“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” – Henry Ford
Anyone who aspires to review cars should give Mary Walton’s “Car: A Drama of the American Workplace“ a careful examination. In 392 pages, Walton introduces us to the men and women who went through the gruelling task of designing, engineering and planning DN101, the second-generation Ford Taurus that was meant to dethrone the Toyota Camry once and for all from its spot as America’s favorite car. Only the hardest of hearts would fail to identify with the Ford staffers who spent billions of dollars and countless hours slaving away at a project that ultimately flopped in the marketplace. I know it gave me pause for a long time when it came time to review a car. I began to second guess whether it was right to harp on some poorly fitting trim or wonky steering feel or a carried-over powertrain. Surely, someone wanted to do better, but budget constraints, infighting or other external factors must have conspired to taint their platonic ideal of an automobile.
And then I spoke to someone who worked at Ford and told me the story of their mother’s car shopping experience. “I went to the Lincoln dealer with her to look at a new MKZ,” he told me. “I was there, wearing my Ford jacket, picking the car apart on the showroom floor, cussing and spitting tobacco into a cup. There was flash (extra plastic that hasn’t been filed away) on the fascia. The fit was poor. My mom ended up buying a Lexus.”
Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad anymore.
Forty seven thousand six hundred and sixty-five dollars. Take a second to visualize that. For most Americans, that is a lot of money. Quite possible their salary for the year. Maybe even a nice starter home on a rural route in an economically hard-hit part of the country.
That’s also how much you’ll have to fork over, before any incentives or rebates, for this car. A car that is approaching $50,000, but has a fuel filler door that spontaneously pops open every morning and hangs like a limp appendage.
I did my best to overlook the glaring quality issue that was staring me right in the face at 6 AM every day, but even the supposed selling points of the MKZ ended up pissing me off even more. Take the full length retractable sunroof, something that Lincoln’s marketing guys can’t get enough of.
When fully retracted, it effectively blocks off half of your rear window field of view, reducing the already poor rear visibility. The brochure picture (above) downplays this effect but believe me, the chunky section just below the glass panel combined with the dark tinted glass gives you a field of view worse than the first generation Chrysler 300′s windshield. Luckily, this is an option that can be avoided, but so much of Lincoln’s sales proposition as a premium car seems to be based on this feature. Lest we forget previous issues surrounding fit and finish with this feature.
So, that’s two major issues before we’ve even turned on the car. Starting it is a bit like using an ATM. You hit the starter button on the center stack, then hit Reverse to back out, then Drive to go forward. All of this is done via a column of push buttons, like an old Chrysler, except there’s a discernible lag with this system that you don’t find elsewhere. Having never really experienced it before, I found it a bit disconcerting. The MyLincoln Touch system was as crappy as ever, slow to respond and awkward to use thanks to its haptic controls. The boys at Allen Park ought to start looking very closely at UConnect, and how easy it is to make a touch screen system that actually works. The 2.0 Ecoboost engine returned a whopping 16 mpg in city driving, while the turbo took forever to spool up when the accelerator was pressed. So much for downsizing engines to achieve greater fuel economy.
Most cars seem to have one redeeming feature that saves them from the depths of vehicular Hades. This has none. It does nothing better than a Fusion, costs as much as a decently equipped 3-Series, and displays the kind of QC issues that one would have expected from a Korean auto maker a decade ago. In such a competitive marketplace, this is a disgrace. The Lincoln MKZ is one of the most poorly executed cars in recent memory. There is literally nothing redeeming about it. I can think of more reasons to avoid it than to buy it. And I’m not the only one – Lincoln had so little faith in this car, that they had to pump up early driving impressions by putting Ferrari 599 GTO-spec Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on the car. Even then, nobody was fooled.
Once upon a time, Lincoln stood for something. It was the car of choice for pimps and presidents and every high-profile individual in between, whether your name was Iceberg Slim or John F. Kennedy. The MKZ, however, is for the kind of person Iceberg Slim would deride as a “mark” or a “sucker” – someone too dumb or brand loyal to go buy anything else. In the words of Nino Brown, another famous pimp, Ford ought to “cancel this bitch” and get back to making something worthy of the brand.
Lincoln provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.