By KBB.com Editors
In 2006 Ford introduced its Ford Fusion mid-size sedan and its divisional platform-mates the 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. Building on this proven platform, Lincoln adopts a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine, six-speed automatic transmission and available "intelligent" all-wheel drive to create the mid-size 2009 Lincoln MKZ (pronounced "M-K-Z") luxury sedan. Although the name is confusingly similar to the MKX crossover and new MKS luxury sedan, Lincoln simply follows a long line of luxury manufacturers whose marketers prefer letters and numbers to easily-recognizable names.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 would fulfill your needs and desires, the 2009 Lincoln MKZ 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 2009
A special "Midnight Black" package adds a black-themed interior with perforated black leather seating and contrasting piping. Lincoln's AdvanceTrac stability control is now standard on all MKZs.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2009 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, thanks 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 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 of 19 EPA city miles per gallon and 27 on the highway with two-wheel drive, and one less mile per gallon on both city and highway 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 standard.
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 2009 Lincoln 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 2009 Lincoln MKZ comes with automatic on/off headlamps, leather seating, heated and cooled 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, SYNC communications system, AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD changer and auxiliary audio input jack, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and two 12-volt outlets. Standard safety features include AdvanceTrac electronic stability control, Reverse Sensing System, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with 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, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, remote start, 14-speaker THX II-Certified premium audio and DVD navigation.Under the Hood
The MKZ's 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: 18/28 (FWD); 17/24 (AWD)
The 2009 Lincoln MKZ's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $33,500, while the fully loaded all-wheel-drive model tops out just over $40,500. The current Fair Purchase Prices sit just below those prices, so be sure to check them out to see what MKZs are currently selling for in your area. As for resale value, the 2009 Lincoln MKZ's projected five-year residual value falls far short of the values set by the Infiniti G35, Acura TL and Audi A4, and the Cadillac CTS V6.