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 on a lot of kit for its newest MKZ. But the end result is a little disappointing. You can still get most of those high-end features on the Fusion, for instance, and for a price that's thousands of dollars cheaper. Placed in comparison with other entry-level luxury sedans, the MKZ also suffers from its finicky MyLincoln Touch electronics interface, underwhelming interior quality and more confining 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. And if you want a sport sedan or something more lustrous in terms of image, the 2013 BMW 3 Series would still be 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. But shoppers in search of a top entry-level luxury sedan should take a look at some of the aforementioned choices before going with 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. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive (AWD) is available on the standard MKZ.
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. As with the optional V6 detailed below, this engine is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift controls. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard with all-wheel drive (AWD) optional. With FWD the 2.0 turbo earns EPA fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. The AWD version rates 22/31/25.
The optional 3.7-liter V6 produces 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive MKZ with the V6 ran zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, an average time for this type of car. 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 MKZ Hybrid, which employs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor for a combined 188 hp. Using a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the MKZ earns 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. High-performance hybrids from BMW and Infiniti are much quicker, but the Lexus CT 200h is significantly slower.
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.
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 a bit underwhelming for this class of car, however, as 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, due to that battery pack location, does not.
Though it possesses respectable handling chops, the 2013 Lincoln MKZ doesn't exactly feel nimble on a tight twisting road. This is due chiefly to its relatively substantial size compared to similarly priced but smaller and lighter compact German rivals, which naturally feel more sporting on a narrow back country road. Discouragingly, we found our summer-tire equipped MKZ test car also rode rather stiffly, even with the adjustable suspension set to Comfort. We've yet to drive a model with the much more common all-season tires, so make sure you test-drive an MKZ to see if you find the ride quality to your liking.
With the V6 under the hood, the MKZ provides satisfying, though hardly exciting performance. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine would be our choice given that it's cheaper, returns better fuel economy and provides very similar acceleration. We have yet to drive the hybrid version of the MKZ, but will update this review once we have.