At the 2008 Los Angeles auto show, Lincoln showed the 2010 MKZ sedan, the first car to feature new front end styling that would soon migrate to the rest of the Lincoln lineup, in an effort to give the brand a stronger identity and boost sales.

Today, at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, Lincoln showed the 2017 MKZ sedan, the first car to feature new front end styling inspired by the recent Continental Concept, which will soon migrate to the rest of the Lincoln lineup in an effort to give the brand a stronger identity and boost sales.

All kidding aside, where that 2010 look was too polarizing to give Lincoln the market penetration it had hoped for, the latest effort by the designers at Ford’s upscale brand might prove more successful. It will certainly age better than the fascia-only-a-mother-could-love that happened to the 2013 MKZ, even if it’s a bit derivative: we can’t be the only ones who see a Jaguar XF grille and last-gen Audi A4 headlights here, can we?

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The interior aesthetic is largely carried over too, but with one major improvement: the touch-sensitive audio and climate controls have been replaced with buttons and knobs. The result is a centre stack that looks a lot less space-age, but much more functional, and with less reliance on the touchscreen.

Lincoln says it has seen the median age of its drivers go down from 67 to 58 in the last few years, a trend it says it hopes the MKZ can continue, perhaps with the help of what’s soon to be available under the hood.

The outgoing car’s 3.7L V6 is being replaced by a 3.0L direct-injected twin-turbo V6 good for 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque – increases of 100 hp(!) and 123 lb-ft(!!) over the old 3.7. We have to think it would have been easier to coax that kind of power from Ford’s existing 3.5L EcoBoost, but the new 3.0 will be exclusive to Lincoln, and that kind of differentiation from its parent company can only help.

The 2.0L turbo and hybrid drivetrains carry over from the existing car; in Canada, both gasoline engines will be hooked up to a standard AWD system, while the hybrids will again be FWD-only.

A ‘driver’s’ package offered with the 3.0L motor will add dynamic torque vectoring to shuttle power to the correct wheels at the right time to enhance cornering, along the lines of Acura’s Super-Handling AWD system.

New available features include Revel sound systems, in 14- or 20-speaker configurations. We got a brief demo of the 20-speaker setup, and it sounded pretty sweet to our non-audiophile ears. There’s also a brake auto-hold feature that will keep the car at a complete stop until the driver presses the gas pedal, because Lincoln says its customers told the company that, “having to hold the brakes in stop-and-go driving adds to driver fatigue.” (We bet they’re not the ones bringing down that median age.)

There’s also a new adaptive cruise control system, and a park-assist system that will auto-park the car in parallel and perpendicular spaces, and also help the driver pull out of a parallel space.

Lincoln says the new MKZ goes on sale next summer, with pricing to be announced closer to that time.

2017 lincoln mkz CHASE 2

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