2018 Lincoln MKZ

When it made its debut, many entry-level luxury sedan enthusiasts shunned the Lincoln MKZ, considering it a rebadged version of the Ford Fusion. However, buyers quickly realized that Ford had serious intentions of making the model a serious rival of top luxury brands.  Although it still uses the same platform as the Ford Fusion, the MKZ is its own car and for the record, it is doing okay in the market and has potential to do better. Last year, Ford debuted a second generation of the MKZ which featured an upgraded design, upgraded technologies as well as more power at its belly.  This design is still fresh in the market which means the model will carry over to the 2018 model year without any major changes. Like the Lexus ES, the 2018 Lincoln MKZ is becoming a convincing entry-level sedan in this highly competitive luxury market segment.

2018 Lincoln MKZ

2018 Lincoln MKZ Exterior

The front end is slightly revised; it features a single frame grille with chrome accent surround (some pundits argue the grille resembles that of Jaguar sedans). The lower air vents and fog lights also feature chrome accenting on their surrounds. The engine hood looks more aggressive courtesy of more pronounced body lines.  The front fascia also features new, adaptive LED headlights that help to improve visibility in faintly lit roads. Fog lights have also been hooked up with LEDs. The corner vents look bigger than those on the outgoing model.

The side profile is unchanged and still features my favorite feature i.e. the cap-less-fuel-filler system. The rear fascia features thinner LED taillights; there is also a new LED bar that connects the taillights.

Interior

The cabin does not bear many changes compared to the outgoing model but the automaker has refined some of the features to make it look as well as feel more upscale. The layout of the cabin is excellent as it allows the driver to easily reach all buttons and dials. The model’s seats are very elegant; all seats are wrapped in leather and are heated (standard only on top trims) but front seats are also ventilated and power adjustable. In general, the cabin looks as premium as the Lexus ES and other rivals but still short of the level offered by BMW, Audi or Mercedes.  There is an option for a Driver’s Package that sees the interior filled with carbon fiber accenting, multi color seats and aluminum pedal covers.

The sedan retains Ford’s Sync 3 which is accessed via an 8.0-inch display. The system supports voice-recognition. Audiophiles are not left out as the sedan comes with an 11-speaker system (a THX II-certified audio system is optional on lower trims and standard on the Reserve trim). Stability control, 8 airbags and the automaker’s SOS Post-Crash Alert System are standard for all models including the base Premier models. The Select trim adds parking sensors, HD Radio and a rearview camera. The range-topping Reserve trim adds blind-spot monitoring, a navigation system and hands-free power trunk. Lower trims can add a lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and Active Park Assist which are offered as part of the optional Technology package; these are however standard on top trims. The Black Label Series stands out from other MKZ with custom paintwork and unique interior layout.

Engine and performance

The 2018 Lincoln MKZ carries over without any mechanical changes. The sedan is still powered by three mills. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0 L, 4-cylinder engine that produces 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Power is channeled to front wheels as standard while AWD is optional.  FWD models are EPA rated at 21 mpg in city and 32 mpg on highway drives while AWD models return 20 mpg in city and 28 mpg on highway drives.

The 2018 Lincoln MKZ also comes with a hybrid setup that combines a 2.0 L, inline-4 with an electric motor (a permanent-magnet AC synchronous motor). The system produces 188 hp which is sent to the front wheels via a CVT system; it returns 41 mpg and 38 mpg on city and highway drives respectively. The most powerful of the mills is the twin-turbocharged 3.0 L, V-6 that is tuned to produce 350 hp on models with Front-Wheel-Drive and 400 hp on models with All-Wheel-Drive.  The engine produces 400 lb-ft of torque for both. The V-6 is EPA rated at 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on highway drives for FWD models and 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on highways for AWD models.

Price and release date

Lincoln has not released the price list for the 2018 MKZ but since the changes are minimal, prices will not change significantly. The entry level MKZ Premier will have an MSRP of around $35,000 with AWD variants adding around $2,000. A fully equipped MKZ Black Label will see one spend in excess of $55,000. The fan-favorite, the MKZ Reserve when fully equipped will cost around $50,000. The prices are still less than the prices of the German-made haulers (Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4). The prices are however in the same range as the Lexus ES.

Competition

Ford uses the Lincoln brand to assault luxury automakers; in this regard, the MKZ seeks to rival the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4. The model is not alone in laying siege to the premium German haulers; it is joined by the likes of Acura TLX, Lexus ES as well as the Volvo S60.

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