2006 Lincoln Zephyr; photos by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge
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By Chris Chase
The Lincoln Zephyr was introduced in 2005, as a 2006 model, as a new entry-level model for Ford’s upscale brand. The car revived a name used on a 1936-1942 Lincoln model, and also a late-1970s Mercury based on the Ford Fairmont.
As with the Mercury Zephyr, the new Lincoln Zephyr was based on a Ford sedan, but in this case, the Fusion, which debuted at about the same time. Where the Fusion was offered in an entry-level, four-cylinder model, the Zephyr was sold in a single trim with V6 engine, automatic transmission, heated leather seats and dual-zone climate control.
The Zephyr’s engine was a 3.0-litre V6, shared with the Fusion, that made 221 horsepower and 205 lb-ft of torque.
After just one year on the market, Lincoln changed the Zephyr’s name to the less-memorable MKZ to bring it line with the brand’s new naming practice, and replaced the 3.0-litre engine with Ford’s 3.5-litre V6, which made a more impressive 263 hp and 249 lb-ft of torque. An all-wheel drive option was added as well.
The 2008 MKZ gained a number of standard features, including pushbutton start, SYNC communications system, perforated leather heated and cooled front seats, and rear park assist. In 2009, AdvanceTrac stability control became standard.
2007 Lincoln MKZ; photos by Michael Clark. Click image to enlarge
The Zephyr’s Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption ratings were 11.9/7.8 L/100 km. The MKZ’s larger engine was rated at 12.6/8.0 L/100 km with front-wheel drive, and 13.2/8.4 L/100 km with all-wheel drive. In 2008, the ratings improved to 11.6/7.0 with FWD and 12.7/8.3 with AWD; the 2009 FWD model’s ratings were 11.7/7.2 L/100 km, while the AWD car’s ratings remained the same.
As with the Fusion with which it shares most of its mechanicals, the Zephyr/MKZ has proven a very reliable car, with front-wheel drive earning a much better than average used car rating from Consumer Reports. All-wheel drive cars get a worse-than-average rating, thanks to a problem with leaking transfer cases.
There are a few trouble spots to watch for, which happen to be the same ones that affect the Fusion.
As mentioned, all-wheel drive cars suffer from leaky transfer cases, there have been some problems with automatic climate controls and there have been some complaints in the Fusion about a “loose-feeling” suspension.
2007 Lincoln MKZ; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge
Crash safety depends on what model year Fusion you’re talking about. Early 2006 models earned an “acceptable” rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) frontal offset crash test. 2006 models built after January 2006 added a piece ofto reduce the risk of injury to the driver’s right leg in this type of crash. Without this added piece, the Fusion earned good ratings for the frontal offset test, save for a “poor” rating in right leg/foot injury measurements.