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2017 Lincoln MKZ First Drive

MKZ focused on the needs of the luxury-minded, tech-savvy crowd for 2017 By ,

I had a few Lincoln MKZs when I was a kid.

Of course, back then, I didn’t know that’s what they were. They were made from cardboard boxes, sticker-dots, and some Crayolas when I sought out to create my very own vehicle: a fully customizable refuge where I could escape to anywhere I liked, surrounded by a luxurious and futuristic cabin, and the sort of tech that, back then, was the stuff of science fiction ― voice command, light-up consoles and control pads, high-tech instrumentation, touch screens, etc.

The 2017 Lincoln MKZ isn’t far off from how I, and many others, once envisioned futuristic transport. Someone like me designed the cabin of this car. I’m sure of it.

Quiet Luxury
The revised, entry-level sedan gets new options, new tech, a new look, and improvements to its distinctively high-tech cabin layout. It’s all part of an effort to expand the MKZ’s appeal, to cater to the needs of the luxury-minded, tech-savvy crowd, and to adhere to the “Quiet Luxury” mantra that’s defined Lincoln models of late.

Thanks to the combined efforts of engineers, technologists, and designers, that Quiet Luxury ideology is more than a marketing fluff-phrase. It’s both literal and figurative. Literal, since the MKZ is indeed a quiet cruiser that glides along at speed with little more than a heavily muted roar finding its way inside. And figurative, since the MKZ’s looks, feel, and presence on the road are understated and quiet. 

Luxurious, unique, and high-tech? Yes. A distinctive look that combines signature styling touches, with others that appear strongly inspired by existing Jaguar, Maserati, Mercedes, and BMW models? Definitely. However, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ uses chrome with tasteful restraint, has a face that’s confident but not aggressive, and overall doesn’t scream for attention.
 
On board, knick-knackery is flaunted shamelessly in a number of clearly defined consoles, display screens, partially digital instruments, and button and control pads lining the forward cabin. The push-button gear selector becomes second nature before long, clearing space on the centre console for more storage and a clean, flowing shape. The touch-slider volume and HVAC fan controls have been replaced by a tactile control pad of button-studded dials and chrome switches. If you like a cabin that’s visually busy with well-organized consoles and displays, you will approve.

Subtle but effective tweaks turn in a richer look and feel throughout the new Lincoln MKZ, with more detail and depth, extended use of premium materials, and added trim on the doors and dash. It all lights up beautifully at night, too, with ambient LED lighting accenting the lower portions of the cabin, and an array of clean, sharply lit dots throughout calling an energetic city skyline to mind. The changes aren’t major and the overall feel of the cabin remains familiar, but with the updates and the extensive use of Bridge of Weir leather, that cabin now pulls its weight harder than ever towards its pricetag. 

You need to touch this leather with your fingers. It’s smooth and forgiving, so creamy one might consider spreading it on cracker, and so fragrant it leaves its smell on your clothes for hours. It all helps set the stage for a driving experience that’s carefully set up for relaxation, socialization, and effortless cruising. 

Tranquility over intensity
The 2017 Lincoln MKZ is not a performance luxury car targeted at a shopper who derives giggles from immense acceleration and spleen-shattering grip. Instead, as a cruiser, MKZ performs best towards intent when thoughts of performance are benched in favour of leisurely tranquility. For customers who seek a luxury car that demands little as they log hour after hour on the open road, it’s worth a serious look for several reasons.

First, road noise is often undetectable, while wind noise presents as little licks of sound, occasional and insignificant, at the window seals. It’s quieter than a BMW 3 Series, and even at high speed there’s no need to raise your voice for a conversation, even with rear-seat passengers. 

Second, the MKZ rides with a soft and gentle demeanour on virtually everything, the Continuous Damper Control suspension reading and reacting to the road for more consistent ride quality, more of the time. There’s a prominent softness, though a touch of sporty responsiveness is dialed in for good measure. It’s comfort first, without riding like a glob of donut batter.

Add in the dense and solid feel imparted by the chassis and body structure, and the unflustered stability with which the MKZ handles the winding secondary roads between Enfield and Wallace, Nova Scotia (many of which pack more twists and turns than the plotline of Game of Thrones), and you’ve got a cruiser with a posh ride that’s unbothered by being sped up a little in the twisty stuff.

Steering is light and lazy, offers enough on-centre weight to adequately lock the MKZ into its position on most roadways, and feels carefully tuned for leisurely cruising at all speeds. And should the hours see you become dull and drowsy, a few clicks activate the multi-contour seats for a light massage that boosts circulation and alertness. A few more clicks call the 20-speaker Revel Audio system into action, drenching the cabin with clean, vibrant, and crisp sound that you can hear and feel. Let’s not forget the full suite of automatic features including lights, high beams, climate control, and wipers. 

Simply put, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ is a cruiser with a uniquely laid-back environment, and one that requires virtually nothing of you.

By the way, the Hybrid model offers extended range and moments of ultra-quiet, gas-free driving in exchange for reduced power output and louder engine operation. Though quiet and notably smooth when driven gently, the hybrid powerplant can become loud when outgunned by the MKZ’s weight at full throttle. The available 245-horsepower 2.0L turbo engine puts a flat, widely available torque curve at your disposal and performs with more grunt, more quietly, more of the time. A 400-horsepower turbocharged V6 is in the works, too.

To buy or not to buy a Lincoln MKZ? 
Shoppers looking for a blend of technology, luxury, and long-haul cruising comfort should consider the new 2017 Lincoln MKZ a priority test drive alongside the highly comparable Lexus ES. Pricing starts at $42,000.

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2017 Lincoln MKZ
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2017 Lincoln MKZ
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Photos:J.Pritchard
2017 Lincoln MKZ pictures