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ROAD & TRAVEL New Car Review: 2007 Lincoln Line-Up

Three fresh models for 2007 put Lincoln in the limelight

by Jeff Voth

It is a strange tale from the annals of automotive history that the genesis of Lincoln Vehicles took root in the storied past of its main American rival. Henry M. Leyland, the founder of Lincoln, was also the creator and technical wizard behind Cadillac, a company he started in 1902.

The automotive legacy of Mr. Leyland actually begins in the late 1800’s, but really starts to hit top speed in early 1901. Parting ways with Ransom Olds, (Oldsmobile) due to a refusal by the company to employ his newly invented 10.25 horsepower engine; Henry packs up and decides to strike out on his own. The result is the luxury car company we know today as Cadillac.

In the years that follow, Cadillac becomes part of the General Motors Company and by the end of the World War I, Mr. Leyland once again finds himself at odds with ownership. So at the ripe old age of 76, he decides to start a new luxury car company named after his Civil War idol, President Abraham Lincoln.

Unfortunately for Mr. Leyland, the Great Depression hits soon after the war and not many people have the resources to buy luxury automobiles. Bankrupt, Lincoln is put up for auction and purchased by Henry Ford for the reasonable sum of 8 million dollars. Over the years that follow, Lincoln becomes the benchmark for Ford design and style under the watchful eye of Henry’s son, Edsel Ford.

Still considered by many to be a symbol of American luxury and grand design, Lincoln introduces three new vehicles for 2007 they hope will capture the imagination of today’s car buyer and breathe new life into one of the great nameplates in automobile history.

ROAD & TRAVEL New Car Review: 2007 Lincoln MKZ

2007 Lincoln MKZ
Don’t be confused if this vehicle looks somewhat familiar. Introduced in 2006 as the Lincoln Zephyr, a name change sees this luxury mid-sized sedan now referred to as the MKZ. While at first glance you may question Lincoln’s rationale for doing this, it does represent a significant change in several ways.

First, the name MKZ follows Lincoln 's new alphanumeric naming system. Second and most importantly, the 2007 sedan receives a significant upgrade in performance, as well as an optional AWD system and a new signature Lincoln grille.

Ford’s all-new Duratec 35 V6 engine replaces the previous 3.0L V6 powerplant found in the 2006 Lincoln Zephyr. Performance is improved by approximately 10 percent to 263 hp at 6,250 rpm while torque also improves to 249 lb-ft. at 4,500 rpm.

New for 2007 is Lincoln’s optional Intelligent AWD. Possessing the ability to transfer torque to the wheel or wheels with the best traction, this system does a superb job of increasing control while working completely behind the scenes.

Driving through North Carolina's backcountry roads where the new vehicles were showcased, I was impressed by the responsiveness of the MKZ as it attacked corners with controlled proficiency.

Inside, Lincoln continues to improve on the overall look and feel of their cars with each new model year. Satin nickel metal finish surfaces with your choice of either faux maple or ebony wood, tie-in nicely with chrome accented vent openings and gauges. Seats are comfortable enough for even long trips and doors close with a solid thunk usually reserved for luxury cars from Europe and Asia.

As a mid-size sedan, the 2007 MKZ offers excellent ergonomics and comfort for five passengers, with good trunk space and a superb sound system to improve the overall driving experience. All in all, it represents a solid contender when compared to other vehicles in this segment.

ROAD & TRAVEL New Car Review: 2007 Lincoln MKX

2007 Lincoln MKX
The term Crossover Vehicle is the current catch phrase used to describe a utility type vehicle with sedan-like characteristics for those consumers who need the versatility of a minivan, but would never drive one. The MKX is Lincoln’s entry into this market.

Based on the same platform as the new Ford Edge and Mazda CX-7, the Lincoln MKX goes further down the road in the luxury department. Essentially replacing the Aviator in the line-up, it offers first-class accoutrements and a powerful 3.5L DOHC V6 that delivers 265 hp mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Driving the MKX is in many ways like driving a luxury sedan. While you sit higher in the vehicle given its crossover nature, it handles corners in a similar manner to the aforementioned MKZ and feels in control even when the road turns twisty. A four-link independent rear suspension features outboard mounted shocks for enhanced ride and handling.

Like the MKZ, intelligent AWD is available. Four-wheel ABS is standard, as is AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and a Safety Canopy system. The 2007 Lincoln MKX is built on a solid unibody platform.

Inside, it offers a panoramic view of the sky above with a first ever Vista Roof option. Seating for up to five defines the interior. Options include DVD entertainment with a new 8-inch screen as well as an outstanding THX II-Certified surround-sound stereo system with 14 speakers.

The crossover segment of the market is particularly hot at the moment and the luxurious 2007 Lincoln MKX should prove to be a significant player. Built in the Oakville, Ontario, Canada plant, it is available at dealerships now.

ROAD & TRAVEL New Car Review: 2007 Lincoln Navigator

2007 Lincoln Navigator
You may not be aware of this fact, but the Lincoln Navigator is the original full-size SUV in the market. As such, the new 2007 Navigator seeks to up the ante by presenting a completely new, luxury sport uitility vehicle that it hopes buyers will prefer over its main rival the all-new 2007 Cadillac Escalade.

Available in two models, Navigator and Navigator L, Lincoln does an excellent job of providing a driving experience that is surprisingly car-like in several significant ways.

Laugh if you will, but having driven the new Navigator at speed on the famed Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, I was amazed how it handled tight corners and steep hills with a significant amount of athletic aplomb.

Longer and more expansive inside, the new Navigator L takes "big" to even greater lengths. Increasing interior cargo volume by 25 cubic feet and exterior length by a whopping 14.7 inches, the available Navigator L sets the standard for other large SUV's.

Under the hood resides a 5.4L, Triton V8 that delivers 300 hp and 365 lb.-ft of torque. Deceptively quiet for the most part, I only noticed a significant increase in engine noise when pressing firmly on the gas pedal to pass a slow moving transport truck. In a surprising move to be more cost friendly, the new 2007 Lincoln Navigator runs on regular unleaded gasoline.

Inside, the Navigator bathes the interior cabin with butter-soft leather, Dark Ebony or Anigre wood and chrome accents. A standard 10-way power driver’s seat, heated and cooled front seats and a 600-watt THX II-Certified audio system make for pleasurable driving no matter how long the journey.

Storage space is excessive, especially in the Navigator L and the power folding rear seat plus 40/20/40 split second row and 60/40 third row only add to the usability of this most luxurious SUV.

It remains to be seen how well the large SUV market will perform as gas prices continue to rise and smaller vehicles start to impact the market once again. But there will always be those buyers who like to drive big vehicles. For anyone considering such a vehicle as their everyday driver, the new Navigator should make the A-list.

Polishing up the chrome with a new lineup for 2007, the luster is back at Lincoln. Time will tell if Mr. Leyland’s dream of building unique vehicles will continue into the 21st Century, but if the new Lincoln products perform over the long haul as well as they look today, the future seems bright for many years to come.