Auto123.com - Helping you drive happy

2007 Lincoln MKZ First Impressions

The 2006 Lincoln Zephyr has morphed into the 2007 Lincoln MKZ. Along the way it gained some minor tweaking of its appearance and some major
2007 Lincoln MKZ (Photo: Rob Rothwell)
drivetrain upgrades, including a new engine and transmission plus the addition of an optional, all-wheel-drive system (AWD). Renaming the mid-size entry-level Lincoln may cause some initial confusion among Lincoln aficionados but it was the right thing to do. Although the "Zephyr" name may be rich in near-ancient Lincoln history, it's about as sexy as the name "Edsel," and it doesn't conform to Lincoln's new marketing strategy using letter nomenclature rather than names. It was also wise of Lincoln to swap-out the old V6 mill and autobox for the very latest in motivation from Ford. Recently Lincoln called upon a herd of auto journalists to put the MKZ and its new drivetrain to the test; naturally we heeded the call to duty.

The facelift provided the MKZ is subtle. Without comparing pictures from the 2006 Zephyr I road tested in April of this year, I was stumped at what had changed. But trust me, there are improvements in the design and
2007 Lincoln MKZ (Photo: Rob Rothwell)
symmetry of the Lincoln's nose, not the least of which is the bold Lincoln'ess grille that snares the eye. Like the Zephyr before it, the MKZ projects an assertive, upscale image. I see classic Lincoln design cues in the vehicle's grille and taillights but where the spirit of the grandiose Lincolns from the 60s is most apparent is in the architecture of the MKZ's highly prominent dashboard and instrument panel. Its horizontal lines, rectangular themes and deep insets launched me back a few decades in design themes. I compliment Lincoln for their bravery in bucking the trend toward liquid designs that flow more gracefully around the driver and co-pilot. Also noteworthy is the highly accurate fit and finish found in the spacious cabin, where legroom is abundant front and rear.

From a tremendously comfortable driving position, I placed an AWD MKZ into gear and commenced my journalistic chores, which included segments of undulating backroads interspersed with stretches of highway cruising
2007 Lincoln MKZ (Photo: Rob Rothwell)
and city driving. Immediately apparent was the improved operational refinement the new drivetrain delivered over the Zephyr-generation of Lincoln's latest sedan. Spinning quietly under the MKZ's broad hood is a 3.5 litre, 24-valve V6 featuring variable valve timing in addition to an assortment of other technological advancements intended to improve performance while minimizing noise and undesirable harmonics. The spry unit ejects 263 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm and 249 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,500 rpm- and it does it on 87-octane, not the champagne demanded by many competitors in the luxury field. Yet Ford's new charger can meet or beat many of those high-end V6 mills in punch and polish.

On the road, the MKZ is never starved for power. It's snappy off-the-line and competent on the highway where its passing ability is more than
2007 Lincoln MKZ (Photo: Rob Rothwell)
sufficient to meet most needs. A gentle power curve programmed into the MKZ's drive-by-wire throttle-mapping contributes to smooth starts well-mannered speed increases, making even the most herky-jerky driver as velvety as an old pro. Administering the smooth flow of power is a new 6-speed automatic transmission, which will be finding its way into many offerings in the Ford family in coming years. During my test flights, the autobox worked very nicely, much in the way that an unobtrusive, reliable, competent employee might toil in a quiet corner. Just as the employee might sense the boss's mood and adapt accordingly, the sophisticated transmission in the MKZ adapts to both changing road and driving patterns.