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2011 Lincoln MKZ

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$34,645

starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown

Sedan

Body style

5

Seating capacity

189.8” x 56.9”

Dimensions

Front-wheel drive

Drivetrain

Overview

The good:

  • V-6 power
  • Smooth transmission
  • Steering feel and response
  • Quiet cabin
  • Highway poise

The bad:

  • Sport suspension's overly firm ride
  • Limited headroom
  • AWD's gas-mileage penalty
  • Low-grade parking-brake handle
  • Roughly finished sunglasses holder

1 trim

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2011 Lincoln MKZ trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best Sedans for 2024

Notable features

  • FWD or AWD
  • New hybrid model
  • 263-hp V-6
  • Standard heated and cooled front seats
  • Optional blind spot warning system with backup camera

2011 Lincoln MKZ review: Our expert's take

By Mike Hanley

Editor’s note: This review was written in August 2009 about the 2010 Lincoln MKZ. Little of substance has changed with this year’s model. To see what’s new for 2011, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

The MKZ is Lincoln’s entry-level luxury sedan, but with its 2010 redesign there’s not much that’s entry-level about it. After driving the MKZ for a week, I’m impressed with its strong powertrain, premium interior and array of technology, but shoppers might want to think twice about the Sport Appearance Package, as its firm sport suspension seems out of place on this sedan.

Toothy Grille
The MKZ’s styling is starting to grow on me. The front end is distinctive. It gets a new tooth-like grille for 2010, which bears a closer resemblance to models like Lincoln’s MKS full-size sedan and MKT full-size crossover.

After you get beyond the grille — which I didn’t really care for when I first saw the car at an auto show — the rest of the sedan is rather ordinary and looks a lot like its siblings, the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Sure, it has different taillights that sweep across the trunk lid, but otherwise it’s similar.

Ride & Handling
The optional Sport Appearance Package includes 18-inch aluminum wheels and a sport suspension, and the result is a notably firm ride — think all-wheel-drive Acura TL suspension tuning, not Lexus ES. Equipped this way, the MKZ faithfully tells you about all the rough patches in the road, whether you want to know about them or not. I suspect many buyers considering a Lincoln would prefer not to know about them — especially because there isn’t sports-car-like handling to go along with the taut ride quality. I haven’t driven an MKZ with the regular suspension and standard 17-inch wheels, but I suspect it offers better ride comfort.

Despite the sportier setup, the MKZ cruises smoothly on the highway when the pavement is good. The interior is quiet, though you start to hear a little wind noise when approaching 80 mph.

It doesn’t take a lot of extra care to steer the MKZ — whether you’re traveling country roads or the highway. The main reason is that the steering has a solid, weighty feel when traveling in a straight path that makes it easy to keep the car between the lines. This heft also prevents you from inadvertently jostling the wheel.

The MKZ’s steering feel is different from what you’ll find in a Lexus ES, which has well-greased, light-effort steering that’s become synonymous with Toyota’s luxury brand. The MKZ doesn’t go that route, and I like it for that. Its steering is by no means too heavy, but the extra effort needed to turn the wheel makes you feel connected to the car in a way the Lexus can’t match. Overall, the MKZ’s steering feel and response are among its better characteristics.

V-6 Power
The MKZ’s powertrain is another highlight. The 3.5-liter V-6 delivers strong acceleration; there’s plenty of power to get you up to speed quickly and effortlessly. The large-displacement V-6 also offers plenty of torque at low speeds. Acceleration is accompanied by a satisfying growl, but you can’t hear the engine at all when cruising on the highway.

The sedan’s six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, and kickdowns are easy to initiate by simply pressing harder on the gas pedal. The transmission now includes a clutchless-manual mode, which lets you control gear changes by nudging the console gear selector up and down. However, because the MKZ’s automatic is good at what it does, you probably won’t feel the need to override it.

The MKZ comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available for an extra $1,890. It’ll also cost you more at the pump, as the all-wheel-drive model gets an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg city/highway, versus 18/27 mpg for the front-wheel-drive sedan.

The Inside
I’m not a fan of all-gray interiors, which seem drab to me — even more so than all-black designs — but that’s what our MKZ had. Getting past my own preferences, however, let me appreciate a cabin with mostly good-quality materials and easy-to-use controls. However, low-grade plastic for the parking-brake handle, a roughly finished sunglasses holder and a sizable gap along the side of a storage-cubby door near the base of the center control panel stood out in the otherwise upscale cabin.

MKZs come standard with leather-upholstered, heated-and-cooled front seats. The seats are supportive and offer a good driving position, but my own seat started to get a little sore when the drive stretched to a few hours. My back didn’t have any complaints, though.

The front of the cabin isn’t the most spacious, and this is mainly because of the MKZ’s low roofline, which limits headroom for taller occupants — especially with our test car’s optional moonroof, which characteristically steals a little more space. At 6-foot-1, I didn’t have much headroom to spare. Over-shoulder visibility when checking blind spots is good.

The rear bench seat is also finished in leather. It offers passable room for adults, but there’s not much extra space. Taller passengers sit with their knees elevated, so there’s not much thigh support.

A 60/40-split folding backseat is standard, with releases in the trunk to fold the backrests. Unlike many sedans that offer folding backrests, the ones in the MKZ are spring-loaded, so when you pull the release handle they’re intended to automatically flop forward. That’s what happens with the smaller backrest section, but not the larger one — maybe it’s too heavy.

The downside is that it takes more effort to put the spring-loaded cushions back in place, as you have to fight that spring a little. In the end, you probably don’t need a spring at all.

MKZ in the Market
Despite the MKZ’s positive attributes, it’s going to have a tough go of it in the market. The competition is strong and getting stronger; besides the aforementioned TL and ES, the MKZ is up against a redesigned Buick LaCrosse and the impressive Infiniti G sedan. Also, luxury cars are statement cars. Lexus stands for refinement, and Acura for the latest technology. I’m not sure what statement the MKZ makes, and I question whether it can cut through the noise and connect with consumers. It will be unfortunate if it can’t, though; luxury-car shoppers will find a lot to like in the new MKZ if they take the time to give it a look.

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Photo of Mike Hanley
Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Cars.com Research section. Email Mike Hanley

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.8
  • Interior 4.7
  • Performance 4.8
  • Value 4.7
  • Exterior 4.8
  • Reliability 4.8
Write a review

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

So glad I found it.

I love this car! It’s stylish, comfortable and dependable. I bought it in 2012, I’m the 2nd owner of this beauty (it was love at first sight). Besides tires and a battery Ive only replaced the starter and the brakes. It has never failed its state mandated inspection. It’s red and still looks as beautiful as it did in 2012. Trunk is roomy and holds everything I have to haul around. I would give it ********** because 5 stars is just not enough for this car!!

5.0

Wow Iuxury!

I never knew luxury could be so affordable. Great styling, handles fantastic with excellent performance. I'm even surprised at how good the gas mileage is on such a large car.

5.0

A Lincoln MKZ

This car is a phenomenal car it get you where you need to go with a little luxury to this is why I wanted it in the first place I recommend it to anyone

See all 43 consumer reviews

Safety

Based on the 2011 Lincoln MKZ base trim.
Combined side rating front seat
5
Combined side rating rear seat
3
Frontal barrier crash rating driver
4
Frontal barrier crash rating passenger
3
Overall frontal barrier crash rating
3
Overall rating
4
Overall side crash rating
4
Risk of rollover
10.5%
Rollover rating
4
Side barrier rating
4
Side barrier rating driver
5
Side barrier rating passenger rear seat
3
Side pole rating driver front seat
4

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Lincoln
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
48 months/50,000 miles
Corrosion
60 months/unlimited distance
Powertrain
72 months/70,000 miles
Hybrid electric
96 months/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance
72 months/70,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
Current plus five previous model years / Less than 60,000 actual miles
Basic warranty terms
60 months or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) Comprehensive Limited warranty
Powertrain
6 years/70,000 miles
Dealer certification required
200-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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