The 2014 Lincoln MKZ offers modern features and distinctive style, but it's a hard sell compared with more refined entry-level luxury sedan competitors.
Standard and optional equipment has shifted around a bit for the 2015 Lincoln MKZ. Notably, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors and the rearview camera are now standard.Read more
Eye-catching design; high fuel economy from available hybrid model; many standard features.
Lincoln is certainly no newcomer to the luxury automobile market, and neither is the Lincoln MKZ. In fact, the MKZ has been around since 2007. But it's the most recent redesign two years ago that has led us to the current car, the 2015 MKZ.
Previous versions of the MKZ looked a bit too much like their Ford Fusion siblings, but this model has a truly original and modern look on the outside. The sleek styling, along with the small touches like the LED lighting and the swooping roof line, make for a truly attractive car. Also worth noting are the various engine choices. You can have the standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a more powerful V6 or even the fuel-efficient MKZ Hybrid, which is the same price as the base turbocharged engine.
Beyond engine choices, the MKZ also boasts a luxurious ride quality. It's quiet and comfortable thanks to a standard adaptive suspension and active noise cancellation in the cabin. Simultaneously, the MKZ feels taut and composed when you're driving it on a curvy back road. Lincoln packs in the features, too, as even base models come with luxury-oriented items such as leather upholstery, heated seats and a sharp-looking touchscreen interface.
It's in the details, though, where the MKZ becomes less impressive. The center console has been stripped of knobs, which helps things look a bit futuristic, but the result is a disappointing lack of tactile experience. When you eventually touch the surfaces that surround you in the cabin, you realize they look much better than they feel. We do like the idea of the MyLincoln Touch interface -- it offers some very useful customization and voice-control functionality -- but the reality is that it's still slow to respond at times and isn't as intuitive to use as those found on rival sedans.
So while the 2015 Lincoln MKZ is nice enough, it takes a bit more than just nice to win the day. The Lexus ES 350 and the ES 300h hybrid are the MKZ's closest competitors and they generally have an edge thanks to their well-built interiors and plush ride quality. Fresh competition is also out this year -- there's the all-new 2015 Acura TLX and the updated 2015 Volvo S60 to consider. And you're still going to want to look at the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. They're generally the sportiest of the bunch, and while they can get pricey when you tack on extras, they're our top choices when it comes to getting a refined driving experience.
Overall, we've given the MKZ a "C" rating. It could be worth a look -- especially if you want a hybrid -- but we suspect most car shoppers will be happier with one of the aforementioned entry-luxury sedans.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Lincoln MKZ is a midsize luxury sedan that comes in two trim levels: MKZ and MKZ Hybrid.
Both come with 18-inch wheels, automatic and adaptive LED headlights, LED taillights, adaptive suspension dampers, keyless ignition and entry (with an outside keypad), dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette upholstery, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, heated eight-way power front seats with power lumbar, driver memory settings, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and full power accessories.
Standard tech equipment includes the Sync voice command system; the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen interface; a rearview camera; rear parking sensors; and an 11-speaker sound system with CD player, auxiliary/USB/iPod input jacks and satellite radio.
Most options are grouped into packages. The Select package adds an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, ambient lighting and HD radio. The Reserve package includes those features plus a navigation system, a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, a power-close trunk lid, a heated steering wheel, a 110-volt power outlet, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. For the Select and Reserve packages, 19-inch wheels and a premium 14-speaker surround-sound audio system are also available.
The Technology package bundles adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam control, an automated parallel parking system, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and frontal-collision warning with automatic braking for collision mitigation. There's also a Summer Tire Handling package (AWD, non-hybrid only) that includes 19-inch wheels, summer tires and a sport-tuned suspension and steering rack.
Individual option highlights include a standard sunroof, a panoramic glass roof with integral sunroof, massaging front seats, a power rear sunshade and airbag-embedded rear seatbelts.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2015 Lincoln MKZ offers three engine choices. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the base engine, generating 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.
In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive MKZ with this engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, an average time for the class. The front-drive MKZ returns an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined (22 city/33 highway); AWD models rate 25 mpg combined (22/31).
The optional 3.7-liter V6 produces 300 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, also through a six-speed automatic and either front- or all-wheel drive. In Edmunds testing, a V6-powered all-wheel-drive MKZ covered zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, a below-average result for an entry-luxury sedan with an upgraded engine. Front-drive V6 models return an EPA-estimated 22 mpg combined (19/28), while all-wheel-drive models achieve 21 mpg combined (18/26).
Finally, the 2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid pairs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor that combine to produce a total of 188 hp. The hybrid is front-wheel-drive only and uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to return 38 mpg combined (37 city/38 highway).
Standard safety features include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side-impact airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. The 2015 Lincoln MKZ also features the programmable MyKey system, allowing parents to set limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume for their young drivers. Sync also offers emergency crash notification that automatically dials 911 in the event of an airbag deployment.
Optional equipment includes blind-spot monitoring; rear cross-traffic alerts; a lane-departure warning system; a lane-keeping assist system (which automatically helps the driver keep the car in its lane); a forward-collision warning system with brake priming; and inflatable rear seatbelts.
In Edmunds brake testing, an MKZ with standard all-season tires stopped from 60 mph in 121 feet, an average distance for this segment.
In government crash testing, the MKZ earned the maximum five-star rating for overall crash safety, with five stars for total frontal-impact protection and four stars for total side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests, the MKZ earned a top score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof strength and whiplash protection (seatbelts and head restraints) tests. A second-best score of "Acceptable" was awarded for the car's performance in the small-overlap frontal-offset test.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the 2015 MKZ's flowing center stack and console, without buttons or knobs, feels mildly futuristic. But while the aesthetic looks forward, the materials don't go much beyond what you get in the related Fusion. The brushed metal accents are nice from afar but exposed as garden-variety plastic on closer inspection. In the absence of a steering-wheel-mounted stalk shifter, the MKZ has gear selector buttons, but they feel thin and flimsy, without any damped, tactile sensation.
The MKZ's styling distinctions also yield slightly less interior space than the Fusion. The high center console can make the front seating area feel a little confining, while the coupelike roof line infringes on the headroom of taller rear seat passengers. Rear-seat legroom, however, is generous.
The standard MyLincoln Touch (a.k.a. MyFord Touch) system handles Bluetooth, audio, navigation and other vehicle functions via its crisp 8-inch touchscreen. And there's still the useful Sync voice command system that can control many of the car's functions.
In practice, however, MyLincoln Touch's processing speeds still seem sluggish during certain tasks. Nonetheless, it is greatly improved over past iterations and tech-savvy owners will likely appreciate the system's vast capabilities.
The MKZ offers decent trunk space at 15.4 cubic feet, although the hybrid's capacity shrinks to 11.1 cubic feet due to the battery pack. Non-hybrids also feature a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.
Equipped with the standard 18-inch wheels and all-season tires, the 2015 Lincoln MKZ offers a quiet, compliant ride -- exactly what you expect from this class, and more particularly, from Lincoln. However, we've also tested an MKZ with 19-inch wheels and summer tires (a rarely equipped option on this car), and it had a stiff, noisy ride. If you're looking for comfort, we recommend the smaller wheels and all-season tires.
Something you might not expect from the MKZ is its ability to corner. The standard adjustable suspension and quick electrically assisted steering make the MKZ feel more alert than any other Lincoln in recent memory. The MKZ isn't quite as sporty or agile as some of its German rivals, but most consumers will find it competent and enjoyable in this regard. All-wheel-drive models don't offer a dynamic advantage on dry roads, so we really only recommend it for buyers who frequently come across inclement weather.
Although the V6 offers more power, we've found the turbocharged four-cylinder is plenty capable as well. It's lighter and offers sharp throttle response. Acceleration to 60 mph is just a half-second slower than the V6 version and it offers better fuel economy.
The 2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is generally as pleasant to drive as its gasoline counterparts. The hybrid rides smoothly and acceleration is adequate around town. There's enough passing power on the highway, too, especially if you plan ahead. As with most hybrids, the regenerative braking takes some getting used to, though, and inching forward or backward into a parking stall takes a delicate touch on the brake pedal.