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2014 Lincoln MKZ brings premium back to the brand

2014 Lincoln MKZ in Smoke Quartz TriCoat
2014 Lincoln MKZ in Smoke Quartz TriCoat
austinautoboomer by permission

The new 2014 Lincoln MKZ has been completely redesigned and reengineered to bring back the premium to the Lincoln brand – premium style, comfort, convenience and performance with value. Lincoln refers to this program as reinventing the brand. Based on our recent full week ride and drive covering nearly 500 miles in central Texas, we think they have gotten their reinvention pretty close to right. The second generation Lincoln MKZ has stepped up nicely to be a Lincoln and not just another premium mid-size luxury sedan.

Fresh refined styling in the MKZ Lincoln
austinautoboomer by permission

The new 2014 MKZ starts by being very competitively priced with lots of features and value at each trim level. It offers a choice of three power trains (one is a hybrid) with either front-wheel (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) for performance, fuel economy, or both – and it gets even better as you take a closer look.

The 2014 MKZ trim level models include the Premier, Select, Reserve and Preferred with MSRP's ranging from $34,190 to $41,765 (not including delivery) and, for the hybrid, $35,190 to $40,765. All-wheel drive is $1,890 extra and the up-charge to go to the optional engine is $1,230.

Lincoln sent us a nicely equipped 2014 MKZ Reserve trim level AWD for our week long test drive. It was clad in a distinctive Smoke Quartz Metallic Tinted TriCoat with a Light Dune Leather interior accented by rich Prussion Burl Wood trims. The sticker base price for this MKZ was $38,080

Our MKZ was shod with special trim level 19-inch polished aluminum wheels with painted pockets and 245/40R19 98W All-Season tires that provided a nice and smooth ride on the road. Our test MKZ came with the standard 2.0L EcoBoost Turbo power plant. At first look, we thought this Lincoln would perform better if it was powered by the optional 3.7L V6. After we got in and traveled a very few miles, we knew there was no need to have been concerned – this 2.0L EcoBoost engine did just fine.

This MKZ was loaded up with a range of premium standard items like Heated Power Mirrors with Approach Lamps, Adaptive LED Headlamps and LED Tail lamps, Daytime Running Lights, Heated and Ventilated Front Bucket Seating with 10-Way Power Adjustments both driver and passenger, Remote Keyless Entry plus Keypad, Intelligent Access with Push Button and Remote Start, Ambient Lighting, Electronic Parking Brake, Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control, Hill Start Assist, Traction Control and SiriusXM Satellite Radio using an 8-inch Color Touch Display in the center stack and featuring Sync with MyLincoln Touch.

We would note here, before talking about the excellent selection of packages and options on our test MKZ, Lincoln’s innovative use of the push button shift system for the automatic transmission frees up all kinds of space in and under the console between the bucket seats. Two, not one, nicely sized shelf trays were able to be located below between the driver and passenger – complete with nice lip edges to hold materials or devices secure. In fact, there was so much storage all around the cockpit area, that my partner (who shall remain nameless) often could not locate where she had put her smart phone each time we took a ride. Yes, there is a designated slot for a smart phone, but someone else’s phone was usually already using it.

Major packages included on our test MKZ were the Preferred Equipment Group for $5,375 which added Rear View Camera, Reverse Sensors, Blindside Warning with Cross Traffic Alert, Navigation and variable temperature Heated Seats in the rear. It also included the THX II Certified 700-watt Audio System powered by a 14-channel amplifier sending through 14 speakers around the cabin.

A Technology Package for $2,250 included Active Park Assist, Lane Keeping System and Adaptive Cruise Control. The Panoramic Sun Roof for $2,995 was a very nice addition adding lots of light (measures 15.2 square feet) when open but properly shaded when closed. In Texas, along with many other hot climates, a properly shaded and insulated sun roof is essential.

After adding a couple of accessory items, our test 2014 Lincoln MKZ AWD (with delivery) was just $50,285.

The 2014 Lincoln MKZ is a good road driver’s sedan that handles quickly and responsively at all speeds and in all driving situations. The Lincoln Drive Control manages the performance of its Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension in concert with the Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) and Active Noise Control (ANC) that – with the AWD using its Torque Vectoring Control to firmly grip the road on all corners – uses 12 sensors to continuously read the road and adjust the shock absorbers to maximize ride control and comfort while minimizing road noise.

The MKZ has a generous passenger cabin suitable for five adults (96.5 cubic feet of room) with legroom over 44-inches in the front row and 37-inches in the rear. The trunk space is also generous with a very usable rectangular configuration and 15.4 cubic feet that would – on observation – hold at least three and maybe four full golf bags.

The standard power train for the MKZ is the 2.0L EcoBoost turbocharged I4 kicking out 240 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque. A hybrid version of the MKZ uses a 2.0L iVCT Atkinson-cycle I4 engine with 188 total system horsepower and 129 lb.ft. of torque. The optional power plant for all trim levels is the 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 producing 300 horsepower with 277 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.0L EcoBoost and 3.7L engines are mated to the proven 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with Lincoln’s innovative push-button shift buttons on the center stack. It is also equipped with paddle shifters for a sportier drive experience when in Sport Drive Mode. The hybrid uses an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT).

Fuel economy for the new Lincoln MKZ is very acceptable across all of the power trains. The 2.0L EcoBoost is rated at 22/33 mpg City/Highway and 26 mpg combined, the 3.7L at 19/28 mpg City/Highway and 22 mpg combined with the hybrid at 38 mpg combined. All ratings are for the FWD versions. The AWD ratings are about 1 mpg less with no AWD available in the hybrid.

Driving our 2014 MKZ nearly 500 miles both highway and city during the week, we experienced a very credible 25.7 mpg combined for the week. And, yes, for those who know my propensity to use Sport mode a lot, about 200 miles of that travel was in the more responsive Sport Mode.

Others in the industry are confirming our assessment of the new 2014 Lincoln MKZ. Most recently USAA, a leading financial services provider to the U.S. military community and families, named the 2014 Lincoln MKZ to its fourth-annual Best Value vehicles list in the Mid-size Luxury category. USAA cited its fuel economy, affordability and safety as key elements in their decision. The safety recognition by USAA was in response to the MKZ being awarded the Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – significant in the face of the new and stricter crash requirements of their testing.

Customers are responding favorably too – according to AutoPacific – who has named it the Top Premium Brand in its segment based on their most recent survey which measures customer satisfaction among new vehicle owners.

If you are considering moving up to a premium mid-size luxury sedan, you need to take a serious look at the new 2014 Lincoln MKZ – especially the MKZ Reserve or Preferred trim levels that, with just a couple of packages or options, will give you a very complete and very premium mid-size luxury sedan that will not break the bank when you buy it – or later, as you drive it.