek sheet metal that wraps tightly around its four doors. A sweeping roof line/deck lid and a full-width LED taillight panel finish it off in high style. Adding more visual (and visceral) excitement is the available glass roof whose front portion slides back over the rear window. You may or may not like it, but at the minimum the MKZ is one of the most distinctive-looking cars in its class.
In addition to the same peppy yet thrifty turbocharged four-cylinder and hybrid powertrains offered in the Fusion, the 2013 Lincoln MKZ also offers a 300-horsepower V6, which further serves to differentiate the MKZ from its Fusion cousin. Even the method of selecting gears is unique, as rather than a shifter sprouting from the console or steering column, there is a row of easily accessed buttons high up on the center stack. Also helping out the MKZ is a generous array of standard and optional high-tech features, including adaptive cruise control, LED headlights and multicontour front seats.
There's no question that Lincoln has packed a lot of kit into its newest MKZ. But the end result is a little disappointing. You can still get most of its high-end features on the Fusion, for instance, and for a price that's thousands of dollars cheaper. And in comparison with other entry-level luxury sedans, the MKZ loses points for its finicky MyLincoln Touch electronics interface, underwhelming interior quality and less spacious seating. In contrast, the 2013 Lexus ES has a more luxurious and inviting interior, while the Acura TL and Volvo S60 provide stronger six-cylinder power in addition to their available all-wheel-drive traction. If you want a sportier sedan, the 2013 BMW 3 Series is a better choice.
Overall, the MKZ has some nice qualities, and we like the effort put forth to make it more distinctive than in years past. The MKZ Hybrid also stands out as one of only a few entry-level luxury sedans capable of returning more than 40 mpg. But overall, we think shoppers should take a look at some of the aforementioned cars before going ahead with a purchase of this newest Lincoln.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Lincoln MKZ is a midsize luxury sedan that comes in two trim levels, MKZ and MKZ Hybrid.
The well-equipped MKZ and MKZ Hybrid come with 18-inch wheels, adaptive LED headlights, LED taillights, adaptive suspension dampers, keyless ignition/entry (with an outside keypad), dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power front seats with power lumbar, driver memory settings, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and full power accessories. Also standard are the Sync voice command system, an 8-inch touchscreen display, the MyLincoln Touch electronics interface and an 11-speaker sound system with CD player, auxiliary/USB/iPod input jacks and satellite radio.
Most options are grouped into packages that build upon each other. The Select equipment package includes front bumper accent lights, an auto-dimming driver sideview mirror, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, wood steering wheel trim, ambient lighting and HD radio. The Reserve equipment package adds to that a navigation system, a blind spot detection system with cross-traffic alert, a power close trunk lid, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, perforated leather upholstery and ventilated front seats. The Preferred equipment package includes all that as well as 19-inch alloy wheels, heated rear seats, a 110-volt power point and a premium 14-speaker surround-sound audio system.
There is also the Technology package, which includes adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel parking system, a lane departure/keeping system, collision warning/mitigation, automatic headlights and automatic windshield wipers.
Individual option highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, a standard sunroof, a panoramic glass roof with integral sunroof, multicontour front seats, a power rear sunshade and airbag-embedded rear seatbelts.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ offers three engine choices. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the base engine and generates 240 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift controls is standard, as is front-wheel drive (FWD). All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional.
In Edmunds testing, an MKZ with AWD and the 2.0 turbo accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is an average time for this class of car. EPA fuel economy ratings stand at 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined with FWD. The AWD version rates 22/31/25.
The optional 3.7-liter V6 produces 300 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. It also has a standard six-speed automatic (with paddle shifters) and comes with either front- or all-wheel drive. In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive MKZ with the V6 ran from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, a below-average time for a six-cylinder entry-luxury sedan. The V6 with front-wheel drive rates 19/28/22 for fuel economy, while the V6 with AWD rates 18/26/21.
Then there's the 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, which employs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor for a combined 188 hp. It's front-wheel-drive only and uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to earn impressive fuel economy ratings of 45 mpg across the board. We haven't tested an MKZ Hybrid, but the similar Fusion Hybrid posted an 8.4-second time to 60 mph, which is on par with the Lexus ES 300h. While this is not a record-breaking performance, it is on the quicker end of the spectrum for hybrid vehicle acceleration.
Standard safety features include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side-impact airbags, front knee airbags and side curtain airbags. The 2013 Lincoln MKZ also features Ford's programmable MyKey system, which allows parents to specify limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume for their young drivers. Optional equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and lane assist (it automatically helps the driver keep the car in its lane), collision warning with brake support, and airbag-embedded rear seatbelts.
In Edmunds brake testing, an MKZ with the regular (all-season) tires stopped from 60 mph in 121 feet, an average distance for this segment.
The government has crash tested the MKZ and given the car five stars (out of a possible five) for overall crash safety, with five stars for total frontal-impact protection and four stars for total side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests, the MKZ earned a top score of "Good" in the organization's frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. The IIHS also gave the MKZ a second-best score of "Acceptable" for its new "small overlap" frontal-offset test.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the 2013 MKZ has a futuristic feeling created by the flowing center stack and console that are devoid of protruding knobs, buttons and levers. Overall materials quality is acceptable for this class of car; however, little things like thinly padded door panels and hollow-feeling gear-selector buttons can remind you that your car is still a cousin to the more plebeian Fusion.
The touchscreen has a clean layout, and can conveniently display four functions -- navigation, audio, climate and phone -- in easily read and neatly divided quadrants. But we have mixed feelings as far as the ergonomics go. Though the touch controls are more responsive than the earlier version of MyFord/MyLincoln Touch, they still require a more precise finger prod than traditional push buttons. There's not even a volume knob anymore. Alleviating this somewhat is the fact that one may also use the excellent voice command system, but that's little consolation to those who don't like talking to their car.
Although the MKZ is related to the normally roomy Fusion, its styling changes have resulted in less interior room. Some folks may find the front seating position a bit confining, partially because of the high center console. In back, there's seating for three people, though Lincoln has essentially sculpted it for two people. Normal-sized adults should be pretty comfortable, but the car's coupelike roof line might cause headroom issues for taller passengers.
The MKZ does have a respectably sized trunk, with 15.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity in the non-hybrid models; the hybrid has only 11.1 cubic feet, due to the battery pack that intrudes into the trunk space. The non-hybrid version also features a 60/40 split-folding rear seat whereas the hybrid does not.
Equipped with the standard 18-inch all-season tires, the 2013 Lincoln MKZ offers a comfortable, quiet ride on the highway and bumpy city streets -- exactly what you'd expect of an entry-level luxury sedan. On the other hand, an MKZ test car with the optional 19-inch wheels and summer tires rode stiffly and let more noise into the cabin on the highway. Accordingly, our recommendation to consumers is to stick with the standard 18-inch tires.
With the V6 under the hood, the MKZ provides suitable and satisfying performance, but acceleration is still quite acceptable with the turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Between the two gas-powered engines, though, the four-cylinder is our choice given that it's cheaper and returns better fuel economy.
Although it's not as sporting as potential rivals like the Cadillac ATS or Volvo S60, the MKZ handles well around turns. We're partial to the turbocharged 2.0-liter model in this regard as well. The four-cylinder MKZ is lighter, and it feels sharper and more entertaining around the tight turns you might encounter on a back-roads detour. The MKZ's all-wheel-drive system doesn't offer a tremendous dynamic advantage on dry roads, but if you live in an area of the country that gets significant winter snowfall, this option is worth considering.
While down on power, the 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is generally as pleasant to drive as the gasoline-only MKZs. It rides smoothly, and acceleration is adequate for daily use around town. There's generally enough passing power on the highway, too, especially if you plan ahead. The hybrid model's regenerative braking takes some getting used to, though, and inching forward or backward into a parking stall takes a delicate touch on the brake pedal.