For decades, American car shoppers have typically gravitated toward European and Japanese brands when it comes to entry-level luxury sedans. Lincoln has been trying to chip away at the market with the uniquely styled MKZ for years now with modest success. For 2017, the MKZ gets a new round of updates that should give it an even better chance of stealing a few luxury buyers who would prefer to buy American if the price and product are right.
The most obvious change to this upscale four-door is a restyled exterior that trades Lincoln's split-wing grille for a new look first introduced by the upcoming Continental full-size sedan. Available LED headlights and LED daytime running lights add character to the car's sleek lines. But it's inside where you'll really appreciate the 2017 MKZ's changes. Gone is the futuristic-looking but ultimately frustrating MyLincoln Touch climate and infotainment interface. In its place is Ford/Lincoln's latest Sync 3 interface, which is quicker and easier to use, and new physical buttons for many of the audio and climate controls.
On the performance front, the 2017 MKZ offers a new engine upgrade. Replacing last year's optional 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. It cranks out 400 horsepower when you order the MKZ with its optional all-wheel-drive system or 350 horsepower with front-wheel drive. Other than dedicated high-performance sedans such as the BMW M3, this is the most power you'll find in this class. If it's fuel economy you're after, though, there's the MKZ Hybrid, which delivers 40 mpg combined for the same price as the regular MKZ.
This year's MKZ is undoubtedly the best yet, but this is a very competitive category with a number of strong contenders worthy of your attention. High on the list of alternatives is the Lexus ES 350 (and related ES 300h hybrid), which stands out with its classy interior design and all-around refinement. If value is a priority, the Acura TLX is a solid choice. And if you're willing to spend a bit more, the redesigned Audi A4 and well-rounded BMW 3 Series are still standouts.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Lincoln MKZ include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side-impact airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. The programmable MyKey system allows parents to set limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume for young drivers. The Sync infotainment system also offers emergency crash notification that automatically dials 911 in the event of an airbag deployment.
Optional safety features include adaptive cruise control with pedestrian detection and automatic brake priming. Lane departure warning and intervention, a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-path warning and inflatable rear safety belts are also on the options list. The Reserve trim level comes with an integrated cellular connection that enables remote start, remote lock/unlock and a vehicle finder feature.
In government crash tests, the MKZ earned an overall score of five stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave last year's MKZ a top score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof-strength and whiplash protection (seat belts and head restraints) tests. A second-best score of "Acceptable" was awarded for the car's performance in the small-overlap frontal-offset test.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Lincoln MKZ and MKZ Hybrid are entry-level midsize luxury sedans that are offered in three trim levels (or "Series" in Lincoln-speak): Premiere, Select and Reserve. A special Black Label version is also available.
The Premiere base model comes well-equipped with 18-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, adaptive xenon headlights, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, LED taillights, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette upholstery, 10-way-adjustable front seats with heating, memory settings for driver seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat with ski pass-through, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Standard technology features a rearview camera, voice controls, Lincoln's Sync 3 infotainment interface, an 8-inch touchscreen display, Sync smartphone app integration, and an 11-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, two USB ports and an audio input jack.
Stepping up to the MKZ Select model gets you an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, power-folding outside mirrors, leather upholstery, genuine wood trim, front seats with four-way power lumbar, a power-adjustable steering wheel, enhanced interior ambient lighting, a 110-volt household-style power outlet and two rear-seat USB charging ports.
Optional for the Select is the Select Plus package, which adds a navigation system, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Reserve trim level has those features as standard, plus 19-inch wheels, a power trunklid, ventilated front seats and enhanced connectivity functionality (see Safety section).
There's also the Black Label trim. It comes equipped similarly to the Reserve but has an upgraded interior (upgraded and extended leather upholstery and a simulated suede headliner, most notably) and a choice of three unique themes. The Black Label also comes with a host of special services including a mobile showroom, remote vehicle delivery, pickup and drop-off of your car for service work, an extended premium maintenance plan and more.
Most options are grouped into packages. A Climate package that bundles automatic high-beam control, automatic wipers, a windshield wiper de-icer, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats. The Technology package includes adaptive cruise control, a forward sensing system with pre-collision assist, lane keeping assist and an automated parking system (both parallel and perpendicular parking).
The Reserve model can be had with a Luxury package that contains LED headlights and a premium Revel Ultima audio system with 20 speakers and HD radio. There's also a Driver's package that includes 19-inch polished alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, torque vectoring (with the turbo V6 and AWD), painted brake calipers, multi-contour front seats, and distinctive interior and exterior trim details. The Climate and Technology packages are available here as well.
Major stand-alone options include the choice of 19-inch polished alloy wheels, a traditional power sunroof or a panoramic moonroof, a power rear sunshade, inflatable rear safety belts, and a premium Revel audio system with HD radio.
The 2017 Lincoln MKZ is offered with a choice of three powertrains. The standard engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission with a push-button gear shift and front-wheel drive are standard; all-wheel drive is available as an option. The EPA estimates you'll get 24 mpg in combined driving (21 city/31 highway), which is about average for an entry-luxury sedan with a base engine. Expect a bit less with all-wheel drive.
Select and Reserve models can also be had with a new turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (late availability). This engine will appeal to driving enthusiasts with its 350 hp and 400 lb-ft on tap with front-wheel drive. Opt for all-wheel drive and output jumps to 400 hp. Fuel economy is 21 mpg combined with front-drive and 20 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
The MKZ Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard, as is front-wheel drive. Total system power is 188 hp. In prior Edmunds testing, an MKZ Hybrid accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, which is about a second slower than the Lexus ES 300h. According to the EPA, expect to get 40 mpg (41 city/38 highway).
The standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is respectable in terms of power and character, and most buyers will find it suitable for everyday motoring. But the newly available 3.0-liter V6 adds a certain thrill factor that you just don't get with the standard engine. We've yet to test it, however, so check back later for performance numbers and driving impressions.
On the move, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ feels surprisingly sporty even if its handling isn't quite best-in-class. And when paired with the standard 18-inch wheels and all-season tires, the suspension delivers the kind of comfortable ride quality you'd expect from a Lincoln. Add the optional sport suspension and 19-inch wheels, and some might find the ride a little too firm for daily commuting, though.
The MKZ Hybrid drives very much like its gasoline-only siblings, with a smooth ride and solid handling. The gasoline-electric powertrain offers adequate acceleration even in passing situations, though stepping hard on the gas pedal can cause the droning engine note that's common to cars equipped with continuously variable automatic transmissions. The nonlinear feel of the regenerative braking system can be disconcerting at first; other recent hybrids have gotten better at having a more natural brake pedal feel.
The cabin of the 2017 Lincoln MKZ is all about the seamless integration of luxury and technology. In terms of luxury, the upper trim levels have a posh look and feel, and the available Black Label models raise the bar with premium leather upholstery with unique stitching and genuine wood trim.
As far as technology goes, the interior can be fitted out with low-profile but highly useful features, including the adaptive cruise control that can be used even in stop-and-go traffic and the handy Sync voice-control system. Interestingly, one of the best details is Lincoln's decision to replace the MKZ's previous touch-sensitive audio system controls with more old-fashioned climate, volume and tuning knobs. The new Sync 3 interface is also an improvement. It is more responsive to inputs, and its large virtual buttons are easier to press accurately than the old system's tiny boxes and bars. The optional navigation system offers pinch-to-zoom and swiping motions, effectively mimicking a smartphone interface.
The front seats offer good comfort, especially the optional multi-contour versions with their infinite adjustment possibilities. The sloping rear roofline means limited headroom for tall rear-seat passengers, but the legroom in back is quite generous.
At 15.4 cubic feet, the MKZ's trunk is good-sized and is made more practical thanks to the standard 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks. Hybrid models make do with a smaller 11.1-cubic-foot trunk because of the gasoline/electric powertrain's large battery pack.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.