2013 Lincoln MKZ Full Road Test

2013 Lincoln MKZ Full Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (2)
  • Comparison
  • Long-Term

2013 Lincoln MKZ Sedan

(2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo AWD 6-speed Automatic)

Inching Its Way Toward Credibility

Forget the V6. The 2013 Lincoln MKZ is a better car with the standard four-cylinder engine under its hood.

Last year we tested a V6-powered MKZ and walked away underwhelmed. The car's 3.7-liter V6 had plenty of power, but it just didn't feel or sound upscale. And its price tag was a mind blower at just shy of $50,000.

This is a better deal. This MKZ is powered by Ford's turbocharged 2.0-liter, and it's one of the best new boosted engines out there. In fact, it's the same EcoBoost engine we've praised in our long-term Ford Focus ST, as well as the Ford Escape and the MKZ's mechanical twin, the Ford Fusion.

With 240 horsepower, it doesn't have the power of the optional V6, and it cannot provide the same acceleration, but it's more than strong enough to keep the 2013 Lincoln MKZ entertaining and it comes with a laundry list of advantages including quicker throttle response, better mileage and less weight. Plus, it costs thousands of dollars less.

2013 Lincoln MKZ

Smaller Displacement, Better Performance
Out in the push and pull of midday traffic, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder really shines. It's quick to respond and it gives the 2013 Lincoln MKZ what little personality it has. It's an engine that enjoys a good run through the gears and it delivers its power so smoothly and so instantly it's easy to forget it's only a four-cylinder. Or that it's turbocharged.

Still, this is an engine with working-class roots, which are revealed with a gritty rasp at high revs that even the Lincoln's generous sound-deadening material can't keep out of its cabin.

Acceleration is competitive for the class. This MKZ ran through our quarter-mile test in 15.4 seconds at 89.5 mph. The turbo-induced 270 pound-feet of torque really drives the lash here, generating impressive grunt from a standstill and slinging the MKZ from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds (6.9 seconds with a foot of rollout as on a drag strip), or about half a second slower than the V6.

The Lincoln's six-speed automatic transmission isn't exactly state of the art (its competition offers seven or even eight speeds), but this is a quick-thinking gearbox and it hangs on to revs long enough for the turbo to exhale before settling into the next gear.

Selecting the transmission's Sport mode only makes things better, as do the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.

We used them more than we should, and our fuel mileage suffered. Still, the four-cylinder delivered 22 mpg combined during our two weeks with the car. That's much better than the 17.5 mpg we saw with the V6.

2013 Lincoln MKZ

Redemption Behind the Wheel
Head out onto a busy boulevard and the 2013 Lincoln MKZ wants to impress. The ride is buttoned-down and serious. And compared to the crash-and-hum of our previous test car with its overly aggressive tires, this MKZ and its 245/45R18 Michelin Primacy all-season tires nicely attenuate road and wind noise in a manner you expect from a car wearing a luxury brand.

Turn off onto a winding back road and the MKZ reveals its most redeeming quality: sharp handling. Most won't expect a Lincoln to remain so steady and composed when it throws its weight from side to side, but they better get used to it. This Lincoln navigated our slalom test at a very impressive 65.3 mph, and its 0.84g of grip on our skid pad is respectable.

Its brakes are average for the class. They require 121 feet to stop from 60 mph, and do so with an overly long pedal travel.

The standard adjustable suspension, with its front strut and rear multilink setup reinforced by active damping, deserves much of the credit. But the steering is the real surprise here. The electrically assisted rack offers a lively 14.8:1 ratio and feels intuitive and communicative, whether entering a corner fast and late or dodging an inattentive cell-phoner in the Target parking lot.

2013 Lincoln MKZ

Selecting Sport mode best configures the suspension, steering and throttle for side-winding adventure, but comes with a sacrifice in ride quality. Although it's tempting to simply leave the MKZ in Sport mode all the time, it becomes a little less tolerable once you're back on the potholed avenue.

Although sporty, this is not a sport sedan. "I'm going to trade in my M3 for an MKZ," will never be said by anybody, ever. Its handling is alert and responsive, but the MKZ is lacking the performance and visceral driver engagement that would entice you into special early-morning trips to your favorite back roads.

Minding the Details
Nothing has changed since we last sat in the cabin. There's a very good seating position, comfortable chairs and a cool, modern ambience, with functional lines as classically restrained as Chicago architecture. But there's also bumpy, utility-feeling material covering the dash, door panels and center console, and the gear select buttons (no stalk shifter here) still feel flimsier than they should.

The brushed metal accents look decent from a distance, but a closer look and touch reveal garden-variety plastic. And the overall fit and finish is just disappointing. For instance, the way the MKZ's steering wheel panel doesn't sit flush with the wheel ring is a crime at this price point and will only drive more and more discerning buyers into Audis and Lexuses.

2013 Lincoln MKZ

Then there's the My Lincoln Touch multimedia interface, which is as clumsy as ever. This botched touchscreen fantasy in Ford and Lincoln products has been a universal punching bag since its debut and we have no choice but to kick it while it's down.

Sadly, it hasn't improved in any meaningful way since the last time we knocked it around. Touch-sensitive audio and climate controls remain hard to use, as there's no discernible feedback (haptic or otherwise) to your inputs. Landing your finger a half-inch in either direction on the fan control bar means the difference between medium and take-off speed.

Basically, it's all just hard to use without diverting too much of your attention from your driving. And that's never good.

That said, once you study the manual and learn the system, particularly how to navigate the submenus via Sync voice command, My Lincoln Touch becomes mostly transparent.

2013 Lincoln MKZ

Can't Shake Its Competition
A base price of around $39,000 puts the all-wheel-drive 2013 Lincoln MKZ firmly in the entry-level luxury leagues. But our test car came with $7,670 worth of options, including navigation, a sunroof, a premium THX audio system, adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, reverse sensors, parking assist and safety features like blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert and lane keeping assist. The final tally: $46,380, including $895 for destination.

That money buys a similarly equipped 2013 Lexus ES 350. The Lexus lacks all-wheel drive, but far outpaces the MKZ in overall refinement and engine performance. The larger Hyundai Genesis or smaller BMW 3 Series are also alternatives at this level, and even base Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series models sit within striking distance of our test car's MSRP.

But the MKZ's most threatening rival comes from within. It's a Ford Fusion Titanium, which is not only a mechanical twin to the MKZ, but it offers most of the Lincoln's features, including all-wheel drive. And it costs $36,000 fully loaded. That's $3,000 less than this MKZ's base price and $10,000 less than its as-tested price.

Until Lincoln further differentiates the MKZ from the Fusion, it's going to have a hard time convincing many luxury car buyers that it's back in the game and ready to be taken seriously. Still, the 2013 Lincoln MKZ is definitely a step in the right direction for a once great American brand looking for a new identity. Just remember, don't pay for the optional V6.

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



  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    So what you are saying is we have a Lincoln Cimmeron. Well, ok, maybe not quite that bad since the MKwhatever is visually quite different from it's corporate sibling and the Fusion is hardly a first gen Cavalier. But it doesn't say much for Lincoln Motor Company's strategy that its flagship car is functionally identical to Ford's bread and butter mid-sized sedan. And AGAIN I am going to whine about the "name". If someone told me they were going to test drive an MKZ I would have no clue which Lincoln that was. Tacking random letters to "MK" is NOT a naming strategy. Ford, please fire the person that came up with this idea.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    It looks like you're saying there's no point to buying this Lincoln. The Fusion is mechanically the same car for thousands less. It has pretty sharp looks, too. Lincoln has what... luxury brand cachet? Not!

  • wdrauch wdrauch Posts:

    This car might be more interesting after the mid-cycle refresh when Lincoln hopefully upgrades the interior and maybe differentiates the powertrain with an 8-speed trans or more power vs the Fusion. Until then, the only unique feature it seems to offer is HID headlamps!

  • jeffinoh jeffinoh Posts:

    I feel like its cheating to use a black-on-black car for this review. It automatically looks luxurious. Problem is, other luxury brands all went crazy with topstitched leather and two tone interior treatments lately so the massive plastic dash isn't on par. The car looks hefty which is a plus for American luxury brands. It just lacks a solid identity. That's a real challenge, because its abstract. Don't think Lincoln is inspired the way Cadillac is now.

  • lions208487 lions208487 Posts:

    I have seen two of these on the road, and this car is fugly. Like most are saying, the titanium trim Fusion with the same engine is a much better option. Lincoln needs a new design team, and develop a sportier chassis similar to what GM is doing with Cadillac. The current Ford lineup is very competitive if not better than most of its competition, but their Lincoln brand is suffering from any forward thinking. There is nothing wrong with sharing power trains, but re-badging doesn't work anymore.

  • rks838 rks838 Posts:

    Why are all American 4-cylinder turbo motors producing far worse acceleration numbers than their power figures would suggest...

  • unclebrud unclebrud Posts:

    The MKZ isn't a bad looking car. But, I see a few problems after checking one out at the dealer: 1. The quality looks sub-par; fit and finish is spotty on the interior and there are too many cheap plastic surfaces. The wood inlay doesn't fit all that well. The seats are very comfortable, however. 2. The paint doesn't have the depth of that on a Lexus or Audi. There are also many Ford parts (wiper stalk, headlight control) that are found in my $16k Focus. The badge looks cheap, as well. 2. Dealerships...there is no special Lincoln area...the MKZ's are lumped in with all of the other Fords. 3. Naming...the MK lettering makes no sense and it's difficult to recall what a particular model is called. 4. Knowledge of the launch issues w/MKZ & Fusion. 5. Does Lincoln have too many sedans? It seems that they need a clear hierarchy (1/3/5/6/7-series, for ex). 6. Cutting the free maintenance plan to 2yr/24mos. Not brilliant...indicates a lack of commitment. Lincoln needs to commit to making cars completely separate from Ford + a great dealer/service experience in order to succeed. All the PR releases/advertising in the world won't fool anyone.

  • kshankar kshankar Posts:

    So its basically a Mexican built gussied up Fusion for $10K more. Just euthanize this brand, already. Why isn't this car being made in America?

  • coolb944 coolb944 Posts:

    I think the single biggest problem facing the MKZ is that it doesn't feel luxurious, especially for the price tag. You can't stuff a car full of technology and automatically think people will find it luxurious. It sounds like the driving experience is dialed in pretty well for a Lincoln. I haven't personally driven one, so I couldn't say. But I have sat in it, and the interior doesn't feel special or luxurious. The design is blah, fit and finish is nothing remarkable, and there's too much plastic. Other brands use higher-grade materials (real metal, real woods, better feeling leather, more nicely grained plastics) with different. more-pleasing textures and visual details, AND can afford to ship their cars from overseas and sell them hand over fist in the US. Why can't Lincoln do the same, and have the advantage of not having to ship the cars from overseas? It's just baffling to me that Ford and Lincoln could botch this opportunity the way they did. The look of the car got people excited for the possibilities. The execution of the interior, however, has really let them down. And I think Lincoln hasn't done enough in other areas to bolster the Lincoln experience. The naming convention doesn't really come as an issue to me. Cadillac uses -TS on all their sedans, and just about every other luxury brand uses some combination of letters and numbers. That's really not the problem. Although changing the first letter rather than the last letter does seem to stick with people more.

  • themandarin themandarin Posts:

    President Lincoln is turning in his grave

  • 2013_bull 2013_bull Posts:

    Hey guys, nothing personal, but I am starting to question how tech savvy you really are. We have a 2013 Flex and Taurus, both with MFT. I love the system. Are the controls slow at times? Yes, but it no slower and freezes up less often than Microsoft Office 2013. We do not experience the issues you all seem to repeatedly report. Perhaps more time with one would help you acclimate to the system? I'm not sure what he answer is, but I can say from a consumers perspective, I love MFT and forwent several other vehicles when shopping to get it.

  • vantageman vantageman Posts:

    The reviewer is being a litte bias against the Lincoln for the money this car costs as tested you wouldnt be buying a 5 or A6 similarly equipped as those cars would costs $10 to $15000 more. The 3 series in turbo 4 form can easily go into well over $50,000 so the price comparison are a bit misleading. As far as engine performance they make the V6 if you want power. To me though the MKZ does a good job of not looking the Fusion on the outside but thats not to say the MKZ looks better than the Fusion as it doesnt its proportions are off a bit from some angles. Its interior to me looks way to close to that of a loaded Fusion just with wood trim. Even the shape of the wood trim and dashboard look almost identical. Maybe Ford spends so much time building competitive Fords that it runs out of development funds for Lincoln but until they stop making 50% effort luxury cars to compete with cars that are puttin in 110% than they will always just be passed over by all but the Lincoln faithfull which are few and far in between.

  • shatner shatner Posts:

    That is a lot of black plastic in the interior... This is one expensive Fusion, and the turbo can't even keep up with some regular 4cyl. cars.

  • shatner shatner Posts:

    The buttons on the dash to change gears are beyond stupid, who asked for that?

  • loseit loseit Posts:

    Although sporty, this is not a sport sedan. "I'm going to trade in my M3 for an MKZ," will never be said by anybody, ever. I traded in my e92 M3 for an E350 4matic. What was I thinking :(

  • loseit loseit Posts:

    My biggest gripe at this point with American cars is interior plastics. I went go look at the CTS and then the Grand Cherokee. Great cars until I feel how hard the plastics are on the center tunnel and doors etc....really? is that hard to spend the extra 2 dollars to get them upto class standards? They are not cheap vehicles. I would buy any number of American cars if they would just have upto standard interiors. They have the dynamics, looks from outside etc but always fail to go that extra step and make something remarkable. I know they can do it. Just frickin do it!

  • I think that the MKZ is a respectable effort from Lincoln. The exterior and interior styling are agreeable and modern. I see some "reverse wedge" in the styling and I am NOT a fan of reverse wedge, but it is still a sharp looking sedan. It is certainly no worse than the Acura TL which is based on the Honda Accord and the Lexus ES which is based on the Toyota Camry. I will be interested to see how the MKZ does in a comparison test with its rivals in terms of performance, handling, styling, quality and price :-)

  • Paul3557 Paul3557 Posts:

    Nice car; I like this car. I want to buy this car. I really do - but I can't. The value just isn't there. It compares to cars that cost $5K to $10K less. Sorry Lincoln; please call me when you reduce the price.

  • financeman2 financeman2 Posts:

    Where is the value proposition? If someone really wants this car, I would suggest waiting about 18 months when it will be readily available on the used car market for about 60% of the new car price.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I had a friend in high school with an old Dodge Dart that had a push-button transmission.

  • whobson1 whobson1 Posts:

    I have driven virtually every luxury brand over the years and consider myself a car guy. My father and I even used to own a new car dealership years ago. That said; I drive a Hyundai Genesis with the Tech. package now. It has been a terrific car and virtually trouble free. Drives awesome, (very 5 series BMW like), all the toys, good looking (still get lots of comments on it ;black on black) etc. I'm a Realtor by profession and am ready to get a new car, so having had a couple of Lincoln in the form of a large town car years ago as well as a Lincoln pick up, I was considering. However, I don't want a tarted up Ford again like my Pick up was. I don't want a fancied up Taurus or Fusion either. If I am going to fork over the extra dough, I want a car that justifies the extra dollars. Not just a name, but a car that is really a great car. I bought a Hyundai Genesis after really researching it. It's an amazing car. Not a luxury brand, but justified by its quality and performance. Common Lincoln. You are part of the Ford family and are making tons of money selling F-150's. Put some money into R&D as well as styling. Come up with some great cars again like the '60's and early 70's when you were a real competitor to Cadillac. I know you have real car guys there who would love to have a budget and unleash some talent. Go buy a new Genesis, Lexus, Infinity, Jaguar, BMW, Audi or Mercedes. Tear them apart after driving them. Go back to the drawing board and then do something great. Ford makes some amazing products now, so their luxury brand needs to be leading the way, not stumbling around in the dark with ho hum performance, design and interiors that are nice, but not great. BE GREAT or just deliver Town Cars to the Limo business. I know you can do better as I remember growing up in the '60's with a suicide door Lincoln Continental sedan that was the envy of all the men in our neighborhood. It was an awesome car, with an awesome engine that performed. It was supremely comfortable and quite with all the bells and whistles of the day as well as state of the art instrumentation (a band that went across the dash board for a speedometer that changed to red when you went above 70 MPH etc.) A very cool car. The Mark III with power windows that retracted back into the C pillar, hidden headlights and a style that was a stunner for it's day. It sold like hot cakes. My dad's was black with red leather interior. Common...do cars like that again. You guys would scare yourselves and sell a ton of them!

  • jmbkanter jmbkanter Posts:

    I just leased a 4-cylinder EcoBoost MKZ black on black with polished metal rims. It is gorgeous. I have been stopped in traffic by people telling me it is spectacular. I was a former Cadillac owner. I test drove for about 3-4 days and ATS. The car was very sporty but getting in and out of it was difficult. The cabin was claudstrophobic. I hated the chintzy detailing on the aluminum rim. When I sat in the MKZ I was impressed by the smoothness of it all. I didn't notice any problems with fit and finish. The ATS has cupholders in view while the MKZ has a cover for them. I find the entire experience of the car extraordinary. And yes, it is based on the Fusion that is a good car. But the tweaks the MKZ has in design really make it a noteworthy design. By the way, the Ecoboost enginee pulls strong, no turbo lag like on the ATS's 2.0T and I the sound deadining is superior. No wind noise at 80+. Lincoln is on its way back. I leased the car in Florida at Pines Lincoln -- absolutely gorgeous dealership. I thought I was at the Audi dealer. The service was extraordinary -- all the salesmen supper professional. I had a blast picking out this car. The lines of the MKZ are superb. Reminds me of the 60s when American cars where beautiful. This car is a knockout. It has a roof line and sweep to the tail that give it a very elegant and sharp look. I particularly love the clean lines of the interior -- very zen. The ATS was plasticky and overdone -- and claustrophobic. Huge trunk, reliable, strong engine, gorgeous interior/exterior. I have been complemented by Audi and BMW drivers! Things will just keep getting better. My next car is Lincoln Hybrid MKZ.

Leave a Comment
Edmunds Insurance Estimator

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

$118.75 per month*

Compare Popular Vehicles

Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411