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by Jay Traugott
This is the car that could save Lincoln.
So here's the skinny: Lincoln has been desperate for some decent product for, let's see now, a decade more or less (think more). The brand hasn't been a favorite of U.S. presidents and parade-bound astronauts returning from the moon for ages. Instead, it's done very well in the retiree segment of Miami, Florida. Problem is, that's not enough to sustain an automotive brand. Lincoln's quest to reinvent itself over the past few years hasn't been successful either, but now they're hoping to alter that trend.
Their solution is the 2013 MKZ, which "represents the future of Lincoln in both style and substance," according to Ford Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales, and Service Jim Farley. The 2013 MKZ is also the first production car designed under the guidance of new Lincoln design chief Max Wolff (who was lured away from Cadillac design), who describes the car as "elegant simplicity." Whether you like the exterior design or not, it's still striking as to how much the production MKZ resembles the concept version that was displayed last January at the Detroit Auto Show.
Based on the same platform as the also redesigned 2013 Fusion/Mondeo, the MKZ is meant to begin a new direction for the brand in their attempt to appeal to younger buyers. In order to satisfy those customers, Lincoln will be offering three different engines options. It comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost with 240hp and 270lb-ft of torque. All told, it returns an impressive 22/33 mpg city/highway. Buyers can also opt for the 3.7-liter V6 with 300hp and 277lb-ft of torque and it returns 18/26 mpg city/highway.
And, of course, a hybrid will also be offered which has a combined output of 188hp from the 2.0-liter four pot and electric drivetrain. Although numbers aren't yet available, Lincoln is claiming the MKZ Hybrid will be the most fuel-efficient car in its segment. All-wheel drive is optional for both gasoline engines (front-wheel drive only for the hybrid) and they are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The hybrid comes with a CVT only. Stepping inside and it's immediately apparent that Lincoln invested lots of time and money into the beautiful interior.
It has a full LCD instrument panel featuring the latest version of the Ford SYNC infotainment system along with MyLincoln Touch. In terms of safety features, the automaker is particularly proud of their Lincoln Drive Control. It basically delivers a refined ride and engaging driving dynamics by integrating multiple systems such as the engine, transmission, body and chassis, throughout any sort of driving condition. Its goal is to continuously monitor these factors in order to deliver the best ride possible. Other interior features include a push button start gear selector, standard Active Noise Control, wood trim, and heated seats.
There are also camera- and radar-based driving aids such as a lane check system, adaptive cruise control, and a collision warning system. But what Lincoln is particularly keen on is their new retractable panoramic roof. This 15.2 square-foot glass panels has one of the largest openings available on any current sedan. Amazingly, it's been engineered to maintain the same structural strength of a regular steel-roof vehicle. Official pricing has yet to be announced. So there we have it, the beginning of what Lincoln really hopes to be an all-new era.
Is the 2013 MKZ enough to help give Lincoln the boost they so desperately need? We believe the exterior design is a bit polarizing, but it's no doubt eye-catching. The jury is still out on this one, but we think Lincoln is definitely on the right track to a whole new beginning. We'll have more details starting tomorrow at the 2012 New York Auto Show.