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Car Review: 2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD

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The future of Lincoln is here, and there’s a whole bunch of style and substance that wasn’t present in their cars before the 2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD arrived this year. The new MKZ is the first Lincoln created by a dedicated team in its new Lincoln Design Studio with a sweeping profile that incorporates one of the world’s widest-opening retractable glass roofs. This new offering from Lincoln was a major test for Lincoln, and we spent a week behind the wheel to see if the folks at Lincoln delivered.

EXTERIOR

A sweeping roofline defines the new luxury sedan’s profile. The steeply raked windshield and lengthened backlight make for a sleeker and more flowing appearance that is 10 percent more aerodynamic than the model it replaces. Although strikingly modern, the design retains classic Lincoln design elements, including a more refined interpretation of the split-wing grille, first seen on the 1938 Lincoln-Zephyr. Rearview mirrors stand on door-mounted, sculpted pedestals. This fitment enables the front door glass to extend farther forward to improve visibility and to allow even more light into the interior. The crafted headlamp assemblies include bright, energy-efficient LED lighting. The front headlights turn in sync with the steering wheel, providing enhanced visibility. At the rear, LED technology enabled a thin, distinctive full-width tail lamp graphic. There is no doubt that the MKZ is a real attention grabber on the road, as the looks and compliments were coming from all directions.

INTERIOR

When I first entered the cabin of the 2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD, the striking improvements from the prior model weren’t even on my mind as I just thought that this new car from Lincoln had one of the sharpest interiors I’ve seen no matter what segment we’re testing. Design teams clearly created an inviting interior featuring bold architectural elements, rich natural materials and fine details.

This is the type of functional interior that will appeal to younger and more diverse drivers that appreciate luxury and technology. Innovation and technology abound inside the new MKZ. Replacing the traditional mechanical transmission shift lever is a contemporary five-button interface. The individual buttons of Push Button Shift engage Park, Neutral, Reverse, and forward gears in two modes, Drive and Sport. Push Button Shift gave designers freedom to create a sculptural multi-level center console with more functional storage areas.

Positioned ahead of the driver, the full-color 10.1-inch LCD instrument cluster operates with the latest version of SYNC with MyLincoln Touch. The all-new design combines dimensional indicator rings framing a brilliant and reconfigurable Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD. An equally critical component of MyLincoln Touch is the nearly flush-mounted center 8-inch LCD touch screen that displays information clearly in easy-to-reference color-keyed quadrants. Premium-grade black supple leather covered all the seating surfaces of our test model. Responsibly harvested wood and metal-toned surfaces create a luxurious and comfortable interior space. The MKZ incorporates one of the world’s widest-opening retractable glass roofs that really enhances you’re driving experience with a phenomenal view of the sky above.

Standard luxury amenities include an 11-speaker audiophile entertainment system and cabin air filtration, plus heated front seats (with the driver’s featuring 10-way power controls), remote start capabilities and Active Noise Control. To make the MKZ exceptionally quiet, ANC electronically targets frequencies and reduces their intensity. To improve the refinement of the driving experience, other frequencies are subtly enhanced. The THX II Certified Car Audio System is a Lincoln-exclusive that features 700 watts, 14 channels and 14 speakers. THX audio engineers spent more than 200 hours custom tuning the THX-certified equipment to the new MKZ’s interior. The result delivers home-theater surround sound to the road. SYNC with MyLincoln Touch is standard in the new MKZ. The combined system makes it easier to use the entertainment, climate and available navigation features as well as devices brought into the car (e.g., phones, PDA, MP3 players). Twin five-way controls on the steering wheel manage essential systems, and many functions can be voice-activated via SYNC. Standard SYNC Services make turn-by-turn directions available via one button push and simple voice commands. Continually improving voice recognition software learns user voices, improving the efficiency of voice commands.

The new MKZ is the only sedan in its class to offer inflatable second-row outboard seat belts. Rear-seat passengers – often children or mature passengers – can be more vulnerable to head, chest and neck injuries. The available inflatable second-row, outboard seat belts spread impact forces across more than five times the area of conventional belts, reducing pressure on the chest while helping to control head and neck motion and helping reduce the risk of injuries.

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PERFORMANCE

Emphasizing performance and efficiency, the optional 3.7-liter V6 produces significantly more power (37 horsepower and 28 lb.-ft. of torque) than the previous MKZ V6, while improving fuel economy by approximately 5 percent. Our AWD test model came in with 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Our AWD test model also offered Lincoln Drive Control as standard. Lincoln Drive Control is an automatic system that delivers an ideal balance of a smooth ride with confident handling, as it intuitively responds to driver commands and the road, making the 2013 model the most refined and engaging MKZ ever. Always on, Lincoln Drive Control orchestrates the performance of the Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension, electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), engine, transmission, Active Noise Control (ANC), traction control and stability control systems.

The result is an unsurpassed combination of refined ride and engaging driving dynamics. CCD offers three modes (Sport/Normal/Comfort) that are accessible using MyLincoln Touch. Selecting “Sport” on the Push Button Shift gear selector enables a decidedly more sporty driving experience. CCD contributes to Lincoln Drive Control’s transparent action by monitoring the car’s suspension settings up to 500 times per second. The real-time system adjusts the suspension up to 50 times per second to deliver more controlled handling with a smoother ride. CCD augments a highly developed chassis that includes a refined strut front suspension and an all-new integral link rear suspension. The new MKZ is the only sedan in its class to include Continuously Controlled Damping and Active Noise Control as standard equipment.

Safety is also huge with the 2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD, as this new Lincoln offers the Lane Keeping System, which is a suite of advanced driving aids that helps drivers avoid drifting from their lane due to distraction or fatigue. Consisting of Lane Keeping Aid, Lane Keeping Alert and Driver Assist, the Lane Keeping System utilizes a mono-vision camera integrated into the rearview mirror to read the lane markers ahead. Available radar-based (ultrasonic) driving aids further enhance the driving experience. Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support each use a long-range radar system that scans in front of the vehicle, automatically adjusting to traffic speed and providing a visual and audible alert when a potential front-end collision is detected. Active park assist and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert use multiple short-range wide-angle radar sensors. Each function provides a distinct benefit, ranging from making parallel parking easier to warning of oncoming vehicles while backing out of a parking space.

There is no doubt that engineering has accomplished plenty by elevating the driving experience in the new MKZ, but there were times when more power would have made the drive more exciting.

OVERVIEW

All new cars and their launches have long-lasting impacts on respective automakers, but at this crucial time for Lincoln, any lost cause can be devastating. With the introduction of the 2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD, Lincoln has proven that they actually have a plan to get back in the retail market competing for affluent car buyers who demand nothing but the best in design and performance. The design is spot on and the performance is moving in the right direction; it’s about as good as one could expect from a front wheel drive platform. Our test model was loaded and came in with a sticker price of $51,205, which is very competitive with the main rivals of the Lincoln MKZ. Ford itself has really went upscale, but with more models being offered with the 2013 Lincoln MKZ DNA, better days could be ahead for the Lincoln team.

  

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