San Francisco: This
affordable luxury sedan, the Zephyr, is helping Lincoln shed its stodgy
image as a brand for limousine companies and AARP members. It's been a
long time since Lincoln has made a great car.
Oh, sure, there have
been lots of recent Lincolns that have been great in some respects -
great for the money, great for an American car, great for Grandpa - but
an all-around great car that makes your jaw drop? That simply hasn't
happened, until now. It really is an impressive ride
Lincoln introduced a
new car for 2006 that isn't just something you'd settle for if you can't
afford a Lexus. Called the Zephyr, it's an affordable luxury car that
drives as good or better than everything else in its class, and it's
proving that the urban coolness of Lincoln's SUVs is slowly trickling
down to the brand's sedans.
For starters, the body
looks fantastic. It's a clean, classic, elegant design that doesn't
distract your eye with tacky body cladding or unnecessary trim. Taut
lines draw your attention to a bold chrome grill with Lincoln's
traditional "waterfall" look up front, while an uncluttered back end has
big, wraparound taillights and a bumper that's nearly flush with the
trunk. The overall look is sexy, classy and unpretentious.
Inside, you'll find the
same attention to detail that makes the body stunning. Rich wood trim -
including an optional light maple that looks like it belongs on an
expensive piece of Scandinavian furniture - lines the doors and dash,
while tasteful bits of chrome give it a sporty, European look.
Construction feels nearly as tight and precise as a high-end Lexus, and
firm seats give you a good feel of the road.
You'll also find lots
of gadgets inside, including a 10-speaker stereo with six-disc CD
changer, 10-way power front seats with heat, and dual-zone climate
control. Options include an audiophile sound system ($995), touch-screen
navigation system ($2,495), power sunroof ($1,200) and cooled front
seats ($495). I found the cooled front seats especially nice in warm
As you start to drive
the Zephyr, one of the first things you notice is how solid the car
feels. It's like the entire car was carved from a solid block of
granite, with hardly a hint of shakes or rattles when you hit bumps.
Tell the car to turn, and it responds instantly and gracefully.
A 3.0-liter V6 engine
is buttery smooth while making 221 horsepower, enough to make it fun on
country roads while still getting 28 miles per gallon on the highway.
Although the Zephyr is
based on the same platform as the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan - both
cars that I've driven and fallen in love with - the Zephyr's driving
feel is slightly softer in comparison. It's tuned more for comfort than
for sportiness, but it definitely doesn't feel boat-like.
Best of all, the
Zephyr's price of $28,995 is a steal considering the car's high quality
and impressive driving feel. It compares favorably with luxury cars that
cost thousands more, which is perfect for bargain hunters, but true
penny pinchers will want to cross-shop the Mercury and Ford versions of
this car to see if they could live without the Zephyr's upscale look and
sumptuous interior. All three flavors of this car – the Fusion, Milan
and Zephyr - are amazing vehicles for the money.
If the Zephyr has a
downside, it's that there's no high-performance version available. The
chassis feels so solid and the suspension so great that it's a shame
Lincoln doesn't offer a sportier version with a big V8 engine and firmer
suspension, much as Cadillac does with the CTS-V.
It's also interesting
to note, sadly, that Lincoln plans to drop the historic Zephyr name in
2007 and replace it with the dull MKZ. Personally, I'd rather buy the
2006 model just to get the cooler name.
Regardless, the Zephyr
goes a long way toward shedding Lincoln's image as a brand for old folks
and limousine companies. It's definitely a world-class Lincoln.
tested? The 2006 Lincoln Zephyr with a base
price of $28,995. Options: DVD navigation system ($2,495) cooled front
seats ($495) Xenon HID headlights ($495). Price as tested including
Why buy it?
It's an incredible luxury car at a low price. Great handling, sexy
looks, a strong engine and sumptuous interior make it a wonderful
all-around car. By
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
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2006 Lincoln Zephyr
Column Name: Zephyr impresses for price, quality and driving feel
Topic: The 2006 Lincoln
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Photo Caption: The 2006
Photo Credits: Lincoln Internet Media
Series #: 2006 - 43
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2006 Lincoln Zephyr