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Associated more with cars driven by your grandmother or a New York chauffeur, Lincoln has struggled in recent years to earn a more prestigious image. One of the most important cars to establishing a new course is the Lincoln MKZ, the brand's representative in the ultra-competitive entry-level luxury sedan category.
The first-generation MKZ wasn't especially successful in its mission, as there was little differentiation between the MKZ and the Ford Fusion upon which it was based. However, the second-generation MKZ represents another chance. Though still mechanically based on the Fusion, there are substantially more visual and mechanical delineations between the two. Unlike before, you'd be hard-pressed to tell they're related. More importantly, though, the new Lincoln MKZ is a far more appealing luxury sedan that can legitimately be considered alongside established players.
Used Lincoln MKZ Models
The previous Lincoln MKZ was sold from 2007-'12. (Technically, the car debuted for 2006 but was called the Zephyr for that first year.) Like the current MKZ, the first-generation MKZ was mechanically similar to the Ford Fusion of its time period, but there was substantially less differentiation between the two cars. Although the Lincoln had unique front and rear ends, in profile they appeared to be carbon copies of each other. Passenger space was no different, and both felt very similar behind the wheel.
It's important to note that the MKZ received a significant refresh for 2010. Cars produced before then can be identified by their more restrained, squared-off grille. The cabin featured a retro-inspired design consisting of an upright dash, sharp angles and a large horizontal strip of wood. Unfortunately, the quality of materials was barely better than that of the Fusion, and the various buttons and knobs were no different from those found in a Ford.
Under the hood, these MKZ models came with the same 3.0-liter V6 found in the Fusion that produced 221 hp and 205 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission were standard, while all-wheel drive was an option for all but '07. That first-year MKZ was also not available with rear parking sensors or the Sync electronics interface. Stability control was also unavailable until '09, which was a glaring omission in the luxury segment.
In general we would not recommend the MKZ in these early years. We don't think the changes made for 2010 were enough to make it a compelling alternate to Audis or BMWs, even though the MKZ was indeed greatly improved.
For that 2010 update, Lincoln ditched the retro feel for a more contemporary approach. The materials were improved, the myriad buttons and knobs were now unique to Lincoln and the number of standard features increased. The exterior transformation was less significant, but it did adopt the more dramatic waterfall grille and bolder headlights inspired by other Lincoln models at the time.
Under the hood, the MKZ received a new 3.5-liter V6 that produced 263 hp and 249 lb-ft of torque. Once again, a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive were standard, with all-wheel drive an option. This powertrain was shared with the special Fusion Sport model, but now it at least produced sufficient power for the class.
Also new was a Sport Appearance package, which despite the name actually provided a sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels that made the MKZ surprisingly fun to drive. The ride was a bit firm, though, so most consumers will likely prefer the more comfortable standard setup that still provides fairly nimble handling.
For 2011, the MKZ Hybrid debuted. This, not surprisingly, applied the MKZ's styling and cabin to the Ford Fusion Hybrid powertrain. A combination of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motor and battery pack produced a total of 191 hp and returned 39 mpg combined. That made it the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan of the time.
In total, a used Lincoln MKZ produced between 2010 and 2012 will get you a lot of equipment for the money and a car that's surprisingly fun to drive despite the reputation of its brand. However, most other luxury sedans are still more desirable overall, and a loaded Ford Fusion will bring with it much of the same attributes for even less money.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Lincoln MKZ page.