Lincoln MKZ / Zephyr, 2006–2012. Click image to enlarge
Review by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: Luxury Sedan
History/Description: Lincoln’s new-age, entry-level model hit dealer lots in 2005 as a 2006 model wearing a Zephyr badge for a single year before a re-badge saw its name changed to MKZ for 2007.
With available AWD and standard V6 power, this Fusion-based sedan was aimed at other entry-luxury machinery like the Hyundai Azera, Cadillac CTS and Lexus ES. Lincoln enthusiasts loathed the loss of the rear-drive, optionally V8-powered LS to this new front-drive sedan, though updated styling and features helped it hold its own in the market. Interestingly, the Zephyr and LS were sold alongside one another for 2006 – the first year for the Zephyr and the last year for the LS.
An update for model-year 2010 saw the MKZ taken to new levels where styling, safety and high-tech were concerned. The latest gadgets were on board now – including self-parking assist, blind-spot monitoring and plenty more. A fresher, all-new cabin was specified, as were new fascias and wheels. For 2010, the MKZ also got a new six-speed transmission, a re-tuned and more refine suspension calibration, and xenon lighting.
Depending on the year and model in question, feature content will include climate-controlled seats, Bluetooth, navigation, SYNC, automatic lights and climate control, satellite radio, intelligent key functionality and a CD changer. Memory seating and the Ford keypad system will also be available. Optionally available since its introduction was the mighty THX-certified stereo system, which will liquefy every eardrum within a half-mile at full blast.
Checking out the market? Be sure to cross-shop the MKZ with comparable models from Acura, Buick, Chrysler, Volvo and Volkswagen. Relatively low resale values and fairly solid reliability will be some of the biggest draws to Lincoln’s entry, here.
Engines / Trim: For 2006, a 3.0L, 221 hp V6 was standard with an automatic six-speed transmission and front-wheel drive. In line with the rename the following year, engineers specified a larger 3.5L V6 with 263 hp. All wheel drive became an option this year, too.
A hybrid-powered variant was also available – featuring a four-cylinder engine displacing 2.5L teamed with a 142 kilowatt electric motor for 191 system horsepower.
2010 Lincoln MKZ (left & far left), 2006 Lincoln Zephyr & 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Click image to enlarge
What Owners Like: Many owners report a quiet and very comfortable ride alongside plenty of performance. Your writer’s notes from past test-drives of the model confirm that the 3.5L Duratec V6 hustles the MKZ along in a delightful hurry when called upon. Owners also enjoyed interior and exterior styling, as well as the slew of upscale features. Praise for overall value and the THX audio system round out the MKZ’s owner-stated plusses.
What Owners Dislike: Most groans arise from sometimes-poor fuel mileage, sometimes-fussy infotainment controls and interior squeaks and rattles as the MKZ ages. Owners of earlier models tend to complain about cheaper than expected interior parts and the potential durability thereof. A large turning circle, wind noise at speed, and blind spots were also fairly common complaints. Finally, some folks wished for sportier and more planted handling.
Common Issues: Though the MKZ has a strong reputation for reliability backed by one or more industry reports, used car shoppers are advised to make a few important checks ahead of their purchase.
Start your Lincoln MKZ/Zephyr test drive with a full walk around – inspecting the exterior surfaces for signs of excessive wear. Note the condition of the paint, particularly on the hood-edge and front bumper, and check the condition of the finish on the alloy wheels, too. On models with xenon lighting, be sure no bulbs are burned out. Is the chrome grille looking good? Or is it chipped and cracked and peeling?