The team at Lincoln is in some desperate need of a champion for the brand and over the last couple decades Ford Motor Co. has watched the once prestigious brand turn out several re-branded Ford flops that have decreased their market share in the luxury segment. Determined to make a change and give life back to Lincoln, Ford has opened up a new Lincoln design center in Dearborn, MI to exclusively work on the luxury models separate from any design influence from their Ford counterparts. This new 2013 MKZ is the first design change to come out of the new studio and gives us a bit of hope for things coming forward. We got took the new Lincoln down to Manhattan Beach to examine the car inside and out and see if beauty was only skip deep. Could this large, white, luxury sedan be the hope for fans of the dying marque?
Diving into the new styling we find that the new MKZ is a drastic change from the prior model and the car looks dramatically different this time around than its Ford Fusion sibling that we had tested earlier. From the front end the Lincoln still shows off the company’s latest design style with the waterfall grille, which may be on its way out after several reports that the brand may change direction after the most recent refreshes. The grille and front lines are very modern and help to differentiate the Lincoln from any other luxury car in the market. The front LED fog lights have been replicated by nearly every luxury auto maker in recent years but the lights on the MKZ seem derived from Tron and fit well with the lines and design language on the front fascia. A walk around the car will show that the side profile has as much going on as the last generation Lexus ES (not a compliment) but as you reach the rear end of the car, things heat up a bit with new full LED tailights. The rear trunk lid is molded into a spoiler shape and the dramatic trunk is slightly reminiscent of the backside of an Audi A7 and made us wish they had simply replicated the hatchback design instead of the standard trunk. Although a hatchback design would have ruined the new Lincoln’s pièce de résistance; the new Panoramic Retractable Roof. This particular feature was not equipped on our Hybrid tester because the added weight decreases the EPA mileage from the 45 MPG down to about 42 MPG according to the Lincoln representative.
The interior was well equipped with the large MyLincoln Touch screen and digital display surrounding the speedometer. Lincoln won’t be winning any awards for the layout and moderate design in the interior but the tan and chocolate leather and soft touch materials were comfortable enough to compete with most in the segment. The front seats were extremely comfortable and the bolstering on the side held the driver in nicely and was padded enough to nearly feel like siting in an old wing-back chair. The gauges on the MKZ Hybrid showed the driver all the useful information you could ask for and even provided stats for things like miles under EV power versus miles of regeneration using the gas motor. A braking score was also provided to give some feedback to the driver on how efficiently they were controlling the car. The touch sensitive controls on the center stack still take some time to adjust to for those of us who are still familiar to physical knobs or buttons but seemed to react quicker and smoother than some of the similar systems we have recently tested from Cadillac.
The driving dynamics of the MKZ hybrid are similar to the Ford Fusion in many ways due to the solid underpinnings that help to create one of the better chassis I have driven in some time. The MKZ differs from the Fusion with a quieter cabin and softer ride when in the comfort mode. The sport settings firms up the steering input and ride but the MKZ is in no way to be mistaken for a sporty sedan and merely does the job in terms of driving performance. Any buyers looking for a spirited drive in a full size hybrid may want to reconsider their shopping segment as this car and any competitors simply do the job of driving without much in the way of excitement. The 4 cylinder 2.0 liter engine that is paired with the hybrid motor does move the car at a decent pace if you mash on the accelerator but can sometimes be a bit noisy for a luxury vehicle (this sound is much more noticeable in the Fusion due to the lower levels of insulation).
To conclude the review I would say that the 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is a great vehicle for those looking for a comfortable and luxurious way to get more mileage. The range for a full tank of gas should be around 600 miles and this car would be a fantastic vehicle to transport 4 adults in style. At just around $37k for the optioned up Hybrid version, this new Lincoln is reasonably valued and may help to bring some new life to the brand. The target market for the car was optimistically stated to be young buyers in the 30-45 age range and the new sleek styling and great mileage may be just enough. Several additional vehicles will be coming out of the new Lincoln product team in the next two years and they can’t come soon enough to continue to try and rebuild the once iconic American brand.