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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Lincoln MKZ makes the case that an American brand can deliver a premium mid-size sedan experience. No need to spend your dollars on an international rival when you can get power, luxury and competitive technology right here with a carmaker that has been trusted for generations – I can just hear Mathew McConaughey’s easygoing drawl in those words.

I drove a 2017 Lincoln MKZ with the 245-horsepower turbocharged 2-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic SelectShift transmission (all-wheel drive optional). Available by engine grades – MKZ 2.0L, MKZ Hybrid, and MKZ 3.0L as well as series levels (base Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label) – standard features on my MKZ 2.0L Reserve include: leather seating surfaces; ten-way power driver and passenger seats; heated and cooled front seats; Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert; backup camera with sensing system; voice-activated navigation; SYNC 3 multi-media system with an eight-inch touchscreen display; remote engine start; push-button start; WiFi Hotspot; nineteen-inch wheels; and a power trunk. Total price as described is $37,060 without options.

For the 2017 model year, the Lincoln MKZ gets a new front end design and increased engine performance with the 2-liter; the previous 3.7-liter engine has been replaced with a turbocharged 3-liter V6 that gets a 50-horsepower bump (300 to 350 horsepower). The vehicle competes with the Lexus ES, Volvo S90, and Audi A4.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The design and brand is not a hard sell if you are a fan of it’s beautiful new salesperson, but even without McConaughey’s endorsement the car is a sleek machine. The driver seat gets additional four-way lumbar adjustments giving you excellent back support, but also makes me question who is the ideal age group for this car (I found manly men between the age of 45 and 70 sprouting compliments). I did find the cockpit snug as the lower console is built high. Optional equipment on my Premiere trim included a panoramic sunroof, the MKZ Luxury Package (20-speaker Revel Ultima audio system, heated steering wheel) and the MKZ Technology Package (main safety technology like a forward sensing system and pre-collision alert). Other interesting options include Multicontour front seats with Active Motion and a very pricey panoramic glass roof. Aside of interior themes, the Black Label trim provides unique bonuses like and extended maintenance plan and even a free meal at a fine restaurant.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2017 Lincoln MKZ is a Top Safety Pick with The Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it an overall rating of 5-Stars. Standard safety equipment includes Blind Spot Information System (BLIS); Keyless entry; LATCH; and Reverse Camera System; Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS); Safety Canopy; Belt-Minder; SOS Post-Crash Alert System; and Personal Safety System. I’d recommend getting the Technology Package which adds all the latest in safety technology.

Cost Issues: Like most entry-level premium sedans, the Lincoln MKZ is born lovely but needs lots of accents to truly shine. This means the base Premiere at $35,170 isn’t nearly as appealing as my Reserve with the Technology and Luxury packages that brought the price to roughly $46,390. A 2017 Volvo S90 Momentum starts at $46,950 with a recent fully loaded Volvo S90 Inscription test drive at $66,105 with all the packages.

Activity & Performance Ability: The turbocharged 2-liter engine has been the engine of choice in model’s past, and new improvements both further impress its ability to mimic what a V6 can do (although I would recommend taking a comparable spin with new 3-liter V6). The vehicle is easy to maneuver and feels sporty in all situations; my only performance complaint is a rather tight cabin feel. Active Park Assist is something you have to witness to appreciate: the vehicle finds a decent-sized parallel parking spot and with hands off the wheel, steers you right into it

The Green Concern: The 2-liter four-cylinder EPA-estimated average of 20-city and 28-highway for a combined 23 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive (small these turbos require a lot of go-go juice). The 3-liter gets 17-city and 26-highway for a combined 20 miles-per-gallon. The Volvo S90’s turbocharged 2-liter gets 25 miles-per-gallon combined (22-city and 31-highway).

Reinventing itself once again is the 2017 Lincoln MKZ that brings improved turbocharged performance to both a 2-liter and 3-liter engine. Also, lots of luxuries to love here that are unique to the brand.

©2017 Katrina Ramser

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