Capsule Review: 2013 Lincoln MKZ

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
capsule review 2013 lincoln mkz

“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 Workplacea 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.

That’s also how much you’ll have to fork over, before any incentives or rebates, for this car. A car that is approaching $50,000, but has a fuel filler door that spontaneously pops open every morning and hangs like a limp appendage.

I did my best to overlook the glaring quality issue that was staring me right in the face at 6 AM every day, but even the supposed selling points of the MKZ ended up pissing me off even more. Take the full length retractable sunroof, something that Lincoln’s marketing guys can’t get enough of.

When fully retracted, it effectively blocks off half of your rear window field of view, reducing the already poor rear visibility. The brochure picture (above) downplays this effect but believe me, the chunky section just below the glass panel combined with the dark tinted glass gives you a field of view worse than the first generation Chrysler 300’s windshield. Luckily, this is an option that can be avoided, but so much of Lincoln’s sales proposition as a premium car seems to be based on this feature. Lest we forget previous issues surrounding fit and finish with this feature.

So, that’s two major issues before we’ve even turned on the car. Starting it is a bit like using an ATM. You hit the starter button on the center stack, then hit Reverse to back out, then Drive to go forward. All of this is done via a column of push buttons, like an old Chrysler, except there’s a discernible lag with this system that you don’t find elsewhere. Having never really experienced it before, I found it a bit disconcerting. The MyLincoln Touch system was as crappy as ever, slow to respond and awkward to use thanks to its haptic controls. The boys at Allen Park ought to start looking very closely at UConnect, and how easy it is to make a touch screen system that actually works. The 2.0 Ecoboost engine returned a whopping 16 mpg in city driving, while the turbo took forever to spool up when the accelerator was pressed. So much for downsizing engines to achieve greater fuel economy.

Most cars seem to have one redeeming feature that saves them from the depths of vehicular Hades. This has none. It does nothing better than a Fusion, costs as much as a decently equipped 3-Series, and displays the kind of QC issues that one would have expected from a Korean auto maker a decade ago. In such a competitive marketplace, this is a disgrace. The Lincoln MKZ is one of the most poorly executed cars in recent memory. There is literally nothing redeeming about it. I can think of more reasons to avoid it than to buy it. And I’m not the only one – Lincoln had so little faith in this car, that they had to pump up early driving impressions by putting Ferrari 599 GTO-spec Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on the car. Even then, nobody was fooled.

Once upon a time, Lincoln stood for something. It was the car of choice for pimps and presidents and every high-profile individual in between, whether your name was Iceberg Slim or John F. Kennedy. The MKZ, however, is for the kind of person Iceberg Slim would deride as a “mark” or a “sucker” – someone too dumb or brand loyal to go buy anything else. In the words of Nino Brown, another famous pimp, Ford ought to “ cancel this bitch” and get back to making something worthy of the brand.

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

Join the conversation
2 of 279 comments
  • Jrasero23 Jrasero23 on Apr 19, 2014

    So just picked up a CPO 2011 Lincoln MKZ AWD. So some background, I am 27 Asian and my last car was a 2010 Accord EX-L V6. I wouldn't say I am in Lincoln's typical demographic but I still believe the Lincoln name stands for something and I like the handsome toothy grill and loads of standard features. Living in the North East I felt like I needed an AWD car which Honda doesn't make unless you upgrade to an Acura TL and I wanted to upgrade to a four door since the coupe life was becoming a pain. I've been to multiple Lincoln dealers and one of the questions I am asked is why I don't want a "new" MKZ and my reasoning for buying a used MKZ is because Lincoln doesn't hold it value well, so a new overpriced Lincoln after a few years becomes a good lower cost CPO car. Secondly while I love the new generations spaceship design and options, the new MKZ has some kinks that need to be ironed out. I asked how the new MKZ was selling and all the dealers said very well, and the problem is lack of stock. This could explain some quality issues, but I think its deeper than lack of quality control but rather lack of thought. The push to drive system is futuristic like the modern touch controls on the dash or even the spaceship styling, but it also might be ahead of its time. The average Lincoln buyer was at least 60, and was the type of person you associate with Lincoln, old and loyal and loves cars with power and comfort. With this being said it was funny to see salespeople try to explain the push to drive system to people. An older women test driving a car was in the parking lot for 25 minutes trying to get it in reverse. My point being, even if the push to drive system didn't have lag, the system itself might be too advanced for the typical Lincoln customer right now, which is something Lincoln needed to think of. I have test driven the new Lincoln MKZ car and its very good, but there relies the problem, you can't be just very good when your marketing yourself as a luxury car company and not near luxury and when you hope to compete directly with Lexus. Also, its one thing to have little things wrong with the paint or finish of the car, but then to ask a premium price similar to Japanese and German rivals is a very hard sell. Not that Buick is a business to totally emulate but, Lincoln needs to either bring a better complete product to the market or they need to compete with price like Buick, allowing new generations to buy into the Lincoln legacy. On another note, after driving my 2011 MKZ I feel that the MKZ has gotten a bad rap for being too close to the Fusion Sport. First little things like leather and interior are totally different in the MKZ, in a good way. The Fusion Sport to me came off cheap and toyish with its blue/red leather and dash. While the MKZ has real wood or aluminum trim and Bridge of Weir leather. Yes the car drives fairly similar, but my Accord drove 90% like a TL. So word of advise wait for the next years model for kinks to be smoothed out or get a CPO s you don't ask yourself or have people asking you why you bought a Lincoln for $40K when you could have got a Japanese or German luxury car.

  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Apr 25, 2019

    BRING DEREK BACK (I realize he has a regular job now, but TTAC could use him and needs him and peeps like him as clutch hitters wringing out bottom of the 9th, runners on base, game-winning homers like this). I'm seriously considering selling the MB E350 right now (it's actually been a great, problem-free and stress-reducing sled) but am in the terrible predicament of having almost no clue as to what will replace it, despite experiencing MANY new gen vehicles over the last year. Suggestions are welcome for a torsionally stout, bank vault solid/quiet (interior - let all the exterior barking in the right guttural note happen), plush riding, roomy, reliable and powerful replacement that's relatively easy on the eyes - for maybe 30k to 40k used CPO, or 50k to 70k new.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?