Reviews

2017 Lincoln MKZ Driving Impressions


The new V6 works better with 400 horsepower than 350, not because of the power but because of its all-wheel drive with the optional Torque Vectoring. With front-wheel-drive and 350 horsepower, it can spin the inside front wheel when accelerating hard out of slow corners; in the wet, that might be an issue. But the 400-horsepower all-wheel-drive with torque vectoring prevented it, making the cornering, especially under acceleration, more secure.

That same Driver’s Package that brought torque vectoring, also continuously controlled damping, the active suspension system that stabilizes the balance of ride and handling. It also has comfort, normal, and sport modes.

The 2.0-liter turbo four accelerates to 60 mph in a leisurely 7.5 seconds, dragging the MKZ’s weight of nearly two tons; its 270 pound-feet of torque and 6-speed automatic transmission are frequently challenged and fully used. During two-lane passing, throttle response is prompt, with nary a hint of turbo lag, so the acceleration is decent. However the engine can sound coarse at full throttle, overpowering the noise cancellation system that otherwise keeps noise down.

The paddle-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission is sharp, but in manual mode it’s necessary to stay in a gear that keeps the revs up, or else the engine lags and acceleration fades. Some cars in this class have 7- or 8-speed transmissions, which help keep the revs up because with tighter gear spacing there’s less of a drop between shifts.

The Hybrid mates its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to lithium-ion batteries and a continuously variable transmission to get its 40 miles per gallon. You can feel more differences, including lighter steering and slower response with the CVT than the automatic; but it’s smooth and quiet, and encourages satisfying efficient driving with smart and engaging displays. However the acceleration is tepid.

Thanks partly to a rigid chassis, the MKZ handles well, competent and sure-footed. It changes direction quickly, especially in Sport mode, with level cornering and good grip for a car this size with all-season tread on the tires. The electric power steering is nicely weighted but a little numb; it’s accurate and quick, from lock to lock just 2.7 turns.

The ride is taut, firm but not harsh in the Sport mode, where we kept it most of the time; we found the other modes too soft. In Sport mode you feel only the big bumps.

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