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2007 Lincoln MKZ

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San Francisco: Over at Lincoln things need to settle down. Lincoln keeps building fine vehicles that no one seems to care about. 2006 was the last year for the Lincoln LS, a really nice car that few bought. Right now Lincoln has five models; could you name more than one without looking?

The MKZ was originally introduced as the Lincoln Zephyr, a name that resonated with auto buffs but was never explained to the masses. Now we have the MKZ, MKX, and Mark LT. Do these designations ignite your automotive soul? They do nothing for me. But back the subject at hand, the MKZ (Mark Zephyr?)

To be fair Lincoln is not alone in playing the dumb name game. Many automakers seem to be willing to give up time honored names and us alpha, numeric, or alphanumeric "names" in their place.

The big question is will the MKZ get lost in the shuffle? Will Lincoln have the chutzpah to promote it properly?  The MKZ is a nice car but in a sea of nice cars it needs to be seen as special. And make no mistake it is special for Lincoln. Lincoln, like other domestic luxury cars, has a rapidly aging owner base, especially when compared to the European and Japanese competition.  How many twenty, or thirty-something’s do you know that lust for a Lincoln as opposed to an Acura or BMW?

Okay, all that aside here is what makes a MKZ. It is a front-wheel-drive (with AWD optional), 5-person, four-door sedan. It does not claim to be a sport sedan but it is close. Lincoln has tried to marry traditional luxury touches with foreign functionality. And it does work.

Inside is soft leather seating for 5, wood touches, accessory controls that are easy to see and use (and that don't require a computer geek or 10-year old kid to operate). This is the kind of interior a driver can be instantly at ease in.

Under the hood is the same 3.5-liter V6 that is used in the Edge mated to the same 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine produces 263-hp, which is 2 fewer than in the Edge, curious. I would have expected more, not less.  Although the transmission is excellent, and I am not a fan of manual shift automatics, the competition either offers a manual mode or a real manual transmission. Lincoln does neither and really should.

This engine transmission combo does excel at fuel economy. The FWD MKZ is rated at 19-mpg city and 27-mpg highway. The AWD version lowers that to a still respectable 18/26. Considering that this is a 5-person sedan that weighs almost 3,500 lbs. that is excellent economy.

The MKZ is a car that begs to be driven aggressively on back roads. Even Lincoln's own ads say, "throw off your stodgy attitude", and the MKZ comes so close, but it just does not make it. As much as I liked the MKZ I kept comparing it in my mind to so many other cars and it kept coming up short.

The pieces are all there: the aforementioned DOHC V6 (just tune the exhaust so it makes the right noise) and the 6-speed auto trans, plus the P225/50VR17 tires, taut suspension, aggressive stance, and twin pipes. The MKZ starts at $29,235 and AWD will cost you only $1,870 more. 

It just needs that certain something to light a fire in a prospective buyers soul. Ford isn't about to listen to me but the MKZ really only needs a little tweaking. Start with the engine, upping the power to about 300. Then open up the exhaust just a little so there's a nice growl. Give the transmission a manual shift over-ride, and make it like the auto trans that Jag uses, the one that blips the throttle on downshifts.

Add on a set of slightly more aggressive tires with different wheels and there you have it, the new Hot Rod Lincoln. Oh yeah, stop messing around with names. Go back to the Zephyr and build on it.

Ford has a new CEO, Alan Mulally, who came from the aerospace industry.  He used to drive an Acura. Maybe Mr. Mulally will get the Lincoln designers and Ford engineers into some competitor's products so they will realize what they are up against. Keep the Lincoln Town Car for limos and old farts, and build something exciting that kids will lust for when they grow up. By Bruce Hotchkiss © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  The MKZ is a car that begs to be driven
Topic: The 2007 Lincoln MKZ
Word Count:  810
Photo Caption:  The 2007 Lincoln MKZ
Photo Credits:  Lincoln Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 27

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