TEXT:DEARBORN, Mich. -- A Zephyr, stylish new luxury sedan in the 2006 collection by Lincoln from the Lincoln-Mercury Division of Ford Motor Company, rolls down Ford Road in Dearborn near Ford's world headquarters.
Understand, though, that this is by no means the first Lincoln named Zephyr to cruise the broad boulevards of Dearborn.
The moniker traces in history to ancient Greece as the mythic god of the west wind.
Zephyr of 2006 also shows a streamlined package and luxury-car cabin appointments, yet the engine has only half the number of cylinders of the 1936 namesake.
This latest Zephyr is also Lincoln's smallest car, although it measures up for the mid-size class as a four-door sedan with the passenger compartment large enough to carry five in comfort.
It's built on Ford's CD3 architecture which also underpins Ford's Fusion and the Mercury Milan.
The front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform traces to a smaller chassis designed by Mazda of Japan for the mid-size Mazda6 sedan.
For Zephyr, the CD3 architecture forges a stiff foundation for constructing a sedan of reasonable scale with responsive driving traits customized for Lincoln-branded comfortable ride quality and driving dynamics.
Bold designs for the body use signature styling cues lifted from Lincoln's contemporary line, such as a chrome-encrusted grille decorating the prow with a row of vertically slotted fins.
Overall package shape features a windshield with steep rake and the rear window also with an aggressive slope plus side windows tipping inward to the roof.
Flanks show slight bulges for fenders around large wheels with a chiseled character line etched into the leading edge of each front fender and drawn rearward in a gradual rise to the tail deck.
And a high beltline pitched parallel to the character line gains a satin aluminum trim strip along the bottom edge of cabin windows.
On the tail, there are large red light-emitting diode (LED) lamps streaked by clear-lens crossbars mounted on the top edges of the trunk deck.
This is a tall structure too. Doors run deep to make cabin entry easy and seats are elevated so passengers sit in a higher position than in other sedans of comparable size.
Within the cabin, Zephyr seems generous in scale with reasonable room for passengers.
A traditional layout shows a pair of bucket seats in front flanking a multi-level console and a sculptured bench in back with slots for two but room for three.
Seatbacks on the bench divide by 60/40 percent and each side folds down flat to expand stow space of the big trunk.
Decor for the cabin is understated with luxurious materials in satin aluminum, soft leathers and real wood plus occasional bright glints of chrome.
The instrument panel contains electro-luminescent analog gauges ringed in chrome bezels and shaded to black with white lettering and white needles.
There's only one trim level on Zephyr but four choices for dash decoration -- ribbed aluminum in light finish, ribbed aluminum in dark finish, dark ebony wood or light maple wood.
The center dash stack, faced in satin aluminum, houses audio and climate controls and the optional DVD-based navigation system and a THX-certified premium audio system with surround-sound effects from ten cabin speakers.
Standard equipment on Zephyr ranges from power controls for windows and door locks plus a remote keyless entry device to dual-zone climate system, power adjustable heated exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes with redundant audio and climate controls, eight-way power controls on the driver's seat and six-way power for the front passenger's seat, an overhead console with map lights and sunglass garage, and a stereo audio kit with six-disc CD/MP3 player.
The list of optional equipment extends to a power moonroof, heated and cooled front seats, the THX audiophile system, DVD navigation, a premium package, xenon high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and chrome wheels.
Issues of personal safety are addressed with strong structural elements and energy-absorbing crush zones front and rear plus a variety of safety systems aboard.
Zephyr contains dual-stage frontal air bags for front riders with smart sensors in place to track the severity of a frontal crash along with the driver's seat position in proximity to the steering wheel and whether seat belts are being used.
Side-impact air bags for front seats and curtain-style air bags for front and back rows are also aboard.
Equipment promoting active safety includes a precise rack and pinion steering mechanism and standard four-wheel disc brakes, with anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and a traction control system (TCS).
For power Zephyr packs a Ford 3.0-liter V6 engine with intake variable cam timing (i-VCT) and electronic throttle control (ETC).
The plant generates 221 hp at 6250 rpm with 205 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm.
It ties to a wide-ratio automatic transaxle with six speeds to bolster performance and fuel economy scores.
Lincoln's stylists selected a subtle palette of nine shades for body paint. The choices are Black Clearcoat, Charcoal Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Blue Pearl Clearcoat Metallic, Dune Pearl Clearcoat Metallic, Light Sage Clearcoat Metallic, Merlot Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White Clearcoat, Silver Frost Clearcoat Metallic and Tungsten Gray Clearcoat Metallic.
Expect pricing to stretch from the entry point of $28,995 to a cap with all options on-board at $35,575.