New for 2015
The Lincoln MKZ remains largely unchanged for 2015, but adds 3G connectivity to the MyLincoln Mobile App and four new exterior color options: Luxe, Magnetic, Bronze Fire, and Guard.
The Lincoln MKZ is a midsize luxury sedan that offers a range of capable engines, and a no-cost upgrade to a hybrid powertrain. The MKZ fits below the MKS as the smallest sedan available in the Lincoln lineup.
The 2015 Lincoln MKZ shares its basic chassis and two powertrains with the Ford Fusion, such as a turbo I-4 and a four-cylinder hybrid system, but the Lincoln distinguishes itself with a 300-hp V-6, unique styling, and more premium suspension tuning. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 that produces 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, which can pair its six-speed automatic with standard front-wheel drive or an optional all-wheel-drive system. EPA-estimated fuel efficiency is 22 mpg in the city for either driveline, but 33 mpg on the highway for FWD and 31 mpg for AWD. Available at the same price is a 2.0-liter I-4 Atkinson-cycle engine paired with an AC electric motor that produces a net 188 hp and is paired with a CVT that drives the front wheels for an EPA-estimated 41/39 mpg and the ability to accelerate up to 85 mph on electricity alone. The available upgrade engine is a 300-hp 3.7-liter V-6 that produces 277 lb-ft of torque, which pairs a six-speed automatic with FWD or AWD. The most powerful powerplant takes a penalty for the displacement in the fuel economy department, netting 18 mpg city and 26-27 mpg highway in EPA tests.
The 2015 Lincoln MKZ distances itself from its Fusion roots not just with its styling, but also with available premium features. Technology kept from the Fusion include features such as an eight-inch infotainment screen (the largest optional screen is standard on the Lincoln), inflatable outboard rear seatbelts (the belts spread the impact forces across a larger area, reducing the risk of head/neck motion injuries), and the driving aids (adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, park assist, and a blind spot warning with cross traffic alert). Inside the Lincoln, a push-button transmission (with buttons on the left side of the dash) replaces the traditional mechanical shift lever, opening up the center console. Active noise control helps to quiet down the ride, while an available retractable panoramic roof (15.2 square feet of glass!) opens up the feel of the cabin. Lincoln has also added a Drive Control system that alters the suspension damping, steering effort, and shift points; we found Comfort and Sport to be the best settings (neither too detached nor too harsh), but found Normal combined the worst of both extremes with a “floaty ride” and a suspension crash over road imperfections.
The 2015 Lincoln MKZ received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), and is considered a 2015 Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.
What We Think
The 2015 Lincoln MKZ is a strikingly designed midsize luxury sedan that sets its sights squarely on the Lexus ES, a bestseller of the Lexus lineup. In a Driven Review of a 2013 Lincoln MKZ 3.7 AWD we noted, “The slim LED lighting fixtures create a crisp, striking – and instantly recognizable – visual signature … When you’re behind the steering wheel, the high seating position and that giant transparent roof help make the interior seem light and spacious, plus the driver’s sightlines are unobstructed.” Inside the MKZ we pointed out the downside to the attractively sloping roof, “The window sills are indeed a little high, but the effect is nothing like a Chrysler 300. At the same time, rear seat passengers might feel claustrophobic, since the MKZ’s dramatic roofline allows rear headroom of only 36.5 inches.” In sharp contrast is the Lexus ES, which at 37.5 inches of rear headroom and 40 inches of rear legroom. Despite this, the MKZ remains a competent competitor, thanks in no small part to the identically priced hybrid model, which comes in around $5,000 cheaper than the equivalent Lexus ES 300h.
From behind the wheel, we found that while the materials weren’t up to BMW or Mercedes-Benz standards, the colors were excellent and the seats were supportive. All of the safety technology worked well, and unobtrusively, but we complained about MyLincoln Touch, citing the same things we didn’t like about MyFord Touch: small, hard to locate, hard to use buttons and touch-points, and overly sensitive touch-capacitive sliders for audio volume and fan speed. The 2015 Lincoln MKZ hits all the right notes with luxury, ride, efficiency, and value to make a compelling case against the Lexus ES, but the fiercely competitive midsize market doesn’t end with Lexus. Acura, Audi, and Volvo all offer cars with, “the same prestige, price and package size as the MKZ.”
- Striking styling
- No-cost hybrid option
- Drive Control
You Won’t Like
- ES rear seat is roomier
- MyLincoln Touch is hard to use
- EPA revisions of MKZ Hybrid have narrowed its mpg advantage over the ES 300h
- Lexus ES
- Acura TLX
- Volvo S60
- Audi A4