The Truth About Cars » Lincoln http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:28:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Lincoln http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/lincoln/ 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Ecoboost Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-lincoln-mkc-2-3-ecoboost-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-lincoln-mkc-2-3-ecoboost-review-video/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 12:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065114 Lincoln has been working to get their luxury mojo back for a while, but up to this point it has tried to sell models a half-step larger to luxury shoppers. That meant a major value proposition, but engineers often skimped on luxury to keep prices low. The MKC is an entirely different animal however. This […]

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2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Front Quarter-001

Lincoln has been working to get their luxury mojo back for a while, but up to this point it has tried to sell models a half-step larger to luxury shoppers. That meant a major value proposition, but engineers often skimped on luxury to keep prices low. The MKC is an entirely different animal however. This Lincoln is essentially the same size as the Lexus NX and Mercedes GLK. Although the MKC is finally the same size as its competition, it marches to a different drummer, and after a week I finally realized something. It’s refreshing to have something different.

Exterior

Let’s talk competition first. The MKC is Lincoln’s answer to the X3, Q5, NX, XC60, and GLK. This seems to confuse some folks who assume the MKC and the Lexus NX were designed to compete against the X1 and Evoque. Looking at the specs, the MKC sits right between the GLK and Q5 in overall dimensions.

By now you’ve probably heard the MKC is the “Lincoln Escape”, but what does that really mean? The MKC shares safety systems and body structure designs with the Escape. However, it shares no sheetmetal with the Ford. Lincoln didn’t just re-skin the Escape, either. They widened the body and the track while they were at it, resulting in a lower, wider stance that’s more appropriate in the luxury segment than the perky upright character of the Escape. This is essentially the same formula that Lexus used to make the Lexus NX, which is a cousin to the RAV4. Like the NX and RAV4, parts of the Escape lurk inside the MKC, but you have to look fairly hard to find them.

The MKC receives Lincoln’s latest grille design, which is more restrained than the MKT’s odd-looking schnoz. Although pictures of the MKC seem polarizing, passers-by thought the MKC was attractive in person. If you think something about the rear looks a hair unfinished, you’re not alone. It’s the lack of a protruding bumper of any sort. Aside from the unfinished aesthetic, lacking any real bumper means mishaps with taller vehicles are likely to damage the rear hatch in addition to the bumper cover, increasing repair costs.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior

Interior

The MKC wears the best interior Lincoln has ever created. Period. More than that, the model with real leather is arguably a nicer place to spend your time than the current Q5, GLK, QX50, RDX, or XC60. Opt for the Black Label package and things are taken to the next level. Lincoln shoppers have more ability to customize their crossover than most of the competition with four different upholstery colors that coordinate with three different dashboard and door colors and two wood veneer options (you can’t mix and match). Opting for the Black Label edition gives you an additional four “themes” to choose from. If you want this kind of selection, the MKC and Evoque are really your only options, and the Range Rover doesn’t allow as much customization on base models.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Wood Trim-003

Front seat comfort depends greatly on your body shape. I’m 6-feet tall and found the seat bottom cushions oddly short and lack thigh support. A 5-foot 4-inch tall person told me the seats fit like a glove. Despite being smaller than all but the Mercedes GLK, the rear seats proved comfortable and easily as accommodating as the XC60.

The cargo area is the biggest compromise in the MKC. It’s notably smaller than most of the competition with just 25 cubes of room behind the rear seats. You’ll find about 20 percent more room in the Volvo.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Center Console

Infotainment

MyLincoln Touch is oddly named for sure, and it’s received more than its share of bad press. Does it crash now and then? Sure. But I actually think MLT is a reason to put the MKC on your list, not take it off. Volvo’s Sensus Connect uses a smaller screen and, despite the new connected features, still lacks decent control of iOS/USB media devices. Audi’s MMI and Mercedes COMAND are attractive systems, but lack the voice command library you get in the Lincoln. iDrive is still my preferred infotainment option, but Lincoln may give it come competition with SYNC3, due out next year.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Ecoboost Engine-001

Drivetrain

Under the hood, the order sheet starts out with a 2.0L direct-injection turbo engine good for 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Instead of a 6-cylinder engine filling out the top of the range like the Europeans, Lincoln opted to borrow the 2.3L turbo from the new Mustang instead. Five years ago, that would have been derided as insane, but Lexus has gone 4-cylinder only in the new NX and Volvo has committed to the demise of their five and six cylinder turbos as well. Sadly, the 2.3L engine loses some grunt in the translation, dropping from 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft in the Mustang to 285 ponies and 305 lb-ft of twist. 2.0L shoppers can choose between front- or all-wheel drive while the 2.3L model gets all-wheel drive as standard.

Both engines are mated to the 6F35 6-speed automatic transaxle. The 6F35 transaxle is likely the reason for the power reduction from the tune used in the Mustang. Although Ford does not specifically list torque capabilities like General Motors, the Ford 6F35 is substantially similar to the GM 6T50 transaxle, topping out at 260 lb-ft. (GM and Ford designed their 6-speed transaxles together.) Since the engine cradle design in the MKC is largely unchanged from the Escape, the higher torque capacity 6F50 and 6F55 transaxles likely didn’t fit. In order to accommodate the 2.3L engine, Ford replaced the 6F35’s standard torque converter with a higher torque unit but no transmission internals were changed. This allowed the entire package to have approximately the same dimensions as the 2.0L drivetrain. I suspect this also explains why the maximum tow rating drops 1,000lbs when equipped with the 2.3L engine.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior LCD Instrument Cluster.CR2

Drive

In an interesting twist, most MKCs on dealer lots will have a suspension with active dampers. This is a significant difference between the Lincoln and the competition which generally doesn’t have active dampers available at any price. This means we must have a quick suspension lesson since active dampers are a huge part of the MKC’s personality.

Springs and dampers work together to make a car ride and handle a certain way. Springs support the vehicle’s ride height and compress and rebound to conform to the road surface. Dampers control the movement of the spring in both directions. Spring and damping rates are carefully matched by vehicle engineers and in most cars they are fixed. In vehicles with dynamic dampers, the spring rate stays constant and the damping rate becomes a variable. In order for this to work, you have to start with a “soft” spring and when you want a firmer ride you attempt to compensate with “firmer” damping. While systems like this greatly improve the ride and allow the driver to customize the suspension within a particular range, they can feel quite different.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior -001

The first hint Lincoln had a different mission in mind for the MKC is obvious when you start driving. If the suspension is in comfort mode, you get the softest ride in this segment by a mile. The MKC is so soft in this mode that I initially assumed the baby Lincoln was 1,000lbs heavier. With the suspension in normal mode, the MKC feels more buttoned down, but there is still plenty of tip and dive and body roll. “Sport” firms things up but the feeling isn’t the same as you’d find in a traditionally sprung vehicle. The reason is that although the dampers can restrict motion, the springs are still pillowy soft.

Initially I was disconcerted by the soft suspension and assumed the athletic abilities would be harmed as a result. I was wrong. With a 0-60 sprint of 6.15 seconds, the MKC 2.3L beats most of the entries, matches the 325 hp XC60 R-Design and only lags the X3 xDrive35i and RDX in the non-performance category. It also stopped from 60 MPH in an impressive 112 feet in our tests and a respectable .83Gs in Edmund’s skidpad test. (TTAC doesn’t have access to a skidpad.) That’s all possible because the MKC is light for a luxury crossover, ranging from 3,791 in FWD 2.0L trim to to 3,989 lbs in the AWD 2.3L model.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior.CR2-001

Pricing

As you’d expect from Lincoln, pricing starts low at $33,100, undercutting BMW by over $5,000, and we get about $500 of additional equipment in the base MKC. Adding AWD to the base model tacks on $2,495. That sounds steep but Lincoln bundles the dynamic suspension and a few other goodies with it. Our 2.3L AWD tester started at $40,145 and had $7,775 of options added to make an essentially fully loaded MKC.

The Black Label model is an interesting option. Black Label is about luxury and customization, not performance. This means you can get the 2.0L engine with front wheel drive in Black Label trim starting at $46,205. For the extra dosh, a “shopping assistant” will help you choose from four unique interior themes, five unique wood veneers and some extra paint options. The interior is further upgraded with faux-suede headliners and more standard features. In addition to the goodies, you get improved service with scheduled maintenance and wear item coverage (shocks, belts, etc), a loaner car when yours is in for service, lifetime car washes at a Lincoln dealer and annual detailing services.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Rear.CR2-001

I have to admit when I first took the MKC out on the road, I didn’t like it. The well-appointed interior is attractive, but the ultra-plush driving dynamics took some getting used to. Then an odd thing happened. A friend of mine who is in her early 30s said “I’m tired of the harsh ride in my X3 but I still want a crossover.” I had her drive the MKC and it was love at first tip and dive. I suddenly realized: from the Lexus NX to the Mercedes GLK, every one of the competition is trying to be the soft-roader that can lap the Nurburgring in under 9 minutes. Except the MKC.

The Lincoln can hang with the middle of the pack in terms of handling, but the handling feel is an entirely different matter. The soft suspension makes turn-in feel lazy, steering feel non-existent and the cabin hushed. The combination means the MKC is eminently capable with high limits, but the design of the vehicle makes it hard to determine where those limits are located. If that sounds like the kind of product Lexus used to be known for (before they too started chasing BMW), you’re right. Once I stopped chasing the X3, I realized how refreshing it was to have a competitive product without the “me-too.” Bravo Lincoln.

Lincoln provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.26 Seconds

0-60: 6.15 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.8 Seconds @ 92.5 MPH

Average economy: 20.3 MPG over 699 miles

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Ecoboost Engine.CR2 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Ecoboost Engine 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Ecoboost Engine-001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Ecoboost Engine-002 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior -001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Front .CR2 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Front -001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Front Quarter 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Front Quarter-001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Front_ 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Headlamp 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Rear.CR2 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Rear.CR2-001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Rear 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior Side 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Exterior_ 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Cargo Area 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Cargo Area-001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Cargo Area-002 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Center Console.CR2 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Center Console 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior LCD Instrument Cluster.CR2 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior LCD Instrument Cluster.CR2-001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior LCD Instrument Cluster 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Seat Controls.CR2 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Seats 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Seats-001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Speaker 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Steering Wheel.CR2 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Wood Trim.CR2 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Wood Trim 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Wood Trim-001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Wood Trim-002 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior Wood Trim-003 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior.CR2 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior.CR2-001 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior.CR2-002 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior.CR2-003 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3 Interior-001

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QOTD: How Would You Rename All The Lincolns? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/qotd-rename-lincolns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/qotd-rename-lincolns/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:31:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1051921 Continental. Zepher. Coronation. Lincoln has some great names in its history – much better than the MK-add-a-letter-here nomenclature of today. Actually, if your model naming scheme is best described as nomenclature, you’re probably doing it wrong. I won’t bore you with the Lincoln history you already know. Wikipedia can do that for me. I just want to talk […]

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Continental. Zepher. Coronation. Lincoln has some great names in its history – much better than the MK-add-a-letter-here nomenclature of today. Actually, if your model naming scheme is best described as nomenclature, you’re probably doing it wrong.

I won’t bore you with the Lincoln history you already know. Wikipedia can do that for me. I just want to talk about names, anyway.

Yesterday, the news Lincoln may use proper model names was met with great joy amongst the Best & Brightest. And for good reason. The Continental has always been gorgeous in the most American way possible. It’s a massive barge of freedom; as much as 2.85 Imperial tons of freedom in the ’60s. That’s a lot of freedom.

But, what about every other model in the current Lincoln lineup? What other names from Lincoln’s past (or future…*dun dun dun*) could be used to rename its current set of cars and SUVs?

Also, don’t bother renaming the MKT. We’ll just assume it’s dead so this process is easier on all of us.

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Lincoln Is Already Coming Back http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/lincoln-already-coming-back/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/lincoln-already-coming-back/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1049449 I remember back when I first wrote on The Truth About Cars that Lincoln, noted creator of cars for airport limo drivers, would make a comeback. The comments broke down like this: a few of you agreed with me. The rest of you accused me of being either a paid shill for Lincoln or an […]

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I remember back when I first wrote on The Truth About Cars that Lincoln, noted creator of cars for airport limo drivers, would make a comeback. The comments broke down like this: a few of you agreed with me. The rest of you accused me of being either a paid shill for Lincoln or an idiot, which, in your minds, appeared to be approximately the same thing.

Well, here we are two years later, and Lincoln is already clawing its way back.

I say this because I recently spent time in the MKC, which is a small luxury crossover designed to rival everyone else’s small luxury crossover: the Mercedes GLK, the Lexus NX, the Acura RDX, the Infiniti QX50, and a wide range of other models with indecipherable acronym names that make heavy use of the letter “X.”

And you know what? The Lincoln MKC is pretty damn good.

Let’s go over the details. It’s starts at $34,000, which makes it cheaper than virtually all its rivals. It gets better mileage than most of them, too. Options include rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel parking system, and one of the best infotainment systems in the entire industry. Yes, I know MyFord Touch sucked when it came out, but that was five years ago – and if you haven’t driven a car equipped with it since then, you’re missing out.

You can choose between two engines: a 240-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder and a 285-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder that offers more power than most rival V6s. There’s a standard backup camera. Standard voice control. Standard dual-zone automatic climate control. Standard keyless access with push-button start. Standard power front seats, which is something that Audi has been trying to figure out for the last two decades. In other words: on paper, this car is a worthy adversary for every single modern compact luxury crossover. It’s not some flag-waving also-ran.

And in practice?

In practice, it’s just as damn good. A few car journalists have knocked Lincoln interiors for offering a little too much cheap plastic, but I think these people need to spend time in other luxury SUVs. The Mercedes GLK interior looks like a factory for plastic. The RDX interior makes it seem like Acura is the largest consumer of plastic buttons outside the Target women’s department. Any objective person would say the MKC fits right in with these rivals.

And then there’s the driving experience. It’s quick. It’s comfortable. It’s plush. No, it’s no sports car, but let’s be honest: the MKC was never going to take down the BMW X3. Lincoln is going after the enormous “I want a luxurious luxury car” segment currently being abandoned by “Let’s Make It Look Crazy” Lexus, and they’re doing a damn good job.

All-New 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

So then we move to Lincoln’s “other” new product: the MKZ. I’ve driven the MKZ. I like the MKZ. I find the MKZ to be one of the most attractive new cars on sale, giant taillight and all. If I were interested in a smooth, comfortable luxury car, I’d find my way over to the Lincoln dealer long before I ever set foot in Lexus of My Hometown. Largely because the Lexus dealer scares me, since it looks like all the SUVs are going to eat my extremities.

Now, I know I’m in the minority when it comes to the MKZ, primarily due to its polarizing exterior styling. But you have to agree that this car, too, looks pretty damn good on paper. Turbo 4-cylinder. Optional V6. Available hybrid model that costs nothing extra and does 40 mpg in combined driving. Cheaper than Lexus, and more equipment. For those of us who don’t think it looks like a beached whale, this is a pretty damn good car.

And I suspect Lincoln will continue coming out with these damn good cars over the next few years. This is, after all, the same company that brought Ford from a football-shaped Taurus with a pushrod engine to a handsome, desirable Fusion in just a decade. They can do it with Lincoln, too.

Now, I’m the first to admit that Lincoln’s turnaround will be a long and bumpy one – especially if they believe their flagship vehicle, the Navigator, can continue in its current form as a warmed-over Expedition with a ten-year-old chassis and a fraction of the features its rivals have.

And then there’s the brand’s name. Cadillac has been turning around for a decade now, and you’d still get a nasty look from any non-car enthusiast if you told them you were buying a Cadillac. “A Cadillac?” they would say. “For you? Or your grandfather?” And then they would laugh and laugh, as they walk out to their cool new BMW or Audi, which aren’t associated with old people, but rather sorority girls from the North Shore of Long Island.

So it’s a long road ahead, but I think Lincoln is going about it the right way: by delivering high-quality products packed with features, loaded with equipment, and equipped with some of the best engines on the market. This process won’t be done in two years, or even five years, but it’s headed in the right direction. Just like I said.

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New York 2015: Lincoln Continental Concept Revealed Ahead Of Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-lincoln-continental-concept-revealed-ahead-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-lincoln-continental-concept-revealed-ahead-show/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 04:51:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032425 Here it is: the Lincoln Continental Concept, revealed ahead of its trip down the ramp at the 2015 New York Auto Show. Power for the concept comes from a 3-liter EcoBoost V6 made exclusively for Lincoln, while the brand’s ride-enhancement technology and adaptive steering help keep things under control. No power figures were given at […]

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Here it is: the Lincoln Continental Concept, revealed ahead of its trip down the ramp at the 2015 New York Auto Show.

Power for the concept comes from a 3-liter EcoBoost V6 made exclusively for Lincoln, while the brand’s ride-enhancement technology and adaptive steering help keep things under control. No power figures were given at this time.

Inside, the occupants will be treated to a premium interior composed of Venetian and Alcantara leathers, rose gold and bright chrome trims, a satin headliner, soft-gold LED lighting, shearling wool carpet, and patented 30-way adjustable seating meant to adapt to a given occupant’s shape and size. The passenger-side rear seat can also fully recline when the front passenger seat is moved forward.

Other features include: Revel Ultima audio system; SPD SmartGlass tinting sunroof; tablet-supporting trays for the rear occupants; E-latch door handles; parking and pre-collision assists; 360-degree camera; and LED headlamps with laser-assist high beams.

The Lincoln Continental Concept is also a preview of the brand’s all-new fullsizer — to be called Continental — due next year

Facts_Lincoln_Continental_Concept_Exterior Facts_Lincoln_Continental_Concept_Interior LincolnContinentalConcept_01_Front LincolnContinentalConcept_02_Profile LincolnContinentalConcept_03_Rear LincolnContinentalConcept_06_Rear LincolnContinentalConcept_11_Detail_Headlamp LincolnContinentalConcept_10_Detail_Badge LincolnContinentalConcept_09_Detail_TravelCase LincolnContinentalConcept_07_Interior LincolnContinentalConcept_08_Interior

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Lincoln ‘Dares Greater’ Than Cadillac In Google SEO Game http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lincoln-dares-greater-cadillac-google-seo-game/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lincoln-dares-greater-cadillac-google-seo-game/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1007698 Oscar viewers who are seeking on Google the Cadillac that “dared greatly” are suddenly hearing Matthew McConaughey’s voice, thanks to Lincoln’s SEO skills. Autoblog reports the first instance of Lincoln’s slogan hijacking appeared less than 24 hours after Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” adverts aired during the 87th Academy Awards. As seen above, those wanting to know […]

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Lincoln Dares Greater Than Cadillac In The SEO Game

Oscar viewers who are seeking on Google the Cadillac that “dared greatly” are suddenly hearing Matthew McConaughey’s voice, thanks to Lincoln’s SEO skills.

Autoblog reports the first instance of Lincoln’s slogan hijacking appeared less than 24 hours after Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” adverts aired during the 87th Academy Awards. As seen above, those wanting to know more about Cadillac — and about that mysterious car making a brief appearance in a separate Oscars advert — will find a sponsored link for the brand at the top, followed by Lincoln’s version of the truth in second.

Originally, the second sponsored link — which read, “Dare Greatly – It’s not about making a statement, it’s about doing what you love” — directed consumers to Lincoln’s homepage, greeting them with the sight of the 2015 MKZ Hybrid. Since then, the link directs to the same page, but the image is that of the 2015 MKC. The link’s slogan, meanwhile, changes with every search; for this author, it currently reads, “You don’t have to make a statement when you know who you are,” likely a swipe at brand president Johan de Nysschen’s and brand director Melody Lee’s ambitions and aspirations for Cadillac.

As for the Oscars campaign, AutoTrader said that searches for Cadillac jumped 53 percent within an hour after the first advert aired.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Lincoln MKX Officially Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-lincoln-mkx-officially-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-lincoln-mkx-officially-unveiled/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 15:10:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=980145 A couple of days after it was leaked, the 2016 Lincoln MKX made its official debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show [Live photos now available – CA]. Motivation for the premium crossover comes from a standard 3.7-liter V6 capable of 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, or the optional 2.7-liter twin-turbo Ti-VCT EcoBoost […]

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A couple of days after it was leaked, the 2016 Lincoln MKX made its official debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show [Live photos now available – CA].

Motivation for the premium crossover comes from a standard 3.7-liter V6 capable of 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, or the optional 2.7-liter twin-turbo Ti-VCT EcoBoost V6, whose power figures are expected to be north of 330 horsepower and 370 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent entirely to the front via a six-speed automatic with SelectShift and push-button controls; Lincoln’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system is also available.

The MKX also has an array of driving and safety features that are new to the crossover, including a 360-degree camera mounted behind the Lincoln badge between the grill to help in low-speed parking situations. The camera can see up to 7 feet around the vehicle, and can show the driver what the cross-traffic situation looks like via a 180-degree split view.

Other aids include: Auto Hold, which allows the driver to keep the brake pedal down without having to continuously hold it down during stops; pre-collision assist, which warns if an accident with a pedestrian or another driver is about to occur, and applies the brakes if the driver isn’t able to prevent the accident on their own; adaptive LED headlamps that widen their low-beam pattern when accelerating from nought to 35 mph; 12-sensor ultrasonic sensing system for parking assist; blind-spot information; lane-keeping; and height-adjustable hands-free power tailgate.

For those wanting to listen to “Spring” by Vivaldi on their way to the country club, home theater audio supplier Revel enters the automotive game with its Revel Ultima 13- and 19-speaker systems in the MKX. The system offers three-mode Surround Sound, real-time music reconstruction from compressed sources, and a 20-channel high-voltage hybrid amp for high-quality dynamics and optimized transparency.

Six trim levels will be available for the crossover, including four Black Label trims, two of which are new: one inspired by the fashion and culture of 1920s Paris, the other influenced by the pageantry of high-stakes horse racing.

Other features include: adaptive steering; integral rear link suspension; three-mode driving system; 22-way adjustable front seats; MyLincoln Mobile smartphone app; and a welcome mat projected onto the ground via folded mirror upon detection of the driver’s key fob from nine feet away.

The MKX is slated to go on sale in the United States this fall, with Canada, Mexico, China, South Korean and the Middle East to follow soon after.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Lincoln MKX Leaked Before Show Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-lincoln-mkx-leaked-show-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-lincoln-mkx-leaked-show-debut/#comments Sun, 11 Jan 2015 17:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=975561 Coming straight from a leaked URL on Lincoln’s Canadian website is the 2016 MKX. Autoblog reports the “airplane design”-inspired premium crossover shares some of its looks with the 2015 MKC. Power comes from a 2.7-liter EcoBoost. Horsepower should be somewhere north of 300. No transmission was mentioned as of this writing, but speculation points to […]

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Coming straight from a leaked URL on Lincoln’s Canadian website is the 2016 MKX.

Autoblog reports the “airplane design”-inspired premium crossover shares some of its looks with the 2015 MKC. Power comes from a 2.7-liter EcoBoost. Horsepower should be somewhere north of 300. No transmission was mentioned as of this writing, but speculation points to the same six-speed unit found in the Ford Edge.

Other features include: HID lamps with LED accenting; glass roof; hands-free power liftgate; 360-degree front-mounted camera; leather seating with optional heating/cooling and 22-way adjustment; 13- or 19-speaker Revel audio system; and (as pictured) MyLincoln Touch.

The new MKX is set to arrive in showrooms this summer.

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Callum: No ‘Visual Connection Between Lincoln And Ford’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/callum-no-visual-connection-lincoln-ford/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/callum-no-visual-connection-lincoln-ford/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973594 For the longest time, there wasn’t much difference between Lincoln and Ford in the design game, consumers hardly seeing much difference between an MKZ and a Fusion despite the former’s premium price. Ford global design boss Moray Callum is drawing a line in the sand as far as that is concerned. In an interview with […]

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For the longest time, there wasn’t much difference between Lincoln and Ford in the design game, consumers hardly seeing much difference between an MKZ and a Fusion despite the former’s premium price. Ford global design boss Moray Callum is drawing a line in the sand as far as that is concerned.

In an interview with Automotive News Callum said that as far as design goes, he didn’t think there should be “a visual connection between Lincoln and Ford.” The decision to have a design studio separate from Ford is part of this goal, citing the cross-pollination among competitors Lexus and Infiniti with their respective parent brands, Toyota and Nissan.

Within Lincoln, the differentiation is beginning to take hold. Callum explained that the MKC and MKZ share no common sheet metal, proportion or stance with its cousins, the Ford Escape and Fusion. That said, the differentiation is not something he has to enforce, nor does he feel a need to do so, proclaiming that it’s a decision both brands are consciously making.

As for Ford’s own premium concerns, Callum states that though the Blue Oval isn’t pretending “to be a premium brand,” he didn’t see any harm in bringing a premium feel to the portfolio, adding that “the premium brands don’t have a monopoly on great design.”

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BMW Takes US Luxury Sales Crown Back From Mercedes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972809 After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013. Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for […]

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After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013.

Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for Mercedes. Both automakers also experienced growth in U.S. sales during the last year, though BMW’s 9.8 percent boost over 2013’s numbers raced past Mercedes’ 5.7 percent increase.

Taking third on the podium was Lexus with 311,389 units sold in 2014, though its rate of growth bested the top two finishers at 13.7 percent over 2013.

Rounding out the rest of the U.S. mainstream luxury pack, Audi took fourth from Cadillac, the latter to be the only make to see a decline in growth in 2014, falling 6.5 percent to 170,750 units; Audi sold 182,011 over the same period, 15.2 percent more than it did in 2013.

Acura and Infiniti took sixth and seventh respectively, with 167,843 to 117,300 units moved. Both also experienced the lowest rates of growth in sales in the outgoing year: 1.5 percent in Acura’s favor, 0.8 percent for Infiniti.

Lincoln finished dead last with 94,474 units sold, but had the biggest rate of growth out of its fellow competitors compared to 2013 at 15.6 percent.

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Review: 2015 Lincoln Navigator http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2015-lincoln-navigator/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2015-lincoln-navigator/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948177 Long-time followers of my racing adventures, if there are any, will know that my trips to Houston have been less than perfectly satisfying and/or marked by misbehavior. By contrast, my stint behind the wheel of a 944 Turbo in the LeMons Gator-O-Rama was probably my sanest Texas trip in years. It didn’t hurt that I […]

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Long-time followers of my racing adventures, if there are any, will know that my trips to Houston have been less than perfectly satisfying and/or marked by misbehavior. By contrast, my stint behind the wheel of a 944 Turbo in the LeMons Gator-O-Rama was probably my sanest Texas trip in years.

It didn’t hurt that I wasn’t driving a Kia with the bumper ripped halfway off but rather a vehicle that, like David Bowie’s stage outfits, only works in one place, but perfectly so when it is there.

That place is Texas and the vehicle is the revised-for-2015 Lincoln Navigator. Our august founder, Robert Farago, would have started his review by reminding all and sundry that this SUV is, fundamentally, a 2004 Ford F-150. While that’s true, as the former owner of a 2003 Discovery 4.6 and its straight-outta-1970-Range-Rover underpinnings, I’m not necessarily inclined to damn it simply because it’s not based on the most modern vehicle in the segment. So let’s give the Navigator a chance to stand or fall on its own merits.

Start with the looks: the maxi-MKC front end is a distinct improvement on the faux-Continental, MKX-derived look that marked the current Navi for its first seven years on the market. Although the idea of the 2007 Navigator’s styling was sound, the execution had Ford doing a last-minute flip-flop on the brightwork and the dealers were very far from being happy with it. Remember, as always, that the dealers are the true customers in the eyes of the manufacturers. If they don’t like, it’s no good, and they most definitely did not like the “Continental” Navigator. The new tail is extremely distinctive and had plenty of people in Houston parking lots inquiring about the ‘Gator’s price and availability.

There’s no getting around the fact that the Lincoln Navigator and its direct competitor, the Cadillac Escalade, are depressingly crass exercises in marketing that demean everyone involved in their design, production, and consumption — as long as you live on the East Coast or in San Francisco or in my remarkably reserved hometown of Powell, Ohio. In Texas, by contrast, these are just trucks with some gingerbread, fundamentally no different from the Suburbans a-la-LTZ and loaded Expeditions all around them on the freeway. They don’t even feel or look particularly large in context with the F-350s favored for grocery runs by the Houston-Dallas crowd. After a week spent looking up at people in other trucks, this Navigator started to seem like a remarkably restrained and tasteful effort.

It helps that over the course of three generations this big SUV has become remarkably easy to operate and maneuver. It’s Volvo-square and chock-full of glass windows so parking in tight spaces is a surprising breeze. The rearview camera is as good as one could wish for and the park sensors are neither lazy nor hysterical. Steering effort is on par with my dear departed Town Car and all the controls provide feedback that is high-quality by domestic-truck standards. I’m currently spending a lot of time driving a late-model GMT900 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 around, which gives me a bit of perspective on what’s out there. Compared to that GMT900, this Navigator is superior in all respects. Compared to the current Escalade? Well, it’s less expensive at the very least, by a full eleven grand base-trim-to-base-trim.

My test vehicle had two particular virtues over above its predecessors. First, the Ecoboost six, which returned 16.2mpg over the course of about 900 miles and was perfectly matched to the needs of the vehicle. Compared to a Tahoe 5.3 it might as well be an F-106 Delta Dart, but of course you’d be comparing it to the six-liter Escalade. Which it still whips and a I have the results of a late-night stoplight drag in Cy-Fair to prove it. The Ecoboost is just enough motor for this thing and most importantly it doesn’t feel soft at low revs the way the GM LS truck engines do. Don’t think of this as a big Grand Cherokee SRT-8 competitor; it has neither Sturm nor Drang. It’s just a nice luxury truck that happens to be properly motivated.

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Apologies for the stock photography, as all my shots of the Gator’s interior feature a healthy helping of autumn Texas mud. As supplied, with the “Reserve” interior package, this truck closely approximates an actual luxury automobile, from the quality of the leather on the seats (outstanding) to the fit and finish of the dashboard (pretty tight for a body-on-frame automobile). The capacitance-touch sliders that frustrated and impressed Ford drivers in equal measure over the past few years are replaced here with chrome rocker switches. Given the massive available dashboard space in this very wide vehicle, the net effect of the small chrome buttons and restrained labeling is one of mid-fi stereo equipment.

Speaking of… I never quite got along with the THX sound system, but everybody else who heard it thought it was dynamically spacious and whatnot. When the vehicle is stopped, you can make it produce the “THX Sound” at ear-splitting volume. Quite fun, really. The associated MyFordTouch system finally works at the speed we expected back in 2010 and I never experienced any failures to operate or MFT blackscreens over the course of about nine hundred miles behind the wheel. The double-LCD instrument panel was similarly flawless. It’s really a bit of a coup to make a vehicle of this vintage work just like a new MKZ in this respect; I assume that there’s a completely modern set of fiber optics wrapped around the Navigator’s innards.

Wind noise is very mild, the ride is pretty good and very short on “head toss” thanks to the independent rear suspension that also allows a low cargo floor, and conversation between the rows is both easy and pleasant. The original Navigator was a pretty ridiculous — as in, it deserved ridicule — effort, but this one benefits both from the vast improvements on the base Expedition and the diligent effort spent on differentiating it from said Expo. My chocolate-brown test example just felt expensive inside and out. The paint sparkled. The chrome trim was solid and durable-looking. It’s no longer an F-150 with a cap and a crosshairs badge.

As a replacement for an Audi A6 or something like that, the Navigator works very well, assuming you live in Texas or Oklahoma. If you live somewhere else, you’re likely to find the sheer size and bourgeois visual aggression of the thing a bit over the top. But on its home ground, the big Lincoln is just as appropriate as a Citroen C6 would have been on the Paris autoroute. It has virtually no direct competition, insofar as the Cadillac and Lexus both cost a lot more and the Germans aren’t nearly as massive. It’s not economical but if you run something like a V8 S-Class you won’t do any better in most circumstances and on long freeway trips at 85mph — Texas, remember? — the Lincoln could return 20mpg easily.

With all that said, I would never buy a Navigator. Not in a million years. I have one major issue with the vehicle, and it’s this: As a short-wheelbase four-door, it makes no sense. The Navigator L is the one you want. The massive increase in usable space for passengers and cargo comes at a very low cost and it turns this truck from a curiosity to a genuine double-duty superstar, able to carry plywood or passengers with aplomb. It tows better thanks to the long wheelbase, too.

The era of Navigators standing-in for Town Cars or Taurus-based Continentals is nearly over, thanks to fuel prices and social perceptions. The Lincoln of the future is the hybrid MKZ or a thoroughly revised RWD Conti, neither of which will ever come close to the sheer massiveness of this truck. Still, if you want to drive something like this, and you can afford both to purchase and to operate it, why not?

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Ford: Market Share Declines Will Continue Near-Term http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-market-share-declines-will-continue-near-term/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-market-share-declines-will-continue-near-term/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955033 Things are rough for Ford on Truck Mountain, with ground lost for the fourth consecutive month in November in a market-share situation that isn’t about to improve any time soon. Automotive News reports sales fell 2 percent last month compared to the same time in 2013, with its market share in the United States diving […]

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Things are rough for Ford on Truck Mountain, with ground lost for the fourth consecutive month in November in a market-share situation that isn’t about to improve any time soon.

Automotive News reports sales fell 2 percent last month compared to the same time in 2013, with its market share in the United States diving to 14.3 percent from 15.3 percent in November 2013. The 2014 average holds at 15 percent, compared to 2013’s 15.9 percent through the first 11 months, while Ford experienced declines year over year every month this year except July.

One of the hardest-hit models was the F-150, which is undergoing its transition to aluminum, and affecting market share in so doing. 2015 models began shipping the week prior to Thanksgiving, with a handful arriving garages thus far. Vice president for U.S. marketing John Felice says inventory of the outgoing model remains sufficient, but adds that the company is maintaining a “delicate balance” with incentives until enough of the new trucks arrive on the lot. Overall inventory is at 79 days, down from 88 in October, and 89 in November 2013.

Throughout the range, every car model posted a decline in November except for the Mustang, whose sales jumped 62 percent that month, and the Police Interceptor Sedan. SUV sales fared better, with a 15 percent increase, while Lincoln posted a 21 percent boost, linked completely to the success of the MKC. Finally, the Transit reclaimed Flower Shop Lane this month, moving 373 more units over the Chevrolet Express.

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Lincoln To Undergo $5B Five-Year Extensive Revamp http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lincoln-undergo-5b-five-year-extensive-revamp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lincoln-undergo-5b-five-year-extensive-revamp/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936098 Over the next five years, every Lincoln in the showroom presently will either be redesigned or replaced as part of an overall effort by Ford CEO Mark Fields to return to the premium brand to glory. Reuters reports the plan comes with a significant investment: over $5 billion during the next five years. The money […]

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Over the next five years, every Lincoln in the showroom presently will either be redesigned or replaced as part of an overall effort by Ford CEO Mark Fields to return to the premium brand to glory.

Reuters reports the plan comes with a significant investment: over $5 billion during the next five years. The money will be spent to not only revamp the product portfolio, but to help position the portfolio against those of BMW and Mercedes-Benz at home and in China. $2 billion has already been spent in the previous two years, split between preparing the brand for the Chinese market, and refreshing and expanding the lineup before the plan kicks into gear.

The centerpiece of the restoration plan is the D6 platform, which will provide a base for front-, rear- and all-wheel drive sedans and crossovers as early as 2019. Though the platform will be shared with Ford, D6’s purpose is to help set Lincoln apart from the Blue Oval portfolio, and to make the brand more competitive with a stronger base to build upon.

The first models to be built upon the modular architecture include a mid-size sedan and a seven-passenger crossover that could take up with both the MKZ and MKT could leave off. Before then, however, a few redesigns and replacements are set to come, beginning with the redesign of the MKX and replacement of the MKS between the springs of 2015 and 2016. Following up in 2017, the Navigator would gain a new platform from the upcoming 2015 Ford F-150, with aluminum panels to match, while the MKC would get a redesign in 2018.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Lincoln MKC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-lincoln-mkc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-lincoln-mkc/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 18:38:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917954 You all know the story by now. Journalist gets Lincoln. Lincoln has some obvious flaws. Journalist says some over the top (but accurate) things about Lincoln. Lincoln gets mad, pulls access. TTAC’s commenters step in to save the day. But the story isn’t over. In the 12 months since, Lincoln has been hard at work […]

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You all know the story by now. Journalist gets Lincoln. Lincoln has some obvious flaws. Journalist says some over the top (but accurate) things about Lincoln. Lincoln gets mad, pulls access. TTAC’s commenters step in to save the day. But the story isn’t over.

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In the 12 months since, Lincoln has been hard at work at their most critical launch since the MKZ. Other vehicles in their portfolio might be more important from a brand standpoint, but this is the four-wheeled ATM, the high-margin version of the Ford Escape that will lead a Lincoln renaissance among a crossover-crazed consumer set both in the United States and the all-important Chinese market.

The Fusion may have been a game changer in what we expect from mid-size sedan styling, but the MKZ didn’t move things forward in terms of value proposition. At the very least, the MKC offers some appreciable advantages over the regular Escape.

For starters, the interior is much nicer than either the rental-spec Escape I drove, or the higher grade Titanium versions I’ve seen while helping friends and family members shop for a new crossover. I still don’t like the push button gear shifter – it feels unnatural, and I instinctively reach for a gear shifter the same way that I find myself pressing on a phantom clutch pedal when I get in an automatic transmission vehicle.

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Everything else, from the response of the MyFord Touch system, to the fit and finish of the interior materials, to the paint work and the panel gaps, seemed to be far beyond what I last experienced with a Lincoln product. I invite readers to take a look at the MKC on dealer lots and let me know if they see anything unsavory. I plan on doing so in the near future.

Although the Ford 6-speed automatic has never been one of my favorite transmissions in the industry, the new 2.3L Ecoboost engine is a peach. Throttle response is crisp, lag is minimal and the power delivery is linear and strong through the rev range. Given that this engine needs to move 4,000 pounds of crossover, it should be more than enough to motivate the 2015 Mustang Ecoboost. Hit the “S” button, and the throttle mapping, shift points and the active dampers all heighten their responses. It’s a bit much for what is ostensibly a plush luxury SUV, but it adds to the MKC’s already impressive dynamics. Then again, the Escape is one of the better handling CUVs, and starting with strong bones always helps.

That also comes with downsides. Like the Escape, the MKC’s rear seats aren’t the most comfortable or the roomiest. Fuel economy, never a strong point with the Ecoboost engines, was rather poor, returning about 15 mpg in town and 23 mpg on the highway. As I’ve said before, there’s plenty of boost with Ford’s newest engines, but a dearth of “Eco”.

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Unfortunately, my time with the MKC was cut short, since Ford of Canada apparently needed the MKC back early for a charity event. I hope they weren’t afraid that a certain writer had gotten their hands on a Lincoln and was about to take it out behind the woodshed. The MKC may not be the best luxury crossover in its class, but it’s undoubtedly competitive – and that’s more than can be said for other products in its lineup. Not to mention, an encouraging sign for the future of the brand.

Ford of Canada provided the fuel, insurance and vehicle for the purposes of this review.

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Myths and Legends: Lincoln Town Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/myths-legends-lincoln-town-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/myths-legends-lincoln-town-car/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:02:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875905 The late model Panther cars offer a unique combination of fairly modern driving characteristics and the classic feel of RWD, body-on-frame vehicle. With their longevity and durability, cheap parts and surprisingly frugal 4.6 Modular engine, they are even quite cheap to run. Of course, that’s all true if you believe the hagiography of the Panther so […]

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The late model Panther cars offer a unique combination of fairly modern driving characteristics and the classic feel of RWD, body-on-frame vehicle. With their longevity and durability, cheap parts and surprisingly frugal 4.6 Modular engine, they are even quite cheap to run. Of course, that’s all true if you believe the hagiography of the Panther so earnestly propagated by this site, and other outlets. But does it have any grounding in reality?

Last fall, I had the fortune of getting my hands on nearly exactly the car I’ve wanted to try. Even better was that I didn’t just borrow it for a while for a review – I got a chance to drive it for extended period of time. In fact, I’m still driving it.

The car in question is a 1998 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series. The first year of the new, much more rounded (dubbed “Hyundai-look” in Czech US car enthusiast circles) and brutally decontented model. Electric trunklid pull-down? Fuggetaboutit. Keyless entry keypads on the doors (the feature which was always one of the reasons why I wanted to own a Lincoln)? No way. You don’t even get a storage box in the passenger door with the model year, although there are fake shut lines.

So, in some ways, this could be a prime example of “how the mighty have fallen”. Proud name, once-proud-badge and huge size, but inside, the materials, fit and finish of a cheap econobox from somewhere in South East Asia.

Now add the chassis and suspension, still based on that of the 1979 Panther, and the big V8 with a meagre 200 horsepower, which wasn’t exactly stellar performance in late 1990s. Not to mention the four speed slushbox. It seems you have every reason to declare this car an antiquated piece of junk and move on. But as you probably already guessed, my opinion is quite a bit different. Why?

Being a broke motoring journo in Europe with a taste for big V8s, is the running costs. Forget everything you have ever heard about European engines being frugal. They’re frugal because they’re small and fitted in small cars. If you compare them pound for pound and horse for horse, the outcome isn’t nearly as favorable. The Town Car is, in gentle driving, able to get 8.5 l/100km (27mpg) on European roads, and I’m sure that there’s still some room for improvement – 30mpg seems totally doable to me. And even when you don’t do an economy run, it still moves at 9 – 9.5 l/100km pretty comfortably.

A similar-era Mercedes 220CE (famous W124) got pretty much the same fuel mileage as the Lincoln – even in city traffic. And although the V8 power doesn’t help the Lincoln to be any quicker than the four-cylinder Benz, the whole notion that you can drive a big, smooth V8 and use as much gas as the rough four-cylinder gives one pause.

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And then there are the spares. For many people, the fear that spare parts for an American car will be hard to get in Europe is one of the main reasons not to buy one. They’re also right in one respect – if you need your car to be ready at all times, and spares to be available within 24 hours, you have to look elsewhere. That little pond between us still doesn’t help with quick delivery, and you will wait for your parts for about a week (specialised US car part vendors here in CZ), a few days (RockAuto, quick but terribly expensive shipping) or up to two months (container transport, extremely cheap). Compared to the fact that most parts for common European models can be had within the aforementioned 24 hours, it is a major downside of owning an American car here. But the upside is that the parts are really cheap.

Remember that those fragile European cars with expensive spares are the norm here – and parts aren’t any cheaper for them in Europe. In fact, when you include taxes, even spares for European cars are sometimes cheaper when you get them from US. Things like getting a whole set of shocks for $50 in US, which means some $100-120 with postage, custom duty and tax? People don’t believe me when I tell them how much I paid. They usually think that spares for US cars have to be outrageously expensive when they’re shipped overseas (like other spares weren’t shipped from China) and they’re flabbergasted when they find out that stuff for the Town Cars costs half that of the parts for the locally produced Škoda Octavia of similar vintage.

So, is it all about the Town Car being a huge car that is affordable to drive? A way for someone who’s broke to brag about his car being bigger than the S-class Mercedes? It’s not even that big on the inside – except for the sheer width, the short version of the Town Car is not that much more spacious inside than a Ford Mondeo. So, is it just the “mine is bigger than yours” thing?

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I may be lying to myself, but I don’t think so. No, for me, the real reason to drive a Town Car is the way it drives, the way it feels on the road and how it feels inside. Some of you may remember my older article about the Chevy Caprice and the magic of RWD, body-on-frame sedans/wagons. I loved the GM B-bodies and old Panthers because of their unique way they drive – the combination of soft-sprung suspension, huge torque on tap, super-light steering wheel and lots of lock, making it more akin to steering a motorboat than driving a car.

The last generation Panthers promise to preserve the old-timey driving characteristics, and add much better roadholding, higher mileage and modern comforts. But the thing I always wondered about was whether the suspension and steering improvements didn’t spoil the unique character of the old BOF sedans.

And after several months of using it daily, I can say that both my hopes and fears were fulfilled, in some ways.

The first good thing is that with all the suspension improvements, like sway bars front and rear, Watts link and stiffers springs and shocks, the modern Panther is stable enough at any normal speeds. I have never tried to go really fast with it, but I’m sure it can stay planted at 100mph on highway.

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Another good thing is that it has kept lots of the old Panther’s character. It’s still a big boat, with that unique feel coming from the combination of driver’s position being near the middle of the car, long overhangs, great lock and so on. Add the light, numb steering and sofa seats, and you still have a car that makes you want to go slowly and gently – which is perfect for when you want to get to your destination relaxed and with great mileage, as opposed to being stressed from high-speed run provoked by the sporty suspension of some modern European car.

The bad thing? Chasing the handling improvements, Ford engineers decided to fit much sitffer springs to the front of the Town Car. The outcome is the loss of much of the typical “floatiness”, without gaining significant high-speed handling imrpovements that weren’t already there thanks to the sway bars and Watts link. I even looked at replacing the springs with softer ones from the older model.

Another bad thing is the engine’s need for revs – it’s not as effortless as the old 302 was. On the other hand, the fuel economy is more than enough to make up for that.

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But overall, those are small things. The main point of owning a Panther is that it still offers more than just a whiff of the “classic American feel”, while being totally useable and reasonable as a daily driver. The fact is that if you’re used to driving an 80s Panther – or even its prefecessors from 1970s or even 1960s, you will still feel right at home in this car. As Murilee once put it, when describing his old 1990s CrownVic Police Interceptor – this car is what the 1960s fullsize sedans should have been.

Myth or Legend?
Definitely a legend. Last of the body-on-frame fullsize sedans. The unique combination of modern handling and amenities with classic land-yacht feel.

Do I need to drive it?
By any means, yes. If only to find out what all us Panthers Lovers are blabbing about.

Should I buy it?
If you like old car feel and don’t like the old car handling and unreliability, certainly. As a reasonable transportation? Not so sure.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

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Study: Nine Brands Suffer Loyalty Issues Among Their Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=896834 Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational. In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. […]

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2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational.

In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. says the following nine brands are likely to see their customers jump ship to another brand come trade-in or lease time:

  • Mitsubishi: 21.77 percent average
  • Chrysler: 22.72 percent average
  • Dodge: 22.88 percent average
  • Jaguar: 25.45 percent average
  • Scion: 25.79 percent average
  • Lincoln: 27.49 percent average
  • Infiniti: 28.25 percent average
  • Volvo: 29.41 percent average
  • Buick: 29.45 percent average

The study notes the brands with the highest loyalty averages also move the most units off the lot, while low-loyalty brands have sales to match; six of the nine listed sold less than 100,000 units during H1 2014.

As for what inspires loyalty in the first place, KBB senior manager of marketing intelligence Arthur Henry says price and reliability play the most important roles in whether a customer will stick with a brand. However, luxury makes like Jaguar, Infiniti and Buick suffer not from perceptions of poor reliability, but fierce competition from within the U.S. luxury market.

That said, Arthur notes customers can switch loyalties no matter how a brand is perceived, citing economic conditions and changing consumer preferences as factors in switching.

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Galhotra Takes The Reins As Lincoln’s New President http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/galhotra-takes-the-reins-as-lincolns-new-president/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/galhotra-takes-the-reins-as-lincolns-new-president/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871938 As one of his first major moves since becoming CEO, Ford’s Mark Fields named vice president of engineering Kumar Galhotra as president of Lincoln, effective September 1. Automotive News reports Galhotra, who will report directly to the new CEO, will be the premium brand’s first president since Al Giombetti left the post in 2007. The […]

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As one of his first major moves since becoming CEO, Ford’s Mark Fields named vice president of engineering Kumar Galhotra as president of Lincoln, effective September 1.

Automotive News reports Galhotra, who will report directly to the new CEO, will be the premium brand’s first president since Al Giombetti left the post in 2007. The move will also reduce executive vice president of global sales, service and marketing Jim Farley’s role with Lincoln, which will be focused on marketing the brand once Galhotra takes over.

The new president — an engineer and product executive who has worked with Lincoln, Ford and Mazda in the past — will bring his marketing experience to the table as Lincoln prepares to launch in China later in 2014; he headed Ford’s Asia Pacific division from 2009 to 2013, and helped bring about the new Ranger pickup to market.

Speaking of the division, engineering director Jim Holland will move from there to replace Galhotra as Ford’s vice president of engineering, reporting to global product development chief Raj Nair.

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Lincoln Nearly Axed By Mullaly, Saved By Fields http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lincoln-nearly-axed-by-mullaly-saved-by-fields/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lincoln-nearly-axed-by-mullaly-saved-by-fields/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 11:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856513 Today marks the day Mark Fields becomes CEO of Ford, taking up where now-former CEO Alan Mullaly leaves off. This day may also mark the day Lincoln begins its slow climb back from the brink, especially when Mullaly once considered killing the brand before Fields became its champion. Bloomberg reports Lincoln, then struggling to find […]

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2015 Lincoln MKC

Today marks the day Mark Fields becomes CEO of Ford, taking up where now-former CEO Alan Mullaly leaves off. This day may also mark the day Lincoln begins its slow climb back from the brink, especially when Mullaly once considered killing the brand before Fields became its champion.

Bloomberg reports Lincoln, then struggling to find footing after years of assimilating Fords upmarket with no unique product in sight, would have gone the way of Mercury had not Fields and global marketing chief Jim Farley convinced Mullaly that the brand was worth saving. Now that he is CEO, Fields will be leading the effort to bring Lincoln up to fighting trim.

The first product of this effort is the MKC, which shares its mechanical base with the Ford Escape and its 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four with the upcoming Ford Mustang. However, the crossover’s design is 85 percent unique to itself, and has premium features on par with its competitors — BMW X3, Audi Q5, Acura RDX — including soft-touch leather and parallel-parking technology. The crossover follows the MKZ — whose delayed roll-out over technical gremlins prompted the debate over Lincoln’s fate — and will be later joined by a redesigned MKX and the replacement for the MKS.

The MKC will be aimed at drawing buyers from premium brands like Cadillac and Lexus, Ford owners wanting to move up, as well as young first-time buyers and empty nesters looking to downsize. The road back to the top will be long, however; though U.S. sales climbed 21 percent during the first half of 2014 with 37,251 models leaving the showroom, annual sales are 65 percent down from the brand’s peak in 1990.

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Detroit Three Lead The Charge In Chinese SUV Boom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/detroit-three-lead-the-charge-in-chinese-suv-boom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/detroit-three-lead-the-charge-in-chinese-suv-boom/#comments Tue, 29 Apr 2014 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=812234 Long after the first SUV gold rush in the United States, the Detroit Three are gearing up for a second gold rush, this time in China. Automotive News reports SUVs and crossovers have snagged 19 percent of the local market in 2013 as the once-dominant luxury sedan market fell from 47 percent in 2000 to […]

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2014 Lincoln MKX Concept

Long after the first SUV gold rush in the United States, the Detroit Three are gearing up for a second gold rush, this time in China.

Automotive News reports SUVs and crossovers have snagged 19 percent of the local market in 2013 as the once-dominant luxury sedan market fell from 47 percent in 2000 to 15 percent. General Motors forecasts as many as 7 million SUVs will leave the showroom by 2020, with president Dan Ammann noting that 60 percent of first-time buyers in China bought an SUV last year. Further, Ford credits crossovers for a sales surge of 49 percent in 2013, pushing Toyota out of the No. 5 slot in a local market that views SUVs and crossovers as being, in the words of Chevrolet dealer He Sei, “sportier, more fashionable and more youthful” than other vehicles.

To capitalize upon the upcoming boom, GM brought the Chevrolet Trax to last week’s Beijing Motor Show with plans to add 10 SUVs during the next five years, while Ford introduced concept versions of the body-on-frame Everest and Lincoln MKX crossover, both of which will soon see production. Finally, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will resume Jeep production in China through a joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group Company, with three models due in 2015.

Meanwhile, Lexus, Audi, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Citroen are following the Detroit Three’s lead into the Chinese SUV/crossover market, bringing a number of concepts and production-ready vehicles to Beijing. That said, they will have a hard battle against the three U.S. automakers, as SUVs and crossovers have been their bread and butter since the first rush in the early 1990s through the late 2000s.

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Wolff Out, Woodhouse In As Lincoln Design Director http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wolff-out-woodhouse-in-as-lincoln-design-director/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wolff-out-woodhouse-in-as-lincoln-design-director/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793642 The Lincoln division of Ford has replaced former design director Max Wolff with David Woodhouse, the former head of the Blue Oval’s Premier Automotive Group, as part of the premium division’s $1 billion makeover. Bloomberg reports Wolff will remain with Lincoln as the brand’s exterior design boss, and that the change occurred in December with […]

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Max Wolff, Lincoln Exterior Design Chief

The Lincoln division of Ford has replaced former design director Max Wolff with David Woodhouse, the former head of the Blue Oval’s Premier Automotive Group, as part of the premium division’s $1 billion makeover.

Bloomberg reports Wolff will remain with Lincoln as the brand’s exterior design boss, and that the change occurred in December with little fanfare, as Ford no longer issues press releases for promotions below the vice president level, according to spokesman Stephane Cesareo. Both design chiefs were brought over from General Motors to Ford, with Wolff arriving in 2010 from Cadillac, and Woodhouse from GM’s design studios in 1999.

Wolff’s biggest mark on Lincoln is the current MKZ, which he reworked immediately upon arrival in 2010. Though the premium sedan — based upon the Ford Fusion — faced production problems that saw the overall brand’s sales fall to a low not seen in over 30 years, the MKZ’s success boosted Q1 2014 sales to 36 percent.

Aside from his styling work with PAG, Woodhouse was in charge of Ford’s advanced design studio in California between 2004 and 2009, and guided Lincoln’s strategy between July through December of 2013 before becoming the brand’s new director of design.

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Lincoln to Consider “Legacy” Names Due to Chinese Influence http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/lincoln-to-consider-legacy-names-due-to-chinese-influence/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/lincoln-to-consider-legacy-names-due-to-chinese-influence/#comments Fri, 29 Nov 2013 16:04:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=666594 Remember when Lincoln had cars with names such as Mark, Continental, Zephyr, Town Car and Versailles? Alas, unless you want to own a body-on-frame SUV from the newly renamed Lincoln Motor Company, your choices begin with MK, and end with a letter that somehow corresponds to the model in question. Should Ford’s VP of Global […]

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2014 Lincoln MKS

Remember when Lincoln had cars with names such as Mark, Continental, Zephyr, Town Car and Versailles? Alas, unless you want to own a body-on-frame SUV from the newly renamed Lincoln Motor Company, your choices begin with MK, and end with a letter that somehow corresponds to the model in question.

Should Ford’s VP of Global Marketing Jim Farley have his way, however — and you happen to also be a resident of China — the next Lincoln to be sold may have a real name upon its backside once more.

Why? The Blue Oval plans to reintroduce Lincoln to the Chinese market, who still remembers when many a government official and president turned up in a Continental; this may also explain in part why the lead car in the funeral for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il was a Lincoln, if not how it got there in the first place.

Farley believes the concept of non-alphanumeric nomenclatures is worth revisiting, though no current model will receive a proper name for the foreseeable future. Until then, Lincoln’s customer base will continue to need to remember which MK is the right MK for them, unless they want a Navigator, of course.

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4000 Miles In A Lincoln MKZ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/4000-miles-in-a-lincoln-mkz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/4000-miles-in-a-lincoln-mkz/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 14:15:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=513121 Øyvind Birkeland is a Mechanical Engineer from Norway who works with developing internal combustion engines. A lifelong car enthusiast, he owns a 1961 Ford Anglia which has been sitting in a barn for 20 years. Mr. Brikeland is a Panther Lover, having owned a 1997 Crown Victoria LX in the past. After reading the recent […]

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Øyvind Birkeland is a Mechanical Engineer from Norway who works with developing internal combustion engines. A lifelong car enthusiast, he owns a 1961 Ford Anglia which has been sitting in a barn for 20 years. Mr. Brikeland is a Panther Lover, having owned a 1997 Crown Victoria LX in the past. After reading the recent review of the MKZ here on TTAC and hearing about the fallout, he contacted us to offer his thoughts regarding the car — JB

This summer my girlfriend and I decided to do a road trip across the US from LA to Miami. Like many Europeans we have been thinking and dreaming about doing something like this for a while, so this year we decided to do it. We booked a flight to LA and a return ticket from Miami 23 days later. A lifelong car enthusiast, the biggest job for me during the preparation for this trip was to find the right car. I was seriously considering buying back my ’97 Crown Vic LX which I had owned while living in San Diego and using it for the trip, but I didn’t know what shape it was in and I deemed it too risky. We decided to get a rental instead. It was imperative for me to have an American car; coming back home to Europe and telling people I did a 4000 mile Trans-American road trip in a Kia would be an embarrassment I would not have been able to live with. Luckily National provides a rental class which only includes Cadillacs and Lincolns. We booked it without knowing which model we were going to get.

Arriving at LAX the excitement of getting to explore the parking lot’s LCAR section was pretty intense. To my absolute joy there were several 2013 MKZs waiting for us to choose from. I have really liked the design of this car after seeing the Super Bowl commercial and it was my absolute favorite of National’s LCAR fleet. This was also before Kreindler’s infamous slaughter of the car, so I was in bliss. We immediately grabbed a black 3.7. Except for the large engine, the car was in its absolute base configuration which means a MRSP of just over $37k. However, basic configuration in the MKZ includes the CCD suspension, Active Noise Control, paddle shifters, a nice stereo with Sirius XM and leather seats. I was satisfied. I think a similarly equipped BMW 330i would cost somewhere around $11k more, so my first impression was that you’ll get good value for your money with the MKZ.

It had been a while since I drove a car with an automatic, but it did feel nice to just press D on the dash and cruise around LA in this absolutely gorgeous car. I put the suspension in comfort mode which provides a very smooth ride. Combined with the Active Noise Control, cruising on both city streets and highway roads was more comfortable than in any other car I have driven to date. German cars in the same price segment do not perform as well at this as the MKZ in my opinion.

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As the picture shows we went for a drive up the winding roads of Mulholland drive. With S-mode activated the car changes character. The steering and dynamic suspension firms up and invites you to utilize all 300 hp from the V6. The active noise control does not mute the engine growl, which sounds pretty good for a midsize family sedan. However the transmission leaves a lot to be desired. It is a traditional automatic with a torque converter and it feels slushy even with the flappy paddle override activated. It is no problem keeping it in gear until the redline, but gear changes are slow and uninspiring. With such a nice engine and suspension system, the only right thing to do would be to give it a great twin-clutched fast shifting box. However, I don’t know if Ford currently has one that would do this car justice, and as Americans don’t buy stick shifts the 6F-50 was the only transmission left in their parts bin. Annoyingly, Lincoln has built in a “safety” feature into the electronics of this transmission which can infuriate the calmest of men: if you for some reason should open the driver’s door while backing up, the transmission throws itself into Park, kamikaze style. As rearward visibility in the MKZ is very bad, this “safety feature” can be very annoying when trying to figure out how far you are from the curb or another car while backing into a parking space. The lag between pushing the button and the car shifting back to R is also too long, adding to the irritation.

When we are talking about annoying things about the MKZ, it makes me want to ask Ford a serious question: Who was the genius who decided to put highly reflective chrome rings around the buttons on the steering wheel? In the afternoon when the sun is low the light hits them through the window and for some magic reason the sun’s rays always end up in the middle of the drivers eyeballs, making you want to rip the trim right off the steering wheel. And in the unlikely situation that the chrome rings are not in a position to blind you, you can be sure the big Lincoln cross in the middle of the steering wheel is. So while it surely is way too dangerous to back up at 3 mph into a parking space with the door halfway open, driving though 85 mph traffic in Texas completely blinded by the sun is not a problem according to the Lincoln engineers. Adding to the frustration the buttons on the steering wheel are unresponsive and requires to be pushed in much longer than what you assume.

However, I am not going to turn this into another MKZ-slaughter today. I do like the car a whole lot, so let me continue with some good sides again. On the outside, best side of the car is arguably the ass-side of it. In my opinion it looks pretty distinguishable, which is something I would imagine the car designers try to accomplish. The MKS is a good example of the opposite. However, distinguishable design does not always mean good design. In the MKZ’s case I believe the designers nailed it pretty well. Design wise it has differentiated itself a lot more from the Fusion than the CD3 did, even though I might like the Fusion better at least from the side view. I would imagine that it’s important for the average Lincoln buyer that people doesn’t confuse it with a Fusion. I am looking forward to seeing similar design cues on the next models. I also like the fact that Lincoln has not been tempted to use retro styling on it. Cadillac also refrained from using any type of retro styling on the CTS and it worked out pretty well at first. Nobody in their right mind would choose a 2012 MKZ over a 2012 CTS based only on design. Next year the table might have turned. The MKZ has gone from meh to wow, while the CTS has gone from cool to bloated. But then there is the situation regarding FWD/RWD. Let’s not get into that discussion.

On the inside, the MKZ has been transformed from something extremely boring and ’90s looking to something that is innovative, practical and very good looking. Why any car maker that offers a car without a manual option insists on wasting perfectly good center console area on a pointless knob is beyond my comprehension. When Lincoln instead put the gear selection up on the dash it freed up space to make a very good looking dash/center console unit. There are two open shelves in the center console that is convenient for putting your phone, wallet, Snus or whatever you might carry in your pockets. On top there are some nicely hidden cup holders and ash tray/12V socket, and RCA connectors, SD-slot and two USB ports in the arm rest. There is however a serious problem with the dash and integrated touch screen, and it is called “fingerprints”. After only a day it starts to look very smudgy. This again leads to difficulties reading the information on the slow operating infotainment MySyncing Lincoln Touchness screen or whatever they call it. And why do automakers nowadays think it’s a good idea making touch screens and buttons that it is impossible to operate without actually taking your eyes off the road? What is the problem with buttons that you can feel with your fingers without looking at them? I guess they forgot how to make good looking buttons (if they ever really knew how to do it. I don’t know the answer to that one).

Everybody is complaining about badge engineering this and not a real Lincoln that, right? But then the concept of kit architecture and platform sharing is hailed as the only way to be able to survive in the future of the car industry. So where does the border go between badge engineering and platform sharing? My Skoda Superb is built on the same B5 platform as the Audi A4 but it doesn’t give me much premium car love from my non-engineer friends. Yet when I have to change any mechanical parts on it I always notice that they all have four rings stamped on them. Like the old Superb, the MKZ is built on a very good platform that is well regarded by auto journalists and car buyers alike. Lincoln’s problem however is that the Fusion got the CD4 first. VAG always gives Audi the new things first and then adopts it to VW and then to Seat and Skoda. If Ford did it the same way, giving Lincoln the new stuff first and then passing it down to Ford afterwards, maybe the situation would have been different and the accusations of badly performed Badge Engineering would calm down a bit.

We drove the car 4000 miles through nine states and it was a fantastic trip. The combination of very comfortable front seats, a good looking and quiet interior, adjustable suspension and a great stereo made it a very good highway cruiser. The computer showed 26 MPG for the whole 4000 miles. I am used to getting MPG in the low ‘40s in my diesel Superb, so I wasn’t impressed. But then again my Skoda doesn’t have 300 hp. I never really inspected the quality issues like panel gaps and poor finish in the welds on it, but I guess stuff like that would be possible to improve on the production line. If it’s still an issue I hope they will figure out how to fix it soon. My fuel filler door never popped open unexpectedly like it did on Kreindler’s loaner.

So what do you get if you decide to buy an MKZ? Is it just a glorified Fusion with a special grill and no gear knob at a much higher price? I haven’t tried the Fusion, but my initial answer would be no. The ’13 Lincoln is definitely a lot more distinguishable from the Fusion than the previous one was. Whether you like the Fusion’s or the MKZ’s design best, there is no mistaking one for the other anymore. It’s around $6k more expensive than a Fusion Titanium, but for your extra money you do get a V6, the advanced Continuously Controlled Damper system, active noise control and a more luxurious interior. And unlike new Buicks it doesn’t look like a grandfather’s car. I am a 28 year old mechanical engineer and I felt really good driving around in it, better than I would if I was driving a comparable German car. If I should give it a numerical value on a scale of zero to something I would give it an e on a scale from 0 – π.

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TTAC “Blacklisted” By Ford Of Canada Due To Excessively Truthful MKZ Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/ttac-blacklisted-by-ford-of-canada-due-to-excessively-truthful-mkz-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/ttac-blacklisted-by-ford-of-canada-due-to-excessively-truthful-mkz-review/#comments Thu, 29 Aug 2013 12:55:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=502145 We’ll make this short and simple. Derek Kreindler’s forthright review of the new Lincoln MKZ was posted a month and three days ago. Immediately after the review went live, Derek’s next press loaner from Ford was canceled with no reason given. All further requests for Ford press loaners in Canada have been denied. On August […]

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We’ll make this short and simple. Derek Kreindler’s forthright review of the new Lincoln MKZ was posted a month and three days ago. Immediately after the review went live, Derek’s next press loaner from Ford was canceled with no reason given. All further requests for Ford press loaners in Canada have been denied. On August 6th, I sent an email to Ford’s head of PR in Canada.


The email read like so:

Christine,

My name is Jack Baruth and I am the recently-appointed editor-in-chief of The Truth About Cars.

Two weeks ago we posted a review of the Lincoln MKZ that detailed significant quality and execution flaws with our test example.

It is my understanding that since the review was posted, our Canadian editor Derek Kriendler has had his previously scheduled Ford media loaners canceled. Furthermore, he has been advised that he will have no further access to Ford vehicles. I have also heard from sources within Ford media operations in the United States that Derek is on some sort of “blacklist”.

I find it rather difficult to believe that the second-largest North American automaker communicates with the press by mysteriously canceling loaners and “sending messages” through third parties. It’s passive-aggressive to a contemptible extent.

I’d like to confirm with you that no such action has in fact taken place and that there has been a misunderstanding. While I can certainly empathize with the concerns that have been voiced to me about the review, I’d rather handle them in a conversation that through some juvenile idiocy where Derek can’t get anybody at Ford to return a phone call and as a consequence he test-drives random MKZs from dealership inventory and photographs their numerous and sundry quality flaws for, oh, I don’t know, once a week for the next two months.

We stand behind the review as written but given the generally positive press we have provided for Ford products from the Shelby Mustang to the Flex Ecoboost I am surprised at this reaction. If, in fact, it is a reaction and not simply a misunderstanding.

I received no response to that email. I have called Christine twice since then, have been sent to voicemail twice, and have not received a return call. We’ve given Ford nearly a month to respond to our inquiries or to communicate with us in any way, shape, or form. No response has occurred.

It should be noted that during this episode, we received an invite to the Ford Fiesta ST program here in the United States, sent an American writer, (Matt Fink) and reviewed the vehicle. We also participated in the Boss Track Attack program and will be bringing you a review of that program in the near future. (Hint: it’s fantastic.)

As I noted in my email, this sort of passive-aggressive response is beneath a manufacturer of Ford’s stature. Unfortunately, it’s par for the course: when GM blacklisted me five years ago, the way I found out about it was by arriving at the airport to a canceled flight. GM’s PR people simply sent me to voicemail and threw my emails away. I finally got the scoop through a phone conversation with another journalist who was told to “give me the word”. When I was re-blacklisted by GM two years ago, the way I found out about it was through a rumor, apparently spread by GM personnel, that I’d crashed a CTS-V during a press event. The truth was that I shortcut Turn 16 as described here. Although there was grass in the lower grille of the car, there was no damage and the car continued to participate in the event, as did I, with no difficulty or confrontation involved. Not until I got home did I hear that I’d never be coming back. We have a word in Ohio for “men” who behave in that manner, but insofar as TTAC is family-oriented to a certain extent I won’t mention it.

You could argue, and I am certain that some of our argumentative readers will argue, that insofar as Ford of Canada refuses to directly inform me that TTAC has been blacklisted, that we have not been blacklisted but in fact simply are no longer scheduled for press loaners or events. To me, it’s effectively the same thing. I’ve been informed that a major Canadian newspaper is also enduring the “silent treatment” for an uncomplimentary MKZ review. If we can find out more, we’ll tell you.

While I can certainly understand that certain parties at Ford might be upset by our review, insofar as it pointed out numerous flaws in the MKZ that had gone unreported elsewhere, the proper way to address these concerns would be by contacting us and discussing the concerns. Was the MKZ loaner defective for a reason? Was it a pre-production car? Had it been abused or quality-tested to death? We’ll never know, because Ford’s actual response has been to attempt to punish Derek.

Ford of Canada may be under the impression that we will beg to have our access back at any cost, including the cost of sacrificing our integrity. Ford of Canada may be under the impression that TheTruthAboutCars can be intimidated or bullied into giving positive reviews to Ford products regardless of the merits of those products. Ford of Canada may be under the impression that TTAC can be manipulated through passive third-party communications and unspoken threats. They are mistaken on all counts. This site was founded because one man, Robert Farago, would not be silenced. It will continue to provide the truth about cars to the readers. This isn’t Motor Trend. We work for you, not for Ralph Gilles or Geoff Day or Terry Rhadigan or Christine Hollander. We are committed to bringing you the truth. When a Ford product is better than great (step forward, Boss 302) we’ll praise it. When it’s pretty good (hello there, Fusion Ecoboost) we’ll share that with you. When it’s not worth the money, we’ll tell you — and we did.

We’re hoping for a swift resolution of this issue with Ford of Canada. In the meantime, feel free to share your concerns with this attempt to punish the truth at Ford’s Facebook page. And if you see a Lincoln MKZ out in the wild looking like it needs some quality control, feel free to send us the picture. Perhaps a dozen photos of misaligned fuel doors will convince Ford that TTAC isn’t out to get them. Failing that, it might convince them to fix the fuel doors. We’d settle for that.

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Capsule Review: 2013 Lincoln MKZ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/capsule-review-2013-lincoln-mkz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/capsule-review-2013-lincoln-mkz/#comments Wed, 24 Jul 2013 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495478 “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, […]

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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Review: 2012 Lincoln Navigator http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/review-2012-lincoln-navigator/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/review-2012-lincoln-navigator/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2012 22:10:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=430885 There was a time when the Lincoln Navigator was the hottest SUV going, an epoch that coincided with the “shiny suit era” of rap music. From a peak of nearly 39,000 sold in 2003, Lincoln sold just 8018 in 2011. An anecdote related to me by a former Ford PR exec has it that Lincoln and […]

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There was a time when the Lincoln Navigator was the hottest SUV going, an epoch that coincided with the “shiny suit era” of rap music. From a peak of nearly 39,000 sold in 2003, Lincoln sold just 8018 in 2011.

An anecdote related to me by a former Ford PR exec has it that Lincoln and P. Diddy were going to collaborate on a product placement/endorsement deal – Ford gave P. Diddy a Navigator, and P. Diddy then became involved a nightclub shooting that tarnished the reputation of the music mogul himself and his then boo Jennifer Lopez. P. Diddy protegé (and recent convert to Orthodox Judaism) Shyne took the rap for the shooting, and Ford pulled the deal. Why does this bizarre footnote merit a mention? Because Diddy then adopted the Cadillac Escalade as his vehicle of choice, and everyone with any pop culture exposure knows that the Escalade is the car to have for anyone who has suddenly come in to money. The Navigator became an instant also-ran, while Cadillac’s brand was at a high point not seen since the days of tail fins.

Despite cutting a bold figure, the Navigator’s utilitarian pickup truck roots are immediately apparent after climbing aboard, as you step up from the F-Series sourced power running boards and sit in the cushy driver’s seat. There are plenty of parts bin interior pieces here, and the blonde wood, tobacco tan leather upholstery, analog clock and retro typeface gauges are ostensibly designed to evoke a sort of 1960’s Mad Men feel. The Navigator is no 1963 Continental – if anything, its Betty Draper’s Country Squire station wagon with a dose of nouveau riche vulgarity, thanks to the shiny latticework of the grille and the chrome dubs mounted at all 4 corners.

The 5.4L modular V8 isn’t a bad powerplant, with 310 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque on tap. The biggest handicap is Ford’s 6-speed automatic, which felt like an antiquated 4-speed until the spec sheet shed light on the extra two gears. On minor inclines, the transmission hunted for gears repeatedly, and kickdowns were slow and clumsy. With the 2WD setting engaged, I saw a whopping 10 mpg in the city and that’s with conservative throttle applications. $100 was barely enough to fill the Lincoln’s gargantuan gas tank. On brief highway drives, window noise seemed excessive for a luxury vehicle, and it seemed to come through the A-Pillar much like it would on an economy car. The Navigator handles as expected – tracking solidly in a straight line, soaking up bumps efficiently, feeling top-heavy but stable during directional changes.

Ford’s SYNC system with an in-dash touch screen was standard, and the system seems to have a fair number of bugs and glitches worked out. The THX certified stereo sounded crisp at high volumes, and rap music had just the right amount of obnoxious bass to render the music clear and audible to pedestrians who scowled at me while they walked past. A back-up camera and front and rear park assist systems helped maneuver the Navigator into tight spaces, a boon for soccer moms who may take the Navigator to gentrified urban neighborhoods designed before the mass adoption of the automobile.

The best place to be in a Navigator is the back seat. There’s ample room for your person in both the second and third row, though truck space is severely compromised unless the third row is folded. Luckily, there are power folding systems for the last two seats, and a power tailgate option when you’re finished.

When the Navigator first debuted, car magazines still came with mail-away cards for customers to order brochures. What a quaint notion. Even sales of the once-mighty Escalade are in the toilet, as consumers move away from profligate body-on-frame SUVs to the  car-based CUV. As an ironic novelty, the Navigator might be acceptable as a potential purchase, but I just can’t fathom why one would buy this over an Expedition (if they needed to tow a boat) or any number of crossovers out there that are better than the Navigator in every objective area. The Range Rover, an equally ostentatious (and much better engineered) vehicle has stolen the title of the official vehicle of gauche showoffs from both the Navigator and it’s Cadillac counterpart. The Navigator isn’t likely to die any time soon, as it’s a great source of profit for Ford. Ironically, for a vehicle so clearly engineered in the dreadful pre-Mulally era of Ford, the Navigator arguably has the strongest and most unique identity within Lincoln’s otherwise uninspiring lineup. Maybe keeping it around isn’t such a bad thing after all?

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Review: 2012 Lincoln MKZ Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/review-2012-lincoln-mkz-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/review-2012-lincoln-mkz-take-two/#comments Thu, 28 Jul 2011 12:39:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=404429 Fifty feet away and I was already furious. The oh-so-chipper Enterprise rep was leading us towards a Ford Fusion — and that is not a full-sized car in the Enterprise universe. Fusions are mid-sized. I’d specifically booked a full-sizer for this trip around Utah and Idaho. My hope was to receive an Impala, thus benefiting […]

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Fifty feet away and I was already furious. The oh-so-chipper Enterprise rep was leading us towards a Ford Fusion — and that is not a full-sized car in the Enterprise universe. Fusions are mid-sized. I’d specifically booked a full-sizer for this trip around Utah and Idaho. My hope was to receive an Impala, thus benefiting from the legendary 3.9V6 fuel economy and Fender-Twin-Reverb-combo-amp trunk space. This was injury added to insult. We’d waited forty-five minutes at the rental counter as a succession of elderly Mormons returning to SLC for “Pioneer Day” had asked detailed questions regarding the rental insurance, the fill-up policy, and the best place to eat near Temple Square… and now, although the parking garage was quite dark, I could plainly see the Fusion’s distinctive C-pillar ahead.

“Listen, miss,” I began, realizing that I sounded exactly like the kind of fussy old jerk I’ve spent my life avoiding and/or despising, “we requested a full-sized car, and this…”

“…is a luxury car,” she said, “I’m so sorry, we are out of full-sized cars, and I thought you would take a luxury car.” That’s when I saw the Continental star on the fender. No, the MKZ isn’t exactly a Fusion, but is it really a luxury car?

Michael Karesh provided a comprehensive styling analysis in his earlier review of the MKZ, so I will boil my opinions down to the following:

From the side: It’s a Fusion.
From the back: It could be anything.
From the front: It looks pretty good.

There you go. Michael had a loaded-out press car with the Sport package, but my rental was the $35,420 base model. There’s already $1500 cash on the hood at the moment, and if you can find a 2011 on the lots — which, honestly, shouldn’t be tough — there is $4,000 cash back on those. Either way, we are talking high twenties/low thirties.

That kind of cash would buy you a fully-equipped V-6 Accord or Camry, or it would put you into a turbocharged Korean. It will not put an ES350 or Acura TL in your driveway; the MSRP on those two is a few grand higher and the incentives aren’t quite as free-flowing. Still, those two cars are the Lincoln’s natural competition so that it is the context in which we will view it. Luckily for me, I’d just driven a brand-new ES350 a week before so my reference points were reasonably fresh.

Compared to the chunky luxo-Camry, the MKZ’s big windows and low-cowled, cliff-faced dashboard makes it seem like a much smaller car both inside and out. The reality doesn’t support the impression; not only is the Lincoln slightly heavier than the Lexus, it’s virtually the same length and offers slightly more front-passenger room. (Back-seat drivers will prefer the ES, particularly in the leg-stretching department.)

Both cars offer comfortable and not overly-sportly leather seats as standard. Heating and cooling is a $640 option on the Lexus, standard on the MKZ. During the nighttime segments of our 600-mile trip through Utah and Idaho, Vodka McBigbra kept her seat on three red LEDs while mine stayed on three blue ones. This feature alone could save your marriage, or at least save your affair.

Lexus has built a reputation on lexurious, excuse me, luxurious interiors, but while they’ve been treading water, Ford has been swimming for shore. The MKZ’s materials look and feel better than those found in the ES (to this reviewer, anyway) and its dashboard gaps are smaller. The Lexus is assembled in Japan; the Lincoln, in Mexico. Globalism on the hoof. Another surprise; the MKZ really has more interior differentiation from the Fusion than the ES does versus the Camry. I remind you all that this is the company which brought us the Versailles — but Lexus, I suppose, is the company which brought us the ES250.

Both cars ride pretty well, in the modern FWD mode. There’s a lot of weight in the nose, and no amount of gas-charged shock absorption can hide that fundamental problem. Compared to a C-Class Benz, or even my 2009 Town Car, the shocks are softer but the body motion seems considerably more pendulous. Encountering a big pavement wave at the 100-110mph velocities common out West reveals the MKZ’s severe lack of rebound damping. If you’re going to hustle in this car, consider the sport package. On the positive side, it definitely has its torque steer under better control than the Lexus, which will cheefully head for the ditch under any provocation, does.

On the freeway, our MKZ self-reported an average mileage of 26.4; around town, the number was 21.2. Given that the 263-horsepower Duratec 3.5 doesn’t exactly sing to the enthusiast soul, perhaps it’s better to spring for the no-cost hybrid option. If you’re looking for a fast car, look somewhere else — unless your idea of a “fast car” is a 1986 IROC-Z, which will find itself in arrears of the Lincoln’s wide neon taillights.

While the hybrid option is free, the MKZ’s “THX 5.1 theater surround sound” options is not — but it should be mandatory. The “Premium Sound” installed in the base car is so bad that I ended up working the fader and balance controls trying to find the defective speaker, only to come to the conclusion that they were all defective. It’s a shame because the version of SYNC installed in this system was lightning-quick in operating my 13,646-song iPod. It never missed a voice cue, from “Vladimir Ashkenazy” (my request) to “Stronger Than Pride” (V. McB). Not that the Lexus has anything comparable to offer; its sound system will be intimately familiar to anyone who has ever owned a Corolla, in operation and features if not sound quality.

The rest of the MKZ is about what you’d expect given its Fusion roots and modern-Ford trimmings. Wind noise is low, road noise is low, the trunk is capacious, nothing fell off, and it idled without complaint for over an hour, running “Max A/C” in 104-degree weather, so V. McB’s mother could recover from an overly-ambitious kayak trip down the Snake River. It’s a solid car and it gives nothing away in that respect to the Toyota.

Is it a luxury car? No and yes. It won’t bludgeon your neighbors with prestige, it won’t impress the valet, and it won’t ever sit center stage in a rap video. Its platform is prosaic, its engines are shared with family wagons and/or CUVs, and its development schedule was less Nürburgring than it was Bürgerking.

All the MKZ can claim to be is a quiet, comfortable, well-made, well-equipped car that is pleasant to drive, enjoyable to operate, and probably satisfying to own. The pricing isn’t bargain-basement but it is a bit of a bargain given the equipment and materials provided. I personally prefer it to both the ES350 and the Buick LaCrosse. If you consider either of those to be luxury cars, then consider this to be one as well, and a decent one at that.

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