DEARBORN, Mich. -- Running along the Southfield Freeway that slices through the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, we're ensconced in uber-luxe trappings of the MKZ, Lincoln's mid-size touring sedan in top-tier Lincoln Black Label edition.
The Black Label program not only installs top-dollar cabin fittings like Alcantara leather upholstery and Ziricote wood trim, but also encompasses a personal shopping assistant to help buyers customize their vehicle plus a comprehensive ownership package with a 4-year/50,000-mile free maintenance program, annual vehicle detailing and nation-wide restaurant concierge program.
Car designers at Lincoln Design Studio executed a radical make-over of the MKZ for the issues of 2013, producing an edgy sculptural package highlighted up front by a stepped hood and split-wing grille housing chrome-tipped fins as a contemporary homage to the classic Lincoln Zephyr circa 1938.
MKZ for 2016 extends the sleek styling of 2013 while offering a choice of two powerful yet efficient powerful engines, front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive traction, and trims levels of Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label.
The optional AWD traction device for MKZ amounts to an electronically controlled system that's always engaged and automatically splits the engine's torque between front and rear wheels in order to maintain a constant tire bite on wet and slippery pavement.
Other hardware promoting active safety on MKZ includes a precise rack and pinion steering mechanism with electric power assistance and 4-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock brake system, electronic brake force distribution and traction control system with Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic stability control.
The suspension is completely independent. Components consist of MacPherson struts in front with aluminum arms and a stabilizer bar, while the rear uses a multi-link design. Included is Lincoln's Continuously Controlled Damping adjustable suspension with three modes - Sport, Normal and Comfort.
Also standard is Lincoln Drive Control, an automatic system which coordinates the performance of the CCD, EPAS, TCS and ESC systems with the engine and transmission.
MKZ rolls on 18-inch painted alloy wheels bound by P245/45R18 all-season tires, or optional 19-inch polished aluminum wheels capped in P245/40R19 rubber.
Lincoln sets two powertrains on the list of options for MKZ, and each plant links to a 6-speed electronic automatic transaxle with SelectShift manual mode and steering wheel shift paddles.
The base engine, a DOHC (dual overhead cams) 2.0-liter EcoBoost in-line-4 constructed from aluminum, brings high-pressure gasoline direct injection and Ford's Ti-VCT (twin independent variable camshaft timing) valvetrain technology to precisely manage engine breathing and combustion in order to maximize throttle response and performance. It produces 240 hp at 5500 rpm plus torque of 270 lb-ft at 3000 rpm, with EPA fuel economy figures of 22/33 mpg (city/highway) for FWD and 22/31 mpg (city/highway) with AWD.
The optional plant, a high-performance DOHC V6 displacing 3.7 liters with Ti-VVT technology, delivers 300 hp at 6500 rpm and torque of 277 lb-ft at 4000 rpm while running on 87 octane unleaded fuel. EPA fuel scores for this engine tally to 18/27 mpg (city/highway) for FWD and 17/24 mpg (city/highway) for AWD.
The passenger compartment on MKZ was designed around body sizes of intended occupants, with more than adequate room for long legs and broad shoulders. Cabin layout pitches a pair of bucket seats up front divided by a multi-function console and followed by a rear bench for three with seatback split 60/40 in sections.
Stock gear on MKZ entry-level Premiere trim ranges from adaptive LED headlamps and LED taillamps to heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate controls, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rearview camera, 10-inch LCD instrument cluster, a rearview camera and the Lincoln Premium Sound System with 11 speakers. All MKZ editions also feature Lincoln's Intelligent Access with push-button start, MyKey and Remote Start System, MyLincoln Touch electronic controls to enhance the Microsoft-powered Lincoln Sync system for voice-activated control over in-car phones, media players and USB storage devices.
One noteworthy option is a super-wide fully retractable panoramic glass roof which effectively converts MKZ into an al fresco convertible.
MSRP points for the 2016 Lincoln MKZ extend from $36,085 to $49,690.