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#16

in 2012 Upscale Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $19,014 - $20,928
Original MSRP: $34,755 - $36,645
MPG: 18 City / 27 Hwy
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2012 Lincoln MKZ Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Though the 2012 Lincoln MKZ provides a quiet, comfortable ride, its performance won’t blow your doors off. The MKZ has a quiet cabin at high speed and remains a competent highway cruiser, but it wasn't designed to rival sport sedans like the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4.

  • "It's not the boulevardier you might expect from Lincoln. Good steering, decent power, the MKZ is pleasant enough to pilot, but everything from Audi, BMW, Cadillac, and Infiniti is better to drive." -- Car and Driver
  • "These sedans are not as composed overall as the class-leading Lexus ES, though they are close. MKZ does not absorb small pavement imperfections quite as well as a comfort-oriented premium car should. That said, this Lincoln exhibits little float or wallow, while demonstrating good body control over larger ruts." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It can't hold a candle to the driving experience of the Cadillac CTS." -- Automobile Magazine

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Lincoln MKZ is offered with only one engine: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 263 horsepower. It offers more than enough power for most everyday situations, but it doesn’t give the MKZ any sporting credentials. Reviewers say that compared with many similarly-priced sedans, it’s on the slower side, though most commuters would have no complaints. The base MKZ is front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is an available option. A six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode is standard, which reviewers like.

According to the EPA, the front-wheel drive MKZ gets 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel drive models get 17/25 mpg city/highway fuel economy.

If you’re looking for a more fuel-efficient option, check out the Lincoln MKZ hybrid, which we review separately.

  • "The AWD Base has ample power for most any situation. Kudos to Lincoln for finally making a manual shift gate standard. It does help prevent the transmission from occasionally hunting for the right gear when driving on hilly roads." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The V6 offers decent acceleration, though the exhaust note lacks the throaty growl of some of its competitors." -- Edmunds
  • "It's not as silky, unworldly quiet as the Lexus V-6, but it's pretty good." -- Automobile Magazine
  • “We were happy with the addition of SelectShift, which is now standard on the six-speed automatic. … The MKZ has one of the best versions he has had the pleasure of using." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

The MKZ’s front-wheel drive setup means it will never match the performance of sportier, rear-wheel drive rivals. However, that’s not the MKZ’s goal. It’s tuned to be a comfortable cruiser like the Lexus ES or Buick LaCrosse. Reviewers say it performs that role well, with a smooth ride that isolates the driver from the road. The available AWD improves wet-weather grip but doesn’t make the MKZ a performance car by any means.

One reviewer says that adding the optional Sport Appearance Package makes the MKZ much more fun to drive. However, there is a trade-off. While the package’s larger wheels and sport-tuned suspension improve the MKZ’s handling, it also sacrifices the base MKZ’s smooth, comfortable ride.

  • "Competent overall, with fairly accurate steering and moderate body lean." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Add the sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels that come with the available Sport Appearance package (not available on the Hybrid), however, and things get a bit more interesting. In fact, the MKZ becomes downright fun to drive. The trade-off to this firmer suspension setup, of course, is a rough ride that doesn't feel particularly Lincoln-esque." -- Edmunds
  • “The non-sport is Lexus-smooth, yet still feels good in the curves. The sport version, which has firmer suspension settings and lower-profile tires, feels noticeably tighter." -- About.com
  • “The low steering effort felt appropriate at low speeds and while cruising on the freeway, but it was devoid of any feedback while driving with the least bit of enthusiasm." -- Autoblog
  • “There's still no disguising the fact that the MKZ is a warmed-over version of the Zephyr, which was itself a warmed-over version of a Mazda 6 chassis. These are not exactly the bones of a pedigreed entry-luxury sedan." -- Automobile Magazine

Next Steps: 2012 Lincoln MKZ

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