Capsule Review: 2013 Lincoln MKZ

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
We’re committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using links in our articles. Learn more here
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. My mom ended up buying a Lexus.”

Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad anymore.

Forty seven thousand six hundred and sixty-five dollars. Take a second to visualize that. For most Americans, that is a lot of money. Quite possible their salary for the year. Maybe even a nice starter home on a rural route in an economically hard-hit part of the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

More by Derek Kreindler

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.

  • 285exp If the conversion to EVs was really so vital to solve an existential climate change crisis, it wouldn’t matter whether they were built by US union workers or where the batteries and battery materials came from.
  • El scotto Another EBPosky, "EVs are Stoopid, prove to me water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius" article.It was never explained if the rural schools own the buses or if the school bus routes are contracted out. If the bus routes are contracted out, will Carpenter or Bluebird offer an electric school bus? Flexmatt never stated the range of brand-unspecified school bus. Will the min-mart be open at the end of the 179-mile drive? No cell coverage? Why doesn't the bus driver have an emergency sat phone?Two more problems Mr. Musk could solve.
  • RICK Long time Cadillac admirer with 89 Fleetwood Brougham deElegance and 93 Brougham, always liked Eldorado until downsized after 76. Those were the days. Sad to see what now wears Cadillac name.
  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.