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Lincoln Zephyr

2006 Lincoln Zephr Review

by Martha Hindes

Lincoln Zephyr
Lincoln Zephyr Interior

Zephyr. According to dictionaries, it's an ethereal sounding name for a breath of fresh air, a sort of younger than springtime attitude. For Lincoln, the luxury marque of Ford Motor Co., it's a breath of fresh inspiration in the company's rather settled American-side luxury product lineup that needed some aspirational boost. Zephyr also is a time-honored name in company history, and Lincoln hopes to recapture some of the panache of its classic Lincoln Zephyrs from years ago with a brand new entry lux Zephyr sedan debuting for 2006. Luxury vehicles have been on the march as of late, and Lincoln estimates some 300,000 buyers a year turn from standard American fare to some level of premium. That leaves a lot of breathing room for Zephyr.

Lincoln held the car in abeyance of early test drives, so we'll have to take dealers' word that it's a true driver's car with low mileage to boot. Too bad. Stay tuned, however, for RTM's full test drive review on the Zephyr in 2006.

A lap behind the wheel gives a lot of insight. We can, however, report on the guts under the glam that make this baby run. It prances out of the stable on 221 powerful horses from a 3.0-liter V-6. It just oozes pampered comfort and style from heated and cooled seats, "segment exclusive" six-speed automatic (just developed by Ford), "industry-first" 600-watt THX II-certified audio system with surround sound, an all-new DVD-based nav system, leather seating, wood and satin nickel trim, a ton of electronic gadgets, and -- believe it -- "more" trunk room than any segment competitor.

As Lincoln's entry point in the luxury auto market, Zephyr has a big task to fulfill. Despite a dandy, higher-end LS that we really liked but that failed to ignite volumes of buyers, Lincoln has lacked a trendy, performance-oriented entry lux vehicle to excite the crowded field of successful Gen Xers moving up in the world. Zephyr squeaks in just under the $30 K threshold, making it a base-price bargain, but more premium-priced with the half-dozen available options added. Its simpler, classic design also is aimed at American and foreign brand names with equal urgency.

To make sure that prospective targets get the message, Zephyr pairs with such staples as House of Blues and American Airlnes (very domestic) and adds a heavy dose of internet access for promos. If you want a real stretch of its freshly-launched "Reach Higher" motto, think of Webster's "West wind" description of Zephyr. It could be synonymous with a claim of dominance by this Western-based auto over more Easterly invaders.