It’s hard to talk about the 2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve without talking about the recent Lincoln commercials.
You know, the beautifully shot, totally weird spots where Matthew McConaughey shaves, plays cards, waxes poetic, and says, “I’ve been driving a Lincoln since long before anybody paid me to drive one. I didn’t do it to be cool. I didn’t do it to make a statement. I just liked it.”
Seriously, they’re pretty goofy.
But questionable ads aside, Lincoln is an important part of Ford’s history. Founded by Edsel Ford, the division’s first vehicles rivaled — and even exceeded — perpetual luxury standard bearers like Rolls-Royce and Cadillac. Even today, the models build on Ford’s venerable Panther platform have an almost cult-like following, and the cars are renowned for their effortless steering, cushy cabins, and magic carpet-like ride.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about modern Lincolns is that, unlike arch-rival Cadillac, there’s absolutely no sporting pretense to the marque. Today, even Lexus is looking to challenge the Germans, but in our opinion, Lincoln is smart not to compete in that arena, and rather focus on splendid isolation rather than tire-shredding drifts. So while we’re unquestionably disappointed the new Continental won’t have suicide doors — see the iconic 1960s models — we’re genuinely pleased with the direction of Ford’s flagship luxury brand, and we were happy for the opportunity to drive the MKZ.
2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Exterior:
Over the course of our week with the MKZ, there was one thing we heard repeatedly in regards to the exterior sheet metal: “It looks like a Cylon.” For the record, we don’t believe any Lincoln — or any modern vehicle, for that matter — is related to the race of sentient, human-hating robots which serve as the antagonists in the Battlestar Galatica universe. It’s simply not plausible. That said, the resemblance, particularly when the Lincoln is painted in Ignot Silver Metallic, is more than passing.
There’s a decidedly sleek, futurist look to the its lines, particularly at the back, where the tail lamps stretch across the entire rear clip. We particularly liked how the sharp angle at the end of the trunk lid. While it doesn’t jut up, it’s almost like a vestigal spoiler, and contributes to the general vibe that this car was CNCed from a single block of star cruiser hull. It’s a sophisticated look, and it makes the Lincoln stand out anywhere you park it. Up front, we loved the wrap-around, LED accented headlights, and we could see also some hints of modern Jaguars in the intricate chrome grille, which should be taken as high praise.
2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Interior:
While the MKZ might be based on its corporate cousin, the Ford Fusion, to paraphrase the immortal Jeremy Clarkson, humans are 99 percent chimpanzee. So there’s a distinctly upscale feel in comparison. The weather in Seattle during our week with the Lincoln was uncharacteristically cold, and we found the cabin to be a comfortable place indeed, and the high center console — which stretches some generous storage space — contributed to the cocoon-like feeling. The seats, which were clad in a pleasing Terra Cotta leather which contrasted nicely with the gray dashboard and bits of inlaid wood, offered snug support but didn’t pinch us anywhere, and quickly got toasty after we turned on the warmers.
For the first few days, we often reached down to shift into reverse, but we soon got accustomed to using the stacked buttons to the left of the navigation screen to select gears. While it might seem a little precocious initially, the novel transmission interface contributes nicely to the overall elegant feel of the environs. We also found images from the backup camera to be crisp and well-rendered even in low-light conditions. But arguably the coolest interior feature was the panoramic roof, which gave the cabin an almost-landaulet level of openness.
2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Performance:
Even under wide-open throttle, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder on our tester didn’t throw us back into our seats. But its 245 horsepower ensured it had plenty of room to get out of its own way, and we found it more than adequate to battle the Emerald City’s famously clueless drivers. A six-speed traditional automatic — hybrid models get a CVT — is the only transmission choice, and we found the shifts to be smooth and well-timed. The front-biased all-wheel drive system also kept the car steady in slippery corners, and while the cabin was nicely insulated the steering was accurate, and not numb.
Those looking for a little more poke should explore the V-6s, which pump out 350 horsepower in front-wheel drive models, and a quite healthy 400 horsepower in all-wheel drive configuration. While we were comfortable with acceleration of our MKZ, if we were going to sign on the dotted line, we’d be hard pressed to turn down the top-spec model. After all, adding a Focus ST’s worth of power to a solid chassis isn’t exactly going to make the driving experience worse.
2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Safety:
Overall, the Lincoln earned a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA. While the front passenger safety garnered only three-stars, it’s clearly the low mark on an otherwise excellent report card. The car shined during demanding tests like the side-pole and front offset crash test, and the only other less-than-perfect-marks came on the overall front and overall rollover sections. There, it still managed four out of five stars.
2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Overall:
While those seeking a performance sedan won’t find their hair standing on end with the athletic abilities of the 2.0-liter MKZ, as we’ve previously stated, that’s not the experience the Lincoln is aiming to impart here. But for those looking for a vehicle with distinctive styling, a myriad of luxury features, a great stereo system, and a confident, but cushy ride will find lots to love with this car. Adults can ride comfortably in the back seat, and optional features like rear heated seats mean they can be be just as cozy as folks in the front.
Our experience with this lovely, attractive mid-size sedan makes us even more excited to check out the flagship Continental later in the year. Buyers looking to add a posh feel to their daily drives would be well served to stop in at their local AutoNation Lincoln dealer and check out the MKZ for themselves.