Manufactured by parent company Ford, the Lincoln MKZ was a four-door, five-passenger midsize luxury sedan, available in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
It competed against models like the Lexus ES, Volvo S60, Acura TLX and Buick LaCrosse and was largely based on the Ford Fusion sedan.
Lincoln initially launched the model in 2005 as the Zephyr; the MKZ name was adopted for the 2007 model year as the Lincoln brand changed its naming scheme for all models.
The Lincoln MKZ was discontinued after the 2020 model year, at the end of the second generation.
2013 - Present Lincoln MKZ (2nd Generation)
The MKZ was completely redesigned for the 2013 model year. It continued to use the Ford Fusion's platform for its underpinnings.
A few modifications achieved improved aerodynamics to the car’s profile, and interior options included full-covered leather seats, wood and metal trim, a lane-keeping assistance system, and a retractable panoramic roof.
Three powertrains were initially offered in the MKZ. The base was a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that made 240 horsepower. A 300-horsepower V6 powertrain or a 141-horsepower hybrid four-cylinder powertrain were optional. The two non-hybrid models used a six-speed automatic transmission. As with the first generation MKZ, the hybrid version of this sedan was the same price as the base gas engine, a departure from what most of its competitors did.
In 2015 automatic headlights, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera became standard equipment.
Instead of a traditional transmission selector installed in the center console region, changing gears in this version is accomplished by pushing buttons in an array located to the left of the infotainment screen. There is a selection labeled “S” for sport mode, which alters the functioning of the suspension, steering and transmission.
Lincoln gave the MKZ a substantial update for the 2017 model year. A new grille with larger headlights and integrated daytime running lights tops the list of changes for this generation. The changes brought the MKZ in line with the latest design scheme for the Lincoln brand.
Trim levels include the base model as well as Premiere, Select, Reserve, and Black Label with three appearance packages dubbed the Vineyard, Chalet, and Thoroughbred.
The V6 engine was dropped in favor of a new 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 that makes either 350 or 400 horsepower, depending on the powertrain. The base four-cylinder and the hybrid powertrains carried over.
2006 - 2012 Lincoln MKZ (1st Generation)
Lincoln initially launched this model with the name Zephyr, which lasted only for a year. The sedan replaced the Lincoln LS in the brand's sedan lineup.
The model was launched with a single powertrain: a 221-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission. Once the LS was retired at the end of 2006 and because Lincoln was renaming all of its models, the Zephyr became the MKZ for the 2007 model year.
The sedan's styling was also tweaked at this time; Lincoln’s “waterfall” grille was flanked by jeweled quad projector beam headlights with HID headlights available as an option. LED taillights and chromed dual exhaust tips, as well as chrome trim, round out the standard features along with painted aluminum rims and an option for chromed rims.
Interior features included real wood ebony or maple inserts in metallic frames, chrome accents, and a chrome-enhanced instrument panel. Standard amenities included a tilt and telescoping, leather-wrapped steering wheel with real wood grips, leather seats, LED backlighting for the controls, power windows and door locks, automatic headlights and fog lamps, power-adjustable heated mirrors, remote keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a universal garage door opener and four-wheel antilock disc brakes with traction control.
Options included a power moonroof, heated and cooled front seats, a DVD-based satellite nav system and safety features like dual front-side airbags and curtain airbags extending from the front to rear seating.
Under the MKZ name, the sedan received a new engine: a 265-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, paired with 6-speed automatic transmission and all- or front-wheel drive. 2008 saw the addition of Sirius satellite radio and a tire-pressure monitoring system as well as perforated leather seats and Lincoln SYNC as standard features.
Lincoln updated this first-gen MKZ for the 2010 model year. Wraparound headlights and new taillights offset a new fascia with split-wing grille and revised hood. Interior changes include a reverse camera system, voice-controlled DVD-based navigation, rain-sensing windshield wipers and adaptive HID headlights. The suspension was revised too, and an 18-inch wheel option was offered. The V6 engine carried over but Lincoln added a new Hybrid model which used the same hybrid powertrain as the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan.
This version had a 191-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. It was front-wheel drive and used a continuously variable transmission. It got an EPA-estimated rating of 41 mpg and 36 mpg on the highway. An EV mode enabled the car to go up to 47 mph for short distances on electric power alone, and options included a sunroof, blind spot monitors, backup camera and navigation system.
This hybrid variant was notable for being the same price as its gas counterpart; many of the Lincoln's competitors charged more for their hybrid models.