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Eric
11-02-2006, 02:18 PM
2007 Lincoln MKZ
By Eric Peters

Remember Rocky vs. Mr. T? The third "Rocky" movie -- the one where Stallone had to get back in the ring against a scary opponent (Mr. T) after the humiliating loss of his title -- and his self-respect? That's where Lincoln is right now. Having been bounced out of the luxury car ring like a flabby palooka, Ford's once-strong luxury division is hoping for a comeback.

And the three punch combo it is hoping will do the trick is MKZ, MKX and Navigator -- all of them new for 2007.

The '07 MKZ sedan is a tweaked, up-rated and re-named version of the Zephyr entry-luxury sedan that bowed last year. It's a good-looking car, with a modernized, "wide-mouthed" version of the trademark Lincoln waterfall grille up front, crisp styling pleats pressed into the hood and trunk -- and chrome accents (outside mirrors, trim rings around the fog lights) finishing it all off. The effect is neither garish nor "old man-y" -- and very much in keeping with the Lincoln history of subtle elegance and good taste.

The MKZ's signature functional features, meanwhile, are a new 3.5 liter V-6 good for 265 horsepower, tied to a new six-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel-drive. The new engine runs on regular 87 octane unleaded, too -- in addition to being one of the most powerful standard engines in this class.

The updated '07 model also gets a new-theme interior with retro-Lincoln styling cues centered on a "twin breadbox" dash layout that will be familiar to those who can remember the "Hawaii Five-Oh"-era Lincolns of the late '60s and early '70s. Light colors (creamy tans and off-whites) for the dashpad and door panels and "satin nickel" accents -- and indirect puddle lighting -- give the car a soft and welcoming vibe.

It's distinctive; it's different --- and whether it's a good or bad move, only time and market reaction will tell. It's definitely a departure from the rounded/elliptical, hyper-aggressive sport-bike-like shapes that seem to be everywhere these days. Other retro touches include an analog clock in the center stack and high-visibility numerical gauge facings (with LED backlighting) instead of digital stuff, which is also different -- and nice because it's so immediately self-explanatory. There are no mice, no inscrutable icons to decipher. You won't need a 200-page manual -- or a degree in systems engineering -- to figure out the MKZ's controls.

Just get in and drive.

For the (hopefully) knock-out blow, Lincoln is pricing the base front-drive MKZ at just under $30k ($29,175) with the all-wheel-drive version coming in at $31,050. This is substantially less than import competitors like the Lexus ES350 (which starts more than three grand higher at $33,170 and isn't offered with AWD at all) and undercuts domestic competitor models like the Caddy CTS -- which does have a manual transmission (the MKZ is auto-only) but doesn't have AWD. You also have to spend $32,520 to get the rear-drive CTS with its step-up 2.6 liter V-6 -- which at 255 horsepower is still not as stout as the MKZ's standard engine.

Lincoln says its demographic/marketing surveys find that likely buyers in the entry-luxury sedan market increasingly want an AWD-equipped car. And unlike the MKZ, many of the current entrants simply don't offer it -- or if they do, it costs many thousands more to get it.

The MKZ also compares quite favorably with middle-brand, mid-priced V-6 almost-luxury sedans like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry that don't have the prestige brand nameplate going for them -- or the all-wheel-drive, either. The MKZ's powerful standard engine and available AWD also put big distance between it and other domestic-brand rivals, like the front-drive-only (and barely 200-hp) Buick LaCrosse.

The MKZ can be fitted with heated and cooled seats, a kicking THX premium audio rig, GPS navigation, Sirius satellite radio -- and has a best-in-class 15.8 cubic foot trunk (as well as nearly three feet of rear-seat legroom). All MKZ's come standard with Ford's Personal Safety System -- which means side-impact air bags for the front seat occupants, full-length curtain air bags with "roll fold" technology designed to make sure the bags deploy between the occupant and the side glass, even if the occupant is not in the ideal position -- and ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and traction control.

The only downside is the Lincoln's not as sporty as some might like -- despite its strong on-paper credentials. At least relative to something like a BMW 3-Series or Acura TL.

The MKZ has good power, but isn't really happy when pushed hard. The all-wheel-drive model has a firm grip on the pavement but the steering is pretty doughy and the suspension seems to react just slightly after you make an input, instead of delivering that immediate connectivity you find in a Beemer -- or even a Cadillac, these days. The six-speed automatic doesn't seem very eager to play (fairly languid upshifts designed for softness rather than sport feel; won't hold lower gears when powering through turns) and, bottom line, the suspension tuning's not set up for enthusiast driving in the way a BMW 3-Series is. This car doesn't dive eagerly into turns, daring you to push yourself closer to your own limits in order to test the car's.

On the other hand, for quiet cruising along the freeway at a steady 70-80-something -- it works very well. The cabin's quiet, the ride is soft on your backside (but not so soft the car wallows like an old Buick -- or an old Lincoln, for that matter), the optional seat heaters and coolers keep you comfortable no matter the outside temperature and the optional THX stereo's very good. Everything works well and is easy to operate -- and not at all hard o the eyes, either.

So if a three-series BMW is a bit too aggressive -- and a Lexus ES a touch too expensive, then the MKZ could be a good middle ground choice.

Check it out and see for yourself.

END

Dave Brand
11-03-2006, 10:00 AM
It may look better 'in the flesh', but in the pictures I've seen it just looks like a generic car with a 'Lincoln' grille. Cover the grille & it could be anything....

Eric
11-03-2006, 01:02 PM
It may look better 'in the flesh', but in the pictures I've seen it just looks like a generic car with a 'Lincoln' grille. Cover the grille & it could be anything....


There's an element of truth there, to be sure - then again, you could level the same criticism at a lot of other cars, too. Including, for instance the current Camry and Accord, or theLexus ES.

The big difference is those cars have an established reputation - and loyal following.

Lincoln has neither - and that could doom this venture a lot more effectively than subdued styling!

jillsuncle
11-26-2006, 10:06 PM
That grille really does shout - Nouveau Riche <-- Bogus. I can say what I want - and Eman can't. :o

He needs those clueless geezers from Lincoln Mercury - Bah Humbug! No wonder America is in so much trouble.

V8Ace :D

Eric
11-29-2006, 10:36 AM
That grille really does shout - Nouveau Riche <-- Bogus. I can say what I want - and Eman can't. :o

He needs those clueless geezers from Lincoln Mercury - Bah Humbug! No wonder America is in so much trouble.

V8Ace :D


I wish they'd not given up on the rear-drive LS; that was a good start - and potentially, a great luxo-sport sedan that could have been a BMW contender.

This new one ain't even close; but maybe Lincoln just wants to cash in on the Geezers andbecome the new Buick...

dBrong
11-30-2006, 12:32 AM
There's an element of truth there, to be sure - then again, you could level the same criticism at a lot of other cars, too. Including, for instance the current Camry and Accord, or theLexus ES.

The big difference is those cars have an established reputation - and loyal following.


These Detroit dudes had it all - almost a monopoly on the US car market. They had the reputation. They blew it by trying to scam their loyal customers by reintroducing shitbox cars - with the badge of an earlier 'great' car. They also blew it by offering essentially the same car under a dizzying array of makes & models.

I don't believe there is any 'magic pill'. Ford and GM have lost, period. They are either waiting to die, or to be absorbed by an Asian car company.

It is inconsequential what model / what HP / what features / what price. It doesn't matter. They lost. It's just a matter of time.

More frequently than I like, I meet with clients who have paid a boat load of money for software that either doesn't work, or is so inflexible it can't be changed. It is a very sad time to tell the people that what you have is a POS. As one of my younger business partners says "you can take a turd and dip it in chocolate - but you still got a turd".

So for American car companies. Note I said 'companies'.

Eric
11-30-2006, 08:14 AM
There is a lot of truth to all of that... though GM seems to be making something of a recovery, at least as regards some of its brands (notably Cadillac). But Ford is terminal right now... and it's anyone's guess whether it can keep on keeping on for much longer without a bail-out or a buy-out!

chiph
11-30-2006, 04:16 PM
I saw one of the Lincoln pickups the other day. It must have been one of the 30 or so that they sold. :D

Chip H.

dBrong
11-30-2006, 06:04 PM
I saw one of the Lincoln pickups the other day. It must have been one of the 30 or so that they sold.

Don't you get a free matching set of goldchain necklace and bracelet? Let's see the target group... over 50, somewhat bald, has a beer gut :)

They should probably include an 8-track for those guys.

Eric
11-30-2006, 09:39 PM
I saw one of the Lincoln pickups the other day. It must have been one of the 30 or so that they sold. :D

Chip H.



..bet the guy got a great deal!