2013 Lincoln MKZ Road Test

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2013 Lincoln MKZ Sedan

(2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo 6-speed Automatic)
  • 2013 Lincoln MKZ - Action Front 3/4

    2013 Lincoln MKZ - Action Front 3/4

    Everybody looks when the redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ goes down the road. | December 14, 2012

37 Photos

This Car Won't Save Lincoln

There are four things on the 2013 Lincoln MKZ that are undeniably best in class — four things that will blindside Lincoln's rivals, and shock and awe its customers.

Those four things are its tires. The rest of the new MKZ is wanting, disappointing and generally undesirable.

Right Tires, Wrong Car
Our V6, all-wheel-drive 2013 Lincoln MKZ test car showed up wearing ultra-aggressive Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires (245/40ZR19). They're the kind of tires that come standard on cars like the $90K BMW M5 and the $410K Ferrari 599 GTO.

Red flag. We contacted Lincoln and the response smacked of desperation. Seems the Lincoln engineers insisted on mounting these tires on all of the MKZs earmarked for media testing on the West Coast. They know us car tester types like impressive track numbers to bloviate about, and being in California means cold weather isn't an issue.

Problem is, Lincoln admits that the tires are unicorns. All versions of the 2013 Lincoln MKZ (2.0 EcoBoost, V6, hybrid, everything) come standard with 245/45R18 Michelin Primacy MXM4 low-rolling-resistance all-season tires. If you want the summer tires, Lincoln says it will sell you option 102A, the 19-inch Summer Tire Handling package, which also includes sportier suspension tuning. However, the package is not yet available. We're told its availability is delayed until the end of January and then the $1,565 option will only be available with all-wheel drive. Although the package performs well, and is an attempt to change Lincoln's stodgy image, the automaker admits that a tiny fraction of MKZ buyers will equip their MKZ with the package.

In other words, the test results we got with our test car on the 19-inch summer tires are not really representative of an MKZ 99 percent of consumers will purchase. It's also completely counter to the needs and wants of 99.99999 percent of entry-level luxury sedan buyers.

Because of those tires, the 2013 Lincoln MKZ went through our slalom at 69.2 mph. That's just 1 mph slower than the last 911 we tested, and a couple tenths quicker than the BMW M5. We repeat, the Lincoln MKZ beat the M5.

And that's exactly the kind of data point Lincoln's engineers and public relations team were hoping for.

Foolish. Instead of trying to game the media, Lincoln should have designed and engineered a better car. To be successful in 2013, an entry-level luxury sedan needs a top-grade cabin with plenty of space and tidy integration of the latest technology. It should have a compliant ride quality and a smooth, refined drivetrain that pours on the power without going overboard on fuel consumption. And in all these critical areas, the redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ comes up short.

Where Did All the Space Go?
In case you haven't heard, the Lincoln brand is on life support. Sales have been sagging for years, and Ford's luxury division may not even move 80,000 units in 2012. The Mustang is on pace to outsell all of Lincoln.

The 2013 Lincoln MKZ accounts for a third of Lincoln's sales, so this new version, which has been hyped personally by Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Ford COO Mark Fields and Jim Farley, Ford's executive vice president of Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln, is a big deal. It's based on the revamped Ford Fusion, which ranks among our favorites in the family sedan class. They share a 112.2-inch wheelbase, but the Lincoln is a couple inches longer overall at 194.1 inches.

It's also far more radical-looking with its waterfall grille and full array of LED lighting. We're divided on whether it's actually attractive, but the MKZ has presence, something we can't say about any other current Lincoln.

The edgy design seeps into the MKZ's cabin, where the conventional shifter gives way to dash-mounted buttons that control the six-speed automatic transmission. It's an odd way of selecting D at first, but there are paddle shifters on the steering wheel if you want to shift manually.

What's really strange is that eliminating the shifter hasn't opened up any additional space in this cabin. A high center console provides some extra storage but makes the already narrow front seats feel that much more confining.

In back, there's just enough real-world legroom for a 6-footer, and headroom is tight even though our test car has the normal-size sunroof rather than the optional panoramic glass roof. A glance at the specs reveals that the 2013 Lincoln MKZ has less interior volume than the Fusion (111.9 cubic feet versus 118.8). Since trunk capacity is similar — 15.4 cubes for the MKZ vs. 16 for the Fusion — we're wondering where all the space went.

Don't Make Us Multitask
As you'd expect, MyLincoln Touch, a version of Ford's touch- and voice-based control interface, is standard. Our 2013 MKZ test car also has Equipment Group 103A ($5,330), which adds navigation, a back-up camera and THX audio, plus a raft of other amenities like a power trunk lid, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a steering wheel (yeah, it's heated, too), a blind spot system with rear cross-traffic alerts, and a very hip set of 19-inch wheels.

MyLincoln Touch works like MyFord Touch, but the volume knob — the last holdout to the old school in the Fusion — has disappeared from the center stack. All audio and climate adjustments now require you to tap or slide your fingers across specific locations, and we find this tough to do while distracted by the task of driving. We miss traffic reports when we accidentally shut off the radio instead of the A/C, and we're hopeless with the slide bars for volume and fan speed.

Of course you can talk your way out of these inconveniences with Sync, a less helpful, more matronly version of Halo's Cortana. If you just want to adjust the volume, there's a small toggle button buried in the large outpost of conventional buttons on the Lincoln's steering wheel. Neither of these workarounds should be necessary in a sedan with a sticker price of $49,585 like our tester.

In addition, our MKZ test car's 8-inch display is no larger than the one in a $36K Fusion, and it features the same undersize on-screen "buttons" and sluggish processing times. On the upside, the system reliably reconnects to our iPhone and, unlike recent MyFord-equipped cars, it didn't freeze up during two weeks of testing.

The materials surrounding the electronics are not up to snuff, though. The door panel trim isn't worthy of an entry-level luxury sedan, and the plastic control stalks are scratched up with only 2,000 miles on the odometer. Even the futuristic shifter buttons feel thin and hollow — selecting gears in the 2013 Lincoln MKZ has all the ceremony of popping the trunk.

Ordinary V6
As hard as the 2013 Lincoln MKZ tries to be cutting-edge, this Lincoln is remarkably ordinary to drive. A 240-horsepower version of Ford's now familiar turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder is standard on the MKZ, but if you want your Lincoln to be faster than a Fusion, the optional 3.7-liter V6 ($1,230) is a must.

Yet this is the least exciting 300-hp V6 in existence. There's no exhaust character of any kind, while the engine gathers power steadily with a corresponding increase in intake noise as you approach the 6,500-rpm redline. You'll never remember any of it tomorrow.

Even on this AWD car (subtract $1,890 for the front-drive version), the standard six-speed automatic transmission mainly drives the front wheels, as the clutch-type system is meant to help with snow, not your cornering line. The transmission is acceptably quick with downshifts in both its D and S modes, but sometimes S isn't that practical because it forgets to upshift when you slow down, which keeps the engine spinning for no good reason.

Acceleration feels brisk, but not overwhelmingly so, with 60 mph coming around in 6.7 seconds (6.5 seconds with a foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and the quarter-mile arriving in 14.8 seconds at 94.1 mph. That's slower than many front-drive V6 sedans including the 2013 Honda Accord, Lexus ES 350, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon.

Fuel economy is mediocre. Our best tank nets just 19 mpg against an EPA rating of 18 city/26 highway/21 combined. After a couple bad traffic days, we even see numbers in the mid-teens.

Not Luxurious Enough
Remember those Michelin Pilot Super Sports? Well, as we mentioned before, they do provide plenty of grip, but they come with severe sacrifices in comfort. This Lincoln MKZ delivers an overly firm ride and allowed too much tire noise to intrude into its cabin. Not exactly characteristics desired by most luxury car buyers.

The MKZ's suspension is adjustable, and switching to the MKZ's Comfort mode does soften the ride. But it's at the sacrifice of composure. Suddenly it feels floaty over large bumps, while those tires are still crashing over the small road imperfections. This is extremely disappointing in an entry-luxury sedan in this price range.

Whether these problems exist when the sedan is equipped with the smaller all-season tires is not something we know yet. But we do know it won't match this car's performance (stopping from 60 mph in just 108 feet or pulling off 0.90g on the skid pad) when it's riding on the less aggressive rubber.

One positive is the Lincoln's steering. We do like how the sedan's electric-assist power steering is tuned. It's as precise as a good hydraulic-assist system. Too bad a 1941 Continental has a tighter turning diameter. Tight parking confines are not the MKZ's friend.

Not the MKZ Lincoln Needed
Lincoln's future is on the line, and this redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ won't be enough to reverse its downward spiral.

The MKZ's cabin is a major disappointment in almost every way, and it needs a more powerful and refined engine to compete at this level. The four-cylinder turbo is adequate as a base offering, but Lincoln shouldn't bother with anything short of its twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 as the optional upgrade.

Basically, the MKZ just doesn't feel special. And that's the kiss of death in this hyper-competitive market, which is filled with sedans that do feel special. And make no mistake, every other manufacturer that makes an entry-luxury sedan — from Acura to Volvo — is selling a superior product.

Ford says this MKZ is the future of Lincoln. The car that will save it from suffering the same fate as Mercury, Plymouth, Oldsmobile and Pontiac. But if this is the best Ford can do, we say Mulally, Fields and Farley should just cut their losses and get the headstone ready.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Comments

  • dansmith dansmith Posts:

    I distinctly remember seeing an old NFL Film (Not Video) of Vince Lombardi standing on the sidelines of a long forgotten game, screaming at no one in particular... "What the hell's going on out there...?" Vince was well past his prime, and so was his team. It must have been just before the famous coach left for the Redskins. And it was just a very sorry situation. It was just before Green Bay back-slid into a long period of mediocrity. Bart Star, Paul Hornung and the rest of the guys hadn't retired in time, and the NFL's best small town team looked badly underfunded and increasingly hapless. It was almost time for The Pittsburgh Steelers, 49ers, Giants, Cowboys, etc. to take Center Stage, and the NFC-East was quickly becoming a place where the NFL's poseurs desperately didn't want to go. This was when Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs, Tom Landry and a few others were really starting to hit their stride. Why the comparison? I really don't think that Alan Mulally and his regime have any True Believers at the top, pulling the levers. Sure, the Focus ST and Mustang are steller preformers, but they only have a microscopic audience. The SHO is overly large and ungainly, and the new Ford Fusion is a good car, but doesn't offer a model with serious grunt and attitude. It just doesn't make you desperately want it; and that's exactly what the Lincoln Brand desperately needs. Mark Reuss on the otherhand, is about to unleash a veritable Tsunami of hot new product in Detroit, aimed squarely at America's Petrol Heads. But the bulk of these machines aren't so sharply focused on performance that they alienate the bulk of mainstream buyers. And there simply isn't an unsightly looking dog in the bunch; despite the bungling presence of Dan Ackerson. And the bulk of these machines are aimed squarely at the same plot of ground occupied by Lincoln's singularly uninspired MKZ; a car destined to go almost totally unnoticed. Now, I'm not going to say that it's as bad as the uniquely hateful Olds Achieva... but it certainly doesn't hold up at all well when compared to Buick's Regal GNX, the Lexus IS-F, LF-CC, and the rest of the contenders in the Entry Level Near-Luxury class. And the fact that Infiniti's G-series cars are barely getting noticed, should tell you where the Lincoln MKZ is headed. There is every reason to believe that Ford's luxury division is circling the drain, and they have no clue on how to claw their way back to respectability. It's time for them to start mainstreaming Ford FPV products. It simply can't get any worse than it already is. And Australia's Super Pursuit model would probably be more popular with shoppers than the bilious looking MKZ. The team at Lincoln is shooting nothing but blanks. And now Sergio Marchionne is about to start introducing the Alfa Romeo product line here in America. Lincoln is about to get burried.

  • fordfrenzy fordfrenzy Posts:

    See Edmonds need to get they're [non-permissible content removed] together, yes this is a $50,000 Ford fusion we know that but the rest of the comments songs like the editor is stupid. First off Lincoln has a handling package for this vehicle that's $1,565 that includes the wheels and tires that are on this test car and a sport tuned Lincoln drive control system, also dull engine this is the exact same v6 that's in the Mustang and you said it was a great engine in that test, I'm noticing that alot of your posts are very personal and should be true to the consumer, yes the interior looks like an after thought but the rest of this vehicle is very good, yes this should be a rear drive 3 series fighter but for Lincoln this is very good and compared to everything in it's class it's the best when it comes to performance and exterior styling, technology and value.

  • rasmaxwell rasmaxwell Posts:

    Push button automatic transmissions were used in the 1960's! Aside from that, the MKZ is a cheap, non-competitive, over priced Ford Fusion. MyLincoln Touch is an abomination. Lincoln is dying no matter what lipstick Ford may place upon the naming of the Lincoln division.

  • rasmaxwell rasmaxwell Posts:

    Push button automatic transmissions were used in the 1960's! Aside from that, the MKZ is a cheap, non-competitive, over priced Ford Fusion. MyLincoln Touch is an abomination. Lincoln is dying no matter what lipstick Ford may place upon the naming of the Lincoln division.

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  • dad18 dad18 Posts:

    This review appears to be overly harsh and moderately misleading. The article misleads in regards to the available performance package. A great deal of space here has been devoted to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires which is part of an optional package. The fact that the tires aren't yet available at the time of testing doesn't detract from the fact that how well you and other automotive journalists have stated the MKZ has performed, but that this is an example of a car that will be available shortly to the public, Lincoln putting their best foot forward. Not a unicorn as they do not exist, however, the MKZ with this package within a a short of this writing will be available to the public, no different than other automobiles offered by many manufacturers this automobile will be compared to. Just call it an preview of what is to come.

  • carchatter1 carchatter1 Posts:

    Wow, this sounds like a ranty, whine-fest instead of a real review. Maybe someone else more mature should have been handed the assignment of writing this review. For example, if the car can be had with a sport package, I think it's fair that they give you the car with a sport package to review, what's wrong with that? So what if it's available in 1 month instead of now. It's astonishing that it beats an M5, and you whine about it instead of praising it. And how can you be sure most buyers won't purchase the sport package? I'm sure a fair amount of them will (not .0001% as this article implies). As for all the complaints about the interior and everything else, they all sound like personal preference issues. Other reviews I've read have said the exact opposite of this one about all these topics, including how it stacks up to the competition. Compare this review to the Lexus ES review Erin wrote, where she completely glosses over many issues and didn't whine about anything, and it sounds like she's got a prejudice problem with Lincoln. This is a poor excuse for fair, objective journalism, and gives the Edmunds website a black eye. The other journalists on this website seem to have a more even-tempered set of skills for evaluating an automobile on it's merits, maybe over time Erin can learn something from them.

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  • duncan36 duncan36 Posts:

    When an article exudes outright hatred for a car one cant but help wonder exactly why this is. Especially a car that has been very well received by many professional automotive magazines. I mean I've driven some pretty sorry rentals in my life and even the worst one I didnt hate. For whatever reason this reviewer has an obvious agenda.

  • brookse1 brookse1 Posts:

    Love this review. So, with tires this thing can go with a 911? And this is bad? Don't think many MKZ drivers are looking to carve corners. Then of course, we have the paddle shifters to shift gears, "manually"... LMAO. (If you don't understand, you are employed by Edmunds.) But I most love the pontential street race between this car and an Accord, or an ES. LMAO X 2. This is a "review"? On a personal level, I must say the Eurocrap have the ugliest interiors I've ever seen. As sterile as a hosptial ER. They could take a cue from the Japanese, and that's not saying much. Given this review, it sounds like a decent car. Sticker price is high, but that's what you pay if you want to street race a 911. LOL.

  • alex1212 alex1212 Posts:

    Was planning on looking at the MKZ but when the date kept being pushed back I began to wonder if they were having problems. Also if I waited much longer the 2014 would be out. I also started getting nervous about trade in value when I wanted to trade it in so I went with the Lexus ES-350. Bought it in December. Love it. Very pleased that I bought it instead of the MKZ. Lexus just seems to have a better name & reputation than Lincoln.

  • savetheland savetheland Posts:

    Most stupid review I efer read about any car. Just BSing from whoever reviewer were. New low for Edmunds. I got here by accident, I have not read reviews from Edmunds for ages and after I started (and gave up) reading this review I have no desire to come back here anytime soon - no thank you for wasting my time. There are much better sites devoted to automobiles like The Truth About Cras or Autoblog where cars are reviewed for what really matters and not for BS opinion.

  • savetheland savetheland Posts:

    And lot of spam comments too. Just forget it.

  • carzrmylife carzrmylife Posts:

    Astonishing good looks, I think it is beautiful...BUT that is about the ONLY good thing about this car...bad engine choice, front wheel drive...need I keep going? Ford should have used the EcoBoost 3.5L V6...BEST interior from Ford, EVER. PERIOD. Every other interior from the brand is tasteless and looks as if was from the 90's. Rear wheel drive, different engine choices, and this car would actually be a fantastic car........too bad, Cadillac doesn't get it either, FWD is NOT was people want.

  • wtarchala wtarchala Posts:

    In spite of kind of negative review, I think the car looks stunning. It might also be a great alternative to traditional car service to all individuals who seek luxury transportation but want to save a lot on gas. I spoke with couple of guys from Stretch Limos, a premium Chicago car service company, http://stretchlimochicago.com, and they claim there's a big demand for gas saving vehicles where savings can be passed on a customer. V.T.

  • The MKZ despite being a newer model than the MKS 2013 technology-wise is a disappointment, but it's no surprise because I've been disappointed with Ford since the Ford 500. The MKZ is the most technologically sophisticated car - able to park itself, steer itself and cruise control itself, but it's no fun at all to drive. I'd almost leave its "fun to drive" factor in CAMRY territory. Chrysler's Uconnect is a far better infotainment system. Sync is terrible. The V6 is the engine you'll want because the Ecoboost sounds unrefined for a "luxury car". The Fusion should come with the Ecoboost 2.0 as a top trim engine and the MKZ should offer the 3.5-L ecoboost and BREMBO BRAKES. Cadillac and Chrysler understand how to sell a car, but Lincoln caters to senior citizens who are old enough to actually remember when Lincoln's were more prestigious than Mercedes. Look at my test drive on youtube: "bigtruckseriesreview mkz 2013"

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Lincoln MKZ in VA is:

$119 per month*
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