By KBB.com Editors
For 2006 Ford introduced its all-new Ford Fusion mid-size sedan and divisional platform mates Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr, all based on Japanese partner Mazda's well-respected Mazda6 front-wheel-drive architecture. All three have earned media praise, strong quality reviews and good first-year sales. Now comes a new, more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, available "intelligent" all-wheel drive andconsistent with Lincoln's new naming conventiona brand new moniker (pronounced "M-K-Z") confusingly similar to those of its new MKX crossover and soon-to-come MKS luxury sedan stablemates and, as far as that goes, far too many other entries whose makers seem to pick their names from a can of alphabet soup.You'll Like This Car If...
If a boldly styled, beautifully trimmed, solidly built, well equipped and reasonably priced American mid-size luxury sedan that feels and drives more like a European import might fulfill your needs and desires, this may be an excellent choice.You May Not Like This Car If...
Lincoln long competed head-to-head with GM's Cadillac at the top of the U.S. market but has lost a lot of luster in recent years. If brand image ranks higher than comfort, value and substance on your priority list, you may want to look elsewhere.What's New for 2007
Handsome, classy and nicely turned out, Lincoln's first all-new sedan since the Jaguar-based, rear-wheel-drive LS is well suited to compete with "near-luxury" imports and attract more affluent buyers to Lincoln-Mercury showrooms, and the renamed 2007 MKZ's much-improved powertrain and other upgrades make it that much more competitive. But why jettison an excellent name with strong Lincoln heritage in favor of a soulless acronym after just one year? We think this car is good enough to succeed on its own, whatever it's called, but the label change is confusing.Driving It Driving Impressions
The Lincoln MKZ's specially tuned, fully independent suspension rides a bit softer than the more sport-tuned Ford Fusion's but retains nearly all of the fun-to-drive Fusion's responsiveness and agility. Partly due to the car's stiff structure, its rack-and-pinion steering is precise, with good on-center feel, and transmits little vibration back to the steering wheel due to its mounting on the isolated front subframe. The available "intelligent" all-wheel drive monitors and predicts traction at all four wheels and delivers torque to those with the best grip. There is an overdrive lock-out switch for the six-speed transmission (primarily for hilly roads) but, unfortunately, no way to manually control gear choice and shift timing.Favorite Features
Standard Duratec 35 V6 Engine
Ford has long needed a smoother, more powerful, state-of-the-art V6 for its upscale mid-size entries, and this is it. Along with strong performance, it delivers respectable fuel economy at 19 EPA city miles per gallon and 27 on the highway with two-wheel drive, and one less mile per gallon on both tests with available four-wheel drive.
Optional THX II-Certified Premium Audio
This 600-watt, 14-speaker system delivers surround-sound worthy of an upscale cinema. An MP3 audio input jack and SIRIUS Satellite Radio are also available.
Inside the ultra-quiet, premium-quality cabin are generous portions of real wood, satin nickel and chrome accents. Rear-seat space is surprisingly generous with more than three feet of legroom. The trunk is a best-in-class 15.8 cubic feet, with a flat floor and low liftover height for easy access, and the compact decklid hinges won't crush or interfere with your cargo. The class-exclusive standard 60/40-split rear seats fold flat, with a convenient pop-down spring assist, for easy storage access or to extend the cargo floor straight through from rear deck to front seats.Exterior
Lincoln says its modern image target is "earned reward" or "American dream," rather than "old world" flashy or "ostentatious luxury," which translates to quiet, casual, confident and more understated design. With its bold waterfall grille, jewel-like quad projector-beam headlamps, judicious use of chrome trim and low-profile tires on 17-inch, eight-spoke machined aluminum wheels, the MKZ certainly looks the part of a credible mid-size luxury sedan. Around back are large wrap-around taillamps and twin chrome exhausts.Notable Standard Equipment
The nicely-equipped Lincoln MKZ comes with automatic on/off headlamps, leather seating, 10-way power front seats, tilt/telescoping four-spoke steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, dual-zone climate control, power heated mirrors, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry with exterior keypad, MP3-capable audio with six-CD changer and two 12-volt outlets. Standard safety features include four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock and traction control and six air bags: Dual-stage fronts, front seat-mounted side and side-curtain bags for both seating rows.Notable Optional Equipment
Among the many MKZ options are chromed wheels, a power moonroof, heated and cooled front seats, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, 14-speaker THX II-Certified premium audio, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and DVD navigation.Under the Hood
The MKZ's all-new 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve aluminum Duratec 35 V6 delivers 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque through a new six-speed, wide-ratio, multiple-clutch automatic transmission. It boasts variable intake valve timing, a dual-plenum intake manifold and a relatively high 10.3:1 compression ratio to optimize its balance of performance and efficiency.
263 horsepower @ 6250 rpm
249 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (FWD); 18/26 (AWD)
The 2007 Lincoln MKZ's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $29,950 and can top out around $38,000 when the car is fully loaded. The current Fair Purchase Prices are just below those prices, so be sure to check them out to see what MKZs are currently selling for in your area. The 2007 Lincoln MKZ has a projected five-year residual value of just 31 percent, compared to 42 percent for the 2007 Infiniti G35, 46 percent for the 2007 Acura TL and an equally-weak 27 percent for the 2007 Cadillac CTS V6 (all of which are more expensive).