Edmunds is Tired of the Lincoln MKZ

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
edmunds is tired of the lincoln mkz

If you need proof that Lincoln really is down right now, here it is: they must be down, because Edmunds is kicking them. The same blog that tossed the Volt’s salad with an enthusiasm worthy of Tom Colicchio has placed its newest MKZ tester into the stocks for a bit of the ol’ public shaming. At the crux of the issue: the disgusting fact that, when fitted with the same tires found on the BMW M5, the Lincoln MKZ outperforms it in the Edmunds slalom test.

Just kidding. There’s more to it than that. Or is there?

The article, titled “This Car Won’t Save Lincoln”, starts off with a Farago-esque broadside:

There are four things on the 2013 Lincoln MKZ that are undeniably best in class — four things that will blindside Lincoln’s rivals, and shock and awe its customers.

Those four things are its tires. The rest of the new MKZ is wanting, disappointing and generally undesirable.

Apparently, West Coast press-fleet MKZs are fitted with the Michelin Pilot Super Sport which, according to the Lincoln PR person contacted by Edmunds, is only “85 percent certain” to be offered in production. This tire, according to Edmunds, is the standard-equipment tire on the BMW M5. When equipped with that tire, the MKZ was faster through the slalom than the aforementioned M5, and one mile per hour slower than the Porsche 911.

As a racer, I respect the hell out of that. If you can beat the M5 on equal tires, when your car wasn’t engineered for those tires, that’s doing something. It speaks volumes about Ford’s ability to deliver the “European experience” for which the color rags have been screaming since time immemorial. Nice job, guys.

As a journalist, however, I’m a little concerned about the behavior displayed by both Ford and Edmunds here. Let’s start with the Blue Oval. This tire-swapping stunt isn’t even close to, say, Pontiac’s decision to drop a tuned-up 421 into the 1964 GTO tested by Car and Driver. To begin with, it was prima facie obvious — enough for the Edmunds editors to notice. I’m pretty sure the “stock” cars used by GM for all of their Burgerkingring taxpayer trackdays are a lot farther away from showroom configuration than this re-shod sedan was. With that said, the plain fact is that until the day that Lincoln customers can order their MKZs with Michelin Super Sports, they should be left off the press cars. Playing it any other way is an ethical grey area at best and customer deception at worst.

Now for Edmunds. Their review closes with this rather damning summation:

Basically, the MKZ just doesn’t feel special. And that’s the kiss of death in this hyper-competitive market, which is filled with sedans that do feel special. And make no mistake, every other manufacturer that makes an entry-luxury sedan — from Acura to Volvo — is selling a superior product.

Ford says this MKZ is the future of Lincoln. The car that will save it from suffering the same fate as Mercury, Plymouth, Oldsmobile and Pontiac. But if this is the best Ford can do, we say Mulally, Fields and Farley should just cut their losses and get the headstone ready.

Is the MKZ really inferior to the Civic-alike Volvo S60? The beaky-Accord Acura TL with its deafening interior and retro electronics? The ladies at Edmunds doth protest too much, methinks. I’m also not sure that the mass-market-sedan-based near-luxury market is “filled with sedans that do feel special.” It seems to me that whatever the MKZ’s faults in the areas of rear-seat room, four-cylinder thrust, and unethical press-car tire choices, the sheer design chutzpah of the thing makes it special. Dismissing it as an ES250 for the new millennium is a touch facile.

The problem is this: Edmunds needs the wobble. And as I’ve noted in the past:

[a particular writer] typically found his wobble the way the print guys do it nowadays: by picking on a vehicle which barely trails a close competitive set.

It’s even better if the product comes from a company which is already being privately written-off in airport hospitality lounges across the country. By blasting the MKZ, Edmunds is discharging its weapon in a safe direction. They’ll be on the right side of history; when Lincoln closes its doors, Edmunds can point to this review as evidence that they talked tough on Lincoln all the way to the grave. It makes stuff like their Acura puff piece look more credible and cements their relationship with the Acura PR people in Torrance even further.

That’s how the sausage is made. In this case, Lincoln’s providing the mystery meat in the middle. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to call my Ford PR person. Any time I see a car make good use of its tires, I don’t think hit piece; I think National Solo dark horse. MKZ, giddyap!

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2 of 110 comments
  • Timmm55 Timmm55 on Dec 18, 2012

    I like the Fusion a LOT. I like the MKZ a lot too. I would like a Fusion 1.6 EB with a manual transmission at $26K or so. I'd like a MKZ hybrid (same starting price as the standard ICE)at $36K it's a really good deal. At $42K with the retractable roof, Navigation and a bunch of of other goodies it's hard to beat in it's class.....even at 40 MPGs. The story that was missed, and clearly hinted at by Lincoln, is what will a performance Nano V6 EB MKZ be like. Some journalist! With a tire change it'll out handle an M series. Add some serious power and a performance 4 wheel drive system......Ford does Rally cars after all......it could be amazing.

  • Cozybeach Cozybeach on May 17, 2013

    How about Edmonds try to just enjoy the car and drive it and they might stop their death knell. Great Car!, I have driven the 2.0 and the 3.7. Both deliver and give so much more than a BMW, Caddy or a Fusion for the money!

  • MRF 95 T-Bird One of the reasons why Mopar dropped the removal top version was that the marketing department found that few owners, maybe 20% took the trouble to unbolt and remove the heavy fiberglass roof.
  • Zerofoo The UAW understands that this is their last stand. Their future consists of largely robot assembled EVs that contain far fewer parts. Factories moving to southern "right to work" states and factories moving to the southern-most state of Mexico.I don't think lights-out auto factories are on the horizon, but UAW demands might move those automated manufacturing process timelines up.McDonalds opened a fully automated restaurant in Texas in 2022 in response to a $15/hour minimum wage demand. I'm fairly certain that at $130/hr - fully robotic car factories start to make sense.
  • Redapple2 Cherry 20 yr old Defenders are $100,000 +. Til now.
  • Analoggrotto So UAW is singling out Ford, treating them slightly better in order to motivate the entire effort. Mildly Machiavellian but this will cost them dearly in the future. The type of ill will and betrayal the Detroit-3 must be feeling right now will be the utter demise of UAW. I just hope that this tribulation is not affecting Mary Barra's total hotness.
  • Redapple2 I guessed they were ~$150,000. Maybe attainable.