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2007 Lincoln MKZ

by Martha Hindes

Lincoln MKZ
Lincoln MKZ Interior

If Lincoln surprised some folks with its popular Zephyr a year ago, it was no surprise to company officials. The vehicle was designed to garner import intenders among luxury-minded auto buyers, and it has. With that, plus lots of applause behind it, Lincoln moves up another beat. Enter the MKZ, Lincoln's Zephy-based mid-size five-seater luxury sedan for '07.

A prime change is the more powerful, new Duratec 35 engine. The 3.5-liter V-6, mated to a fuel efficient six-speed automatic trans, churns out a welcome, and gutsier, 250-horsepower for a more authoritative drive. Outside, Lincoln's signature waterfall grille has been refined, and beltline bright work and trim, plus sporty dual chrome-tipped tailpipes enhance the look. New 17-inch, eight-spoke chromed or machined aluminum wheels with low-profile tires add punch.

Lincoln hasn't stinted on providing a tactile, luxury feel and look inside, choosing real wood in dark ebony and figured maple among colors, plus high quality leather and real chromed or satin nickel trim. No faux here. DVD-based nav has text-to-speech technology. Screen and controls are set lower in the center stack for easy reach and better visibility in bright sunlight. It is mated to theater-like surround sound THX II-certified audio with 14 speakers, six-disc CD/MP3 and built-in Sirius satellite radio connection. The midsize dimensions allow greater rear legroom and largest-in-class trunk with compact-hinged lid, a low lift edge and spring assist 60/40 split rear seats.

MKZ rides on a fully independent suspension for supple handling and comfort. A quick spin around Ford's Michigan test track proved both. Available intelligent all-wheel-drive replaces standard front-drive for more road handling agility. Among safety items is a standard "roll-fold" side curtain system for front and rear passengers that Lincoln calls a midsize segment first. In an accident, the system is designed to stay inflated in place even if the person is out of position.

With a handfull of options and a bunch of standard items such as puddle lamps, leather seating and HomeLink, expect base prices for the "value priced" MKZ to start in the mid-$30,000 range, when announced around mid-September. The MKZ's new, improved six-speed automatic could provide fuel economy in the 20/28 MPG range when rated, despite more engine power.