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2017 Lincoln MKZ: Surprises in L.A. Show Debut

With the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles as its stage, Lincoln took the wraps off the latest edition of its own style-conscious sedan -- the 2017 MKZ. 

Now four years in to its second generation, this refresh for the premium midsize sedan features a new grille, a dazzling honeycomb anchored by the floating Lincoln crosshair emblem. Executives on hand at the 2017 MKZ's private debut ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show point to it as Lincoln's new signature. Astute observers may already be familiar with it, as a similar face was a key part of the show-stealing Lincoln Continental Concept shown in New York.

Also: See the New and Redesigned Cars of 2016

Power boost

But it's what's behind that badge that is the biggest surprise for the latest MKZ. In addition to carryover turbocharged 4-cylinder and gas-electric hybrid powertains comes an all-new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. While its power stats are preliminary, they're impressive:  400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. That's a 100 horsepower boost over the outgoing top-shelf engine in the MKZ, a 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V6. The top-spec engine comes on models equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD), while front-wheel-drive (FWD) versions with that engine scale back horsepower to 350. Also of note is that the AWD system now features dynamic torque vectoring to optimize traction at each wheel.

The 2017 Lincoln MKZ's newfound muscle is impressive, but Lincoln execs are quick to say that isn't the main point. "Effortless performance" and "quiet luxury" remain the principles for Lincoln's midsize sedan, not howling around a racetrack. In other words, Lincoln aims to keep targeting the likes of the Lexus ES, not performance models such as AMG models from Mercedes-Benz or M cars from BMW.

Big audio dynamite 

Interior and technological updates are also welcome, if not groundbreaking. Those who have fussed over Lincoln's overuse of touch-based controls for functions like audio volume and tuning -- including us -- will be happy to see the return of physical knobs. Moreover, the entire infotainment system is updated on the foundation of Ford's much-improved Sync 3 system. Audio junkies also get a treat in the 2017 MKZ with available systems from Revel, a high-end branch of Harman Kardon. If the 14-speaker version isn't enough ear candy, you can buy a 20-speaker Revel Ultima version.  The MKZ marks the second vehicle in which Lincoln has partnered with Harman's Revel division, after the MKX luxury SUV.

On the tech and safety side, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ will offer adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, which means the car can completely stop itself in traffic and then re-accelerate when the vehicle ahead moves. Also on offer will be auto hold, which enables the MKZ to essentially hold the brake pedal for you at stoplights. It automatically disengages when you press the accelerator pedal to move. Other assist features include the car's ability to parallel and perpendicular park itself, and the ability to automatically apply the brakes in the event of a collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2016

Black Label offered

Buyers seeking a higher level of service and customization can again opt for a Black Label edition that includes three interior packages and a personalized, in-home design consultation. 

"Our customers are looking for three attributes in a luxury midsize sedan -- technologies that ease their everyday experience, a beautiful design that is crafted with attention to detail, and a vehicle with impressive power that makes it a pleasure to drive," Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra said. "The new Lincoln MKZ elevates all of these attributes -- and many more -- to create a compelling entry in this large and highly competitive portion of the luxury market."

If this preview is any indicator, the MKZ's latest upgrades should help put it on the radar of more luxury car shoppers when it goes on sale next summer. Pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date.

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