The redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ is meant to be Lincoln's salvation in a competitive market segment that now more than ever requires a unique look and exclusive features to stand out. Lincoln certainly did its homework and the 2013 MKZ seems promising at first glance.
First off, the 2013 MKZ looks nothing like the 2013 Ford Fusion; the current Fusion and MKZ share slab-sided exterior profiles, powertrains and suspension setups. While there's still plenty of Fusion in the MKZ, features like a V-6 engine, a more sophisticated suspension and exclusive safety features such as inflatable rear seat belts will hopefully help separate the two in buyers' minds.
The look hasn't changed much from the Lincoln MKZ Concept seen only a few months ago at the 2012 Detroit auto show. It looks like the side mirrors, wheels, seats and the addition of door handles are the most noticeable differences.
The Lincoln MKZ's styling stands out as long as you're looking at it from the rear or side: The raised trunk lid, integrated spoiler and exhausts, sculpted rear bumper and massive slab-sided rear fenders won't be mistaken for anything else on the road. The large Lincoln decal on the MKZ's back will be an excellent way for the automaker to get the word out about the new Lincoln, too. The side profile is elegant, but it could easily be mistaken for an Audi A7, from the wheel designs to the sweeping roofline. However, the short front overhang and snubbed-nosed face almost give what otherwise is a luxurious design that sort of incomplete look typically seen on a front-wheel-drive compact sedan. Everything looks fantastic on the Lincoln MKZ but its face, which is probably a testament to Lincoln's transient design history; supposedly, the new split-wing grille pays homage to the 1938 Lincoln Zephyr. Lincoln's tiny front headlights — featuring LED articulating lenses that turn with the steering wheel — are a nice touch, too.
Of course, we'd be remiss not to mention the power-retractable glass roof option; the 15.2-square-foot glass panel is one of the largest available on any vehicle, says Lincoln. The tempered glass maintains the structural strength of a steel-roof vehicle while providing a sun-protection factor of 100+, according to Lincoln.
Under the hood, the Lincoln MKZ almost features as many powertrain options as the versatile 2013 Ford Fusion. The MKZ comes standard with a 237-horsepower, 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Preliminary fuel-economy figures for it are 22/33 mpg city/highway. An optional 300-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 is unique to the MKZ and will get 18/26 mpg with all-wheel drive. All- or front-wheel drive is available with either powertrain. Like the 2012 Lincoln MKZ, there will be a hybrid powertrain; the 2013 MKZ Hybrid gets the 2013 Fusion Hybrid's 141-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 47-hp electric motor mated to a CVT. We'd expect gas mileage to be similar to that of the Fusion Hybrid, which is estimated to get 47/44 mpg.
While the architecture of the MKZ's suspension is the same as the Fusion's, the model does get an adaptive suspension system, which was first seen on the 2013 Lincoln MKS standard.
Despite recent controversies about the usefulness of Ford's capacitive-touch interfaces, the automaker has gone full bore with the system on the redesigned 2013 MKZ. The cabin features a 10.1-inch LCD instrument cluster and a buttonless center console with touch-sensitive sliders and controls standard. Lincoln even MyTouched the transmission: it's now a row of push-buttons along the driver's side of the center console. Umm, OK. The new multilevel center console features an 8-inch LCD touch-screen, too. Standard features include an 11-speaker audio system, genuine wood and metal-toned trim, leather upholstery, heated front seats, 10-way power driver's seat, remote start, a noise canceling system and cabin filtration system, among other niceties.
The MKZ is Ford's first sedan to offer the carmaker's inflatable seat belts for rear passengers. The MKZ also gets Ford's Lane Keeping System, first seen on the 2013 Ford Explorer and 2013 Ford Fusion. The MKZ gets adaptive cruise control, collision warning and brake support system. A self-parking system and blind spot monitoring system, including cross traffic alert, are optional.
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ goes on sale later this year.