Check out the all-new 2013 Lincoln MKZ!
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With Mercury consigned to history, and Ford on a roll, all eyes at FoMoCo headquarters are on the Lincoln division and its struggle to attain a little more r-e-s-p-e-c-t. That's the mission of this new Fusion-based sedan, the 2013 MKZ displayed at last January's Detroit show as a concept and in the New York show spotlight in production duds.
There's not a lot of difference between the concept and the showroom-ready version, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view. But what lies beneath?
As noted, this is more than a rebadged Fusion?a looker in its own right. The windshield has a steeper rake than the current MKZ's, and the lengthened rear window creates a faster silhouette, good for a 10-percent aero improvement, according to Lincoln. (As an aside, we congratulate the brand for refraining from using the already trite "four-door coupe" label.)
The new split-wing grille is more graceful than the one adorning the current MKZ, the LED headlights turn with steering input, and the rear end sports full-width LED taillights.
Interior furnishings are rich and tasteful, with a sweeping double-wing dashboard design punctuated by the center control stack, which is dominated by a new eight-inch LCD touch screen displaying the latest version of MyLincoln Touch (which is how you say MyFord Touch if you work for Lincoln). The system is another standard feature.
Instruments are displayed on a 10.1-inch LCD cluster in front of the driver, and incorporate the Ford/Lincoln Sync telematics, including MyLincoln Touch. The infotainment system can, of course, be operated via voice commands.
The audio options start with an 11-speaker standard setup; a 700-watt, 14-speaker THX II?certified system is available as an upgrade. And on a politically correct note, Lincoln assures its potential buyers that all interior wood trim was "responsibly harvested."
The pièce-de-résistance: a vast retractable glass roof that Lincoln calls "one of the largest openings available on any current sedan" at 15.2 square feet, and claims that the car maintains the same body-shell rigidity as if it had a conventional steel top.
Offered in conventional and hybrid editions, the MKZ shares some but not all of its powertrain hardware with the Fusion. The base engine is Ford's by-now-familiar 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo four, rated for 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque and armed with projected EPA economy ratings of 22 mpg city/33 highway. The gasoline-electric MKZ hybrid employs a 2.0-liter internal-combustion four and an electric motor that combine for a max of 188 hp. Fuel-economy expectations for the system have yet to be determined.
As revealed, the MKZ lacks a pure-electric option. However, it does offer a 3.7-liter V-6 good for 300 hp and 277 lb-ft?an engine that will be missing from the Fusion lineup. Lincoln looks for 18/26 mpg ratings for this one when matched with all-wheel drive; estimates were not provided for the front-wheel-drive version.
Both gasoline engines will be mated with six-speed automatic transmissions?not the eight-speed that's been rumored?and both will be available with front- or all-wheel drive. These transmissions replace a traditional mechanical shift lever with a five-button interface for park, neutral, and reverse, as well as drive and sport for forward gears. The hybrid will use a continuously variable automatic, and is front-drive only.
Lincoln Drive Control
Yet another MKZ point of pride is Lincoln Drive Control, a standard feature that orchestrates the operation of a number of vehicle systems, including the engine, transmission, electric power steering, suspension, stability control, traction control, and active noise control. Of particular interest under this heading is Lincoln's Continuously Controlled Damping, which provides instantaneous shock-absorber adjustment (as many as 50 adjustments per second, according to Lincoln) based on three system presets (Sport/Normal/Comfort) and driver inputs.
Like almost all carmakers, particularly premium brands, Lincoln is moving toward more and more passive electronic systems that monitor what the driver is doing, what's going on around him or her, and deciding if/when to go from passive to active.
An MKZ example of this is the Lane Keeping System, which uses a camera mounted on the back of the rearview mirror to track the lane markers ahead of the car to see if you're using more than your fair share of the road. If/when the system decides that's the case, its alert and, if needed, driver-assist functions activate to guide you back between the lines. Similarly, the optional radar-based adaptive cruise control system includes a collision-warning function with a brake-support feature.
What will this new MKZ cost? We won't have an answer to that one until later this year, when it goes on sale as a 2013 model. Presumably, with all the expensive electronic equipment as standard, it will be at least a little pricier than the current car.
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