Two months after we climbed out of the 2013 Ford Fusion we found ourselves climbing into the 2013 Lincoln MKZ. This presented a conflict. Lincoln has been owned by Ford since 1922, that isn’t the problem. In a time when the Ford was making the most popular cars, it was Edsel Ford’s vision for Lincoln to make the best cars. Or so the Lincoln Motor Company narrative says. In that same mindset, Lincoln presents us the new MKZ. The conflict, for us, is that the Lincoln isn’t remarkably different than the Ford Fusion. Trying to review the MKZ without mentioning the Fusion isn’t possible, so we got it out of the way early. So does the MKZ lean more toward’s Lincoln’s past or future?
Our week with the Lincoln started out dry, but in typical Upstate, NY fashion that changed quickly. After the photos for this review were taken, we didn’t see much more of the Smoke Quartz tricoat through the rain or snow. That made us thankful for the optional AWD system behind the 2.0L EcoBoost engine. That’s the same 240hp engine, 6-speed transmission, and AWD system that we tested in the Fusion. And since that drivetrain sits on the same chassis, the MKZ is quite pleasing to drive. It’s deft for its size and can be thrown around well enough to upset the otherwise comfortable rear occupants. There is a hybrid and a V6 option as well, the latter also offering optional AWD. Similar to our week with the Fusion, the MKZ returned 23.5mpg over 700 miles. But what stands out about this car more than the driving dynamic is how you interface with it.
Sitting behind the wheel of the Lincoln feels different. Our staff isn’t of the age to recall push-button transmissions, but Lincoln has brought the technology back in the MKZ. Without the limitation of a gear selector, they redesigned the entire center console. The controls swoop down to a higher center armrest built on flying buttress-like supports. Your arm rests comfortably on the flat console. Rather than close in the empty space beneath, they left it open for storage. It gives the interior of the Lincoln a completely unique and open feel. There’s no gear selector to interfere with the touch-controls. This was the best experience with haptic controls we’ve had. It doesn’t feel like you’re adjusting the volume, it feels like you’re piloting the USS Enterprise. Our only complaint is that the transmission buttons have the same beep as the radio controls, which is confusing to the ear.
The starship feelings are supported by the host technology. Our MKZ had both the Reserve Equipment Group and Technology Package. This added all the same driver’s aids we found on the Fusion Titanium; parking sensors with rear camera and cross-traffic alert, active park assist, adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist, and navigation system. There’s also comfort features like the power trunk, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, and heated/cooled seats to keep everyone comfortable. Just be sure to have the key available to open the trunk. The release button is hidden down low above the recessed license plate. In wintery conditions, this area filled with salt and snow.
The Reserve Equipment Group also added interior accent lighting and LED accent lights in the front fascia for some modern curb appeal. While we weren’t a fan of the optional 19″ polished alloy wheels, we did like the looks of the MKZ. The retro chrome grilles that run directly into the narrow headlights present a stately and streamlined appearance. Around back, the rear glass slopes onto a black panel to help visually extend the high rear deck. The long and narrow rear lights work well with the sharp overhang. The only thing we found puzzling was the overhang of the doors over the sideskirts. It gave the profile of the MKZ a portly appearance that doesn’t fit the design.
Our biggest problem, as it was in the beginning, is the Ford Fusion. It arrived with the same powertrain and nearly the same options for over $7,000 less. We wish we could tell you that the MKZ is $7,000 more car because we like the Lincoln. But it isn’t. However, it was more pleasant to spend time in than the Fusion, even without its optional panoramic sunroof. The center console is less of a novelty and more of a sign of the times. Whether we like it or not, there is a trend towards less physical controls. Lincoln’s retro design manages to be a nod towards the future. If that’s the kind of trend that Lincoln can capitalize on then we look forward to Lincoln’s future.
|2013 Lincoln MKZ
|Smoke Quartz Tricoat||$495|
|Reserve Equipment Group||$3150|
|19″ polished alloy wheels||$750|
|Rear inflatable seatbelts||$195|
|As Tested MSRP||$45,550|