The MKZ has finally found a promising path forward.

The 2017 Lincoln MKZ finds the oft-overlooked luxury brand searching for traction in the mid-size sedan segment. In many ways, the redesigned four-door Lincoln MKZ has finally found a promising path forward, and one that seeks to distance it from the corporate Ford presence that has for so long dominated its platform destiny.

How does it do this? Primarily, the Lincoln MKZ avails itself of a fresh styling effort combined with a unique-to-Lincoln biturbo V6 option that presents the world with the first legitimate performance sedan from the brand since the eight-cylinder LS left the scene almost 15 years ago. It also maintains the same pricing structure that refuses to charge a premium for the hybrid model that has been such a big success for Lincoln. These last two aspects of the MKZ - the fiery twin-turbo and price parity for the Hybrid - help to separate the car from chief rivals like the Lexus ES and the Acura TLX.

2017 Lincoln MKZ

 

2017 Lincoln MKZ

 

A major part of that differentiation can be found under the hood. It's not available yet so we didn't get to drive it, but that 3.0-litre biturbo V6 scheduled to hit the 2017 Lincoln MKZ's engine bay this fall looks to be a sweet deal. With 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque on tap, the 3.0 biturbo MKZ finally has the firepower to rise above its Acura, Lexus, and Buick competitors and make a legitimate play for Infiniti and potentially even Audi buyers. All-wheel drive is standard with every turbocharged MKZ, too (including the base 245 hp 2.0-litre 4-cylinder model), which will play well in Canada's winter climate.

The ride in the Lincoln MKZ is across-the-board smooth, with the car hedging more towards the insulated comfort - or 'quiet luxury,' as Lincoln calls it - side of the ledger. V6 cars will eligible for a torque-vectoring in addition to their all-wheel drive system, but the Hybrid and the 2.0-litre model are best enjoyed as cruisers eating up long-distance miles. That the Hybrid model lacks all-wheel drive is understandable, since very few gasoline-electric models at its price point offer that kind of feature.

2017 Lincoln MKZ

A little harder to like is the lacklustre performance of its 188 hp drivetrain, which combines a four-cylinder mill with a single electric motor. It's also worth noting that the turbo is the quieter of the two currently-available MKZ powertrains, as the Hybrid's continuously-variable transmission lends a gruff character to any right-foot demands at highway speeds. In a world where hybrid cars are demanding fewer sacrifices from owners in terms of performance, the MKZ Hybrid's performance gap is underscored that much more.

That being said, the official fuel efficiency rating for the Hybrid model stands at 5.7 L/100 km city and 6.2 L/100 km highway, which simply crushes the 11.8 L/100 km city / 8.4 L/100 km highway delivered by the model without battery assistance. It's a feat made even more impressive when you consider that the model starts at the same $42,000 price as the 4-cylinder turbo (as mentioned earlier), a strategy that stands in stark contrast to every other luxury hybrid in its class.

Having a design that 'goes with the flow' of the luxury market is somewhat more problematic when the vehicle risks blending into the crowd

We were actually fond of the previous MKZ's styling, but the new model breaks new(ish) ground with a completely re-thought front fascia that links up with the soon-to-be-released Lincoln Continental full-size sedan from a design perspective. It's an attractive look for the car, and it demonstrates the direction of future Lincoln products. The interior of the vehicle is also well-appointed, and perhaps most important, much different than Ford fare at similar price points. Features content is up, too, as the car features an available adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go capabilities, combined with a pedestrian detection and automatic braking feature that operates at city speeds. Another tech highlight inside the 2017 Lincoln MKZ: SYNC 3, the latest, and simplified, version of the brand's infotainment interface.

2017 Lincoln MKZ

Still, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ is in the unique position of its new design working both for and against the car. While it's certainly easy on the eyes, the new sedan's look lacks the originality of the previous model, and when parked beside similarly-sized luxury vehicles from Jaguar, Volvo, and Audi, it's clear that Lincoln has absorbed the current premium design zeitgeist and synthesized it's own take on familiar cues. Good looking, but not distinctive, is how we'd term the new-look Lincoln.

This last issue is compounded by Lincoln's lack of brand recognition in the luxury space, which hurts the MKZ when it comes time to cross-shop. Having a design that 'goes with the flow' of the luxury market is somewhat more problematic when the vehicle risks blending into the crowd of similarly handsome automobiles. The company is currently in the midst of redefining its place in the automotive ecosystem, and it's simply not yet on the radar of many potential premium buyers. If you don't care about the badge on the hood, that might be fine, but for those that do, the prestige issue could drive them to seek out more established marques.

 

2017 Lincoln MKZ & MKZ Hybrid

 

ENGINE

2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo / 3.6-litre bitubo V6 / 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Hybrid

OUTPUT

245 hp / 275 lb-ft & 400 hp / 400 lb-ft & 188 hp

TRANSMISSION

6-speed automatic & CVT (Hybrid)

0-100 KMH

N/A (4.5 seconds VT biturbo est.)

TOP SPEED

N/A

FUEL ECONOMY

11.8 L/100 km City / 8.4 L/100 km Highway & N/A & 5.7 L/100 km City / 6.2 L/100 km Highway

WEIGHT

1,769 kilograms (3,900 lbs) base model

SEATING CAPACITY

5

CARGO VOLUME

436 litres (15.4 cubic feet)

BASE PRICE

$42,000

AS-TESTED PRICE

$61,825

 

 

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