Lincoln MKZ Performance
Test drivers express mixed feelings about the 2008 Lincoln MKZ's performance. They praise its responsiveness, new peppy V6 engine, and comfortable smoothness but criticize the lagging power and sometimes disappointing steering. Of the driving experience, Road and Track says, "Acceleration is brisk, torque is ample, and the driving pleasure quotient is reasonably high."
Autobytel brings up a counterpoint about the driving experience, commenting "The MKZ has good power, but isn't really happy when pushed hard. The all-wheel-drive model has a firm grip on the pavement but the steering is pretty doughy and the suspension seems to react just slightly after you make an input, instead of delivering that immediate connectivity you find in a BMW or even a Cadillac." A major plus is the engine's relatively efficient fuel consumption, especially impressive for its V6 engine, and the fact that it doesn't need premium fuel.
Acceleration and Power
The 2008 Lincoln MKZ comes with either a 3.5-liter 4V Duratec V6 engine. It makes 263 horsepower, 42 more than the 2006 Zephyr's 3.0-liter V6, and develops more torque (249 pound-feet). Motor Trend praises, "The engine sounds and feels good, and while not as polished as Toyota/Lexus or Honda V6s of the same size, it's class competitive." In fact, Ward's AutoWorld named the V6 a "Best Engine" in its January 2007 issue, and it's one of the most powerful standard engines in its class.
According to the EPA, fuel economy is estimated at 18 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway for the front-wheel-drive MKZ, and 17 /24 for the all-wheel-drive model. Automobile.com points out that "To those not up on techno-gab, all the aforementioned engine parts add up to what is expected to be relatively efficient fuel consumption." In fact, the V6 engine is expected to reduce fuel consumption by about 7 percent. Another plus is that it takes 87 octane, rather than expensive premium fuel.
Acceleration isn't shabby, either. While the previous Zephyr ran from 0 to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, the MKZ does so at a quicker 6.8 seconds. "It doesn't turn the 3,540-pound, all-wheel-drive MKZ (about 130 pounds more than the front-wheel-drive model) into a rocket," comments New Car Test Drive, "but acceleration is more than acceptable for any reasonable task, including a quick merge onto a busy interstate, and it's satisfying just to feel the rush of power."
A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available. It lacks a manual shift mode, a disappointment to almost all reviewers. But regardless, the transmission "upshifts smoothly and always has the right gear waiting for a driver command, such as for a passing maneuver," says MSN. Another group of reviewers isn't so pleased. BusinessWeek complains, "The six-speed automatic doesn't seem very eager to play. It has fairly languid upshifts designed for softness rather than sport feel, and won't hold lower gears when powering through turns."
Though it may not have a manual-mode transmission, the MKZ does offer an O/D (overdrive) off button to lock out high gear and put the transmission in "hill mode" -- a feature meant to hold lower gears longer so the transmission is more likely to downshift. But Autobytel remains disappointed, saying, "Still, we repeatedly caught the MKZ's tranny in too high a gear during our mountain drive, letting the engine loaf."
Handling and Braking
Reviewers have good things to say about the MKZ's handling, with just a few complaints about steering feel. Kelley Blue Book refers to the rack-and-pinion steering system as "precise, with good on-center feel, and transmits little vibration back to the steering wheel due to its mounting on the isolated front subframe." But despite the majority's good feedback, some feel steering could be improved. "The rack-and-pinion steering is quick," says MSN, "but my test car's steering had a slightly rubbery feel, perhaps because it was equipped with all-wheel drive." Another complaint among many reviewers is the MKZ's unusually large turning radius -- which, at 40 feet, may mean "you'll be backing and forthing a lot in tight parking spots," says USA Today.
The MKZ's four-wheel independent suspension "does a reasonably good job of shielding its occupants from broken pavement and poorly repaired potholes," according to New Car Test Drive. "But the engineers were clever enough to combine that ride with handling that is both reassuring and satisfying." Motor Trend also has good things to say, commenting, "Where the old car felt soft and uninspiring, this feels more energetic and better pinned down, with improved grip front and rear." Contributing to the 2008 model's smoother ride are stiffer springs and dampers than were offered in the Lincoln Zephyr, and thicker anti-sway bars for sharp handling and flat cornering.
The majority of reviewers feel the Lincoln MKZ's stopping power is adequate. New Car Test Drive notes, "The brake pedal has a nice, progressive feel, and the brakes deliver more stopping power than the typical driver will ever use short of an emergency situation." However, a few reviewers find the brakes a bit disappointing. "The brake pedal is a little soft, but has a linear action and stopping power is good," says MSN. And USA Today complains, "Brakes could use some hurry-up mojo. Languid stopping isn't what you want in a car that's so happy to prowl."
A particularly useful feature of the 2008 MKZ is the optional Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, an option that the MKZ's main competitors don't offer. The system senses when possible tire slippage may occur and delivers the amount of power to the wheels needed to get the most traction. Road and Travel Magazine says, "This system does a superb job of increasing control while working completely behind the scenes." But Edmunds finds the system less useful: "Even equipped with the new all-wheel-drive system … the MKZ is essentially a front-drive car. But the all-wheel-drive system can transfer torque to the rear even before the front wheels slip. For example, when the driver floors the throttle, the system will transfer power rearward in anticipation of slip."