American luxury car-maker Lincoln, a division of the Ford Motor Company, is transforming. Long known for their plush sedans, the Lincoln Motor Company is making a push from their large, traditionally American sedans toward sporty, technology-minded cars for the contemporary age. We tested the 2013 MKZ—the brand's mid-sized luxury sedan—in both the 3.7L Duratec V6 and the 2.0L Hybrid editions. Lincoln's "Hello, Again" tour saw us driving through a series of neighborhoods in Brooklyn with the intention of rediscovering neighborhoods and artisans of our city as we were also rediscovering the brand.
Having been rated the most efficient luxury hybrid in the US, we were eager to get into the green version of the MKZ. As soon as the car fires up, it's clear that it isn't like most hybrids on the market. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the MKZ Hybrid at 45 miles per gallon in the city and on the open road. Ripping across the cobblestones through Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood, near the Manhattan Bridge, the car handled the age-old roads like they were freshly paved. Aside from its superior suspension, the hybrid's handling abilities and acceleration were also impressive—navigating Brooklyn traffic (and drivers) with ease.
Even at first blush it's obvious that the MKZ is not the towncar of yesteryear. With a design-driven exterior and interior, the car's modern feel rivals that of any American car-maker today. A European-inspired angular body shape gives way to tight curves. Maintaining a high angle through the body of the car sets it apart from Ford's luxury set and gives it a visual identity of its own. The front grille was apparently inspired by an eagle's wingspan, and while that may sound garishly American, one look at the car head-on and it clearly exudes a vibrant confidence.
After stopping off at Mark Jupiter's reclaimed woodworking studio in DUMBO, where Jupiter reworks found and donated wood into timeless pieces, we opted for the fully loaded V6 edition of the MKZ. What the V6 lacks in fuel efficiency it makes up for in power.
Zooming across the cobblestones of DUMBO, we barreled past the Brooklyn Bridge and onto Red Hook along the East River. On the open road the V6 excels. With manual paddle shifting, the personality of the car comes out. Tight handling is supplemented by spot-on acceleration. When it's time for a pitstop, a rear camera with object and motion sensors aids in fitting into even the tightest urban parking missions. Opting for a stop at Cacao Prieto, a chocolate factory in Red Hook using single-origin beans from the Dominican Republic, the parking system allowed for easy navigation even in poorly lit areas.
Inside, the MKZ is packed with what one might expect from a luxury sedan in its class—as well as a few extras. The interior is controlled by a voice-activated touchscreen, with everything from music to phone calls to climate control at your fingertips, or a simple voice command. MKZ comes standard with a center USB port and is available with added SD slot and stereo inputs. Syncing a mobile device takes only seconds with Bluetooth, and the user interface is surprisingly intuitive.
While the heated steering wheel and seats were not necessary on the hot summer night we tested, the air-conditioned seats were very much a welcome feature. The sleek interior is decidedly button-, knob- and dial-free. Nearly all of the controls are on a touchscreen or touch-sensitive bar. Subtle LED lights lining the inside of the door and below the glove compartment provide just enough light inside the car without being distracting. Of course, a keyless ignition comes standard with button shifting and paddle shifters for automatic manual mode. Perhaps most impressive feature in the new MKZ is the optional panoramic sliding roof. To call it a sunroof is an understatement; when closed, the 15.2-square-foot glass panel floods the interior with natural light. Open, the roof changes the feel of the car with those in the backseat getting as much fresh air as those in the front.
The 2013 MKZ is available now as a 2.0L Hybrid, 2.0L Ecoboost or the 3.7L V6. Starting at $35,925, the 2013 MKZ is a promising step into the modern age of luxury and performance for the Lincoln Motor Company.
Photos by Hans Aschim