By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 6.0
The 2015 Lincoln MKZ sedan competes in the most hotly contested luxury segment there is, against many well-established brands. Beyond its styling, the 2015 MKZ offers a compelling level of equipment that includes all-wheel drive (AWD), and can be had as a high-value hybrid or dressed as the new, top-line Black Label edition. As an alternative to cars like the Lexus ES 350, the MKZ is a compelling package. However, this 5-passenger Lincoln's biggest competition may come from within, specifically, the Ford Fusion upon which it is based. Like the Lincoln, the Fusion offers up a lot of eye candy for its segment, and a lot of high-tech features. It also costs significantly less, and unfortunately for this Lincoln, could very well be on the same dealer lot.
If you're looking for an attractive sedan, loaded with high-tech gadgets, and putting an emphasis on comfort over performance, then the Lincoln MKZ could be the ticket. That goes double if you want the fuel economy of a hybrid, but don't want to pay a premium for it.
KBB Expert Ratings
2015 marks the debut of the Black Label Lincoln MKZ. This top-of-the-line model brings not just finer interior materials such as Alcantara and designer woods, but a premium ownership experience that includes enhanced personal service, annual vehicle detailing, complimentary car washes, and more.
If you're expecting the 2015 Lincoln MKZ to ride and drive like the company's discontinued Town Car, think again. This Lincoln can handle corners more athletically than you might imagine....
... But it's no sport sedan, and is outclassed by cars like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Cadillac ATS, or other similarly priced sedans. On the other hand, the Lincoln MKZ is larger than those cars, offering more interior space. The quiet interior is aided by a noise-canceling system, and the suspension is adept at absorbing bumps. The 4-cylinder engine is surprisingly good at motivating this heavy sedan, but the optional 3.7-liter V6 is still a better choice. The hybrid isn't particularly quick, but Lincoln's fuel economy claims are no joke, as it's easy to keep it in the 40 mpg range. The standard 6-speed automatic and the continuously variable automatic transmission on the hybrid both worked unobtrusively.
Five buttons on the dash replace the traditional console-mounted gear selector in the Lincoln MKZ. Arranged in a familiar "PRNDL" pattern, the push-button arrangement frees up space on the console and under it, all while remaining easy to use and within the driver's reach.
LINCOLN DRIVE CONTROL
Virtually every car these days comes with different settings for drive functions. The Lincoln is no different, combining settings for electronic power steering, transmission, throttle and traction control, and the suspension into a single knob, with Normal, Comfort and Sport modes.
While we like the exterior styling, the Lincoln MKZ's interior needs improvement. It's laid out well enough, but the materials and design aren't luxurious enough to compete in this class. The MyLincoln Touch controls are a hassle to use, and navigating touch-screen menus just to perform simple tasks is irritating. Large on the outside, this Lincoln's interior is surprisingly cramped. Rear-seat legroom and headroom are especially in short supply. Some of these issues have been addressed with the new Black Label MKZ. Available in four "themes" with names like "Oasis" and "Indulgence," this top-line variant includes high-grade leather and wood accents.
The Lincoln MKZ is based on the Ford Fusion, but you'd never know it just by looking. Lincoln has done an admirable job with the MKZ's styling, giving it an upscale flair that its broader-market sibling lacks. We do think that the grille design is overdone – the trend to huge grilles on cars can stop any time now – but we especially like the capless-fuel-filler system, which allows you to refill without getting your hands dirty, or forgetting your fuel cap. Black Label variants are intentionally discrete, their main giveaways being exclusive paint colors and a darkened "Z" in the model's name.
Lincoln has positioned itself as a value-oriented luxury brand, and there's no doubt that the 2015 Lincoln MKZ is stuffed with a lot of equipment for the price. There are heated front seats, leather upholstery, an adaptive suspension, LED taillights, and a really good 11-speaker audio system. There's also MyLincoln Touch standard, which uses an 8-inch display and voice-recognition software to control a wide variety of functions. Each MKZ also comes with eight airbags, stability control, and Lincoln's SOS Post-Crash Alert System that activates the horn and hazard lights in the event of an airbag deployment.
Three main equipment groups are offered with the 2015 MKZ. "Premier" is the standard-issue car, but the "Select" group adds a rearview camera and parking sensors, plus HD Radio. The top-line "Reserve" group adds navigation with voice recognition, blind-spot information, and a power trunk. Stand-alone features include heated rear seats, a THX II-certified 14-speaker sound system, and your choice of moonroofs, including a panoramic roof that opens the car up to the stars. Black Label models include richer interiors with touches like an Alcantara headliner and Venetian leather seats. A "Technology" package adds adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and Active Park Assist.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder serves as the base engine choice in the 2015 Lincoln MKZ, or if you prefer, a hybrid powertrain can be had at no additional cost if you prefer mpg over mph. Also on the roster is a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, though its performance advantage over the base 4-cylinder isn't as noteworthy as the benefit to refinement. Both conventional powerplants are matched with a 6-speed automatic, while the hybrid variant directs power through a continuously variable transmission. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, with all-wheel drive restricted to non-hybrid models.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/33 mpg (FWD), 22/31 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter inline-4 and permanent magnet AC synchronous motor (hybrid)
188 net hybrid system horsepower
129 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (gasoline engine only)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 45/45 mpg
300 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
277 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 mpg (FWD), 18/26 mpg (AWD)
The 2015 Lincoln MKZ carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $37,000. All-wheel drive adds another $2,000. With the arrival of the Black Label edition, a fully optioned MKZ can pass the $55,000 mark, which puts it above a loaded Lexus ES on par with a loaded BMW 3 Series, but still below a loaded Mercedes-Benz C-Class. While the majority of entry-level luxury sedans undercut the MKZ’s starting price, most also fail to offer a comparable level of standard equipment. To see what others in your area are paying for the Lincoln MKZ, take a look at our Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page. The MKZ's residual value is predicted to trail that of competitors, and be far off that of the Lexus ES sedan.