For the eight of you who have been following my automotive scribblings here on RG since early 2017, you likely have gathered that I like the premium offerings of Ford Motor Company. This is of course true. It must be if I have two Town Cars. Two! But despite my close relationship with my local Lincoln dealer, and the great service I’ve gotten from them over the years, as late as 2015, I hadn’t driven any Lincoln automobile newer than a 2011 model, and tended to favor the good old final-generation Town Car. At the time I had a 2000 Town Car and a 2006 Volvo V50 station wagon.
Back in the summer of 2015, I stopped in to check out the used cars at Strieter Lincoln and yak with my favorite salesman, Peter Clarke. I’d been eyeing the last generation MKZs, as CPO 2010-12 models were frequently sitting on the lot with attractive pricing, say 22K or so. Not bad. Sure, it was based on the Fusion, but the upgrades were nice, especially the interiors.
An especially appealing 2011 MKZ was on the lot with black cherry metallic paint and off-white leather. Peter was more than happy to throw me the keys. It was a V6 model.
I turned out of the lot and stepped on it. Holy crap! This thing was zippy! I enjoyed driving it, but ultimately my cheapskate…err, frugal personality overrode and I returned the keys without making an offer.
The same day, I also test drove a 2007 Town Car Signature Limited.
It was nice, but the silly-putty toned leather (Medium Dark Stone, I believe was the official color) put me off, as did the 2006-11 instrument cluster with tach, which looked suspiciously as if it had been pirated from an Econoline panel van.
I stopped in a couple weeks later and Peter told me the ’07 Sig Limited was sold to a couple from Minneapolis, who bought the car sight unseen and picked it up a couple days later.
A few weeks after that, my Volvo started having A/C issues, and an Autumn Red 2004 Town Car Ultimate with Parchment leather appeared at the dealer. So it was so long Volvo, and I became a two Town Car household.
Since then, I’ve been happy with my cars, but as the 2000 Cartier is currently at 134,000 miles and change, I’m starting to slightly think about a replacement, say in a couple years. And with only a month or so before 2018 models start appearing, I decided it was time to try out the current version of the MKZ.
As I pulled into Strieter Lincoln, I walked the front row, as usual. Several nice late-model Lincolns were on offer, including a nice ruby red ’11 MKS with off-white leather, and a ’15 MKZ in the same hue. But I was drawn to the “2.0H” badge on a gunmetal-gray (Luxe Metallic, in Lincoln-speak) ’15 Z. I have never driven a hybrid automobile before, and I wondered how they performed.
My parents have rented a couple of Priuses on vacations to Scottsdale and Marco Island, and I was a little curious about the start-stop driving characteristics, and how the power was-or wasn’t. Peter was more than happy to put a dealer plate on the Z and throw me the keys. “I’m here til six, enjoy yourself!”
The MKZ 2.0H is, as one would expect from the displacement, a four-cylinder, with 141 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque. A CVT transmission and electric motor complete the powertrain, and the results of the marriage are, well, mixed.
Turn out of the dealership and throttle it, and the four-pot announces its presence with a most unluxurious buzz which can be both seen and heard. MmmmmZZZZZZZT! Power, however, is pretty decent, and acceleration is fine. If you don’t drive like you’ve just robbed a bank, you can achieve pretty consistent smoothness, with a little practice.
The MKZ I tried had 24,000 miles on the odometer. These based at about $46,000 new, not exactly a trifle, but as a near-new certified car, the pricing was quite attractive at about $22K.
All the usual suspects are quick to dismiss this as a fancy Fusion, but that smacks of laziness. Calling this a Fusion is no different than calling a Lexus ES a Camry, or a 1977 Continental sedan a Ford LTD. It’s called platform sharing, folks, and it really isn’t anything new.
The interior in particular is a nice place to be, especially with the Cappucino leather trim. I’ve never been fond of dark black or gray graymist interiors, and the off-white trim is very pleasing, at least to my eyes. The black carpet and dash top and door caps make for a nice contrast as well. These also have a push-button transmission, which was a little confusing at first, but I imagine a week of driving would cure that. It also frees up a ton of cubby space in the console.
Driving impressions? The seats are nice. Firm yet comfortable, they remind me of the Volvos I used to own. I took it out on Interstate 80 it had plenty of passing power-something I wondered about with the hybrid power plant.
Indeed, it managed to get up to Ludicrous Speed with minimal fuss, which surprised me. There was no stuttering or sputtering at stoplights either. If there was any on/off action of the powerplant while the car was sitting at a red light, I didn’t notice it. Also surprising was the fuel economy. I managed to figure out how to reset the average fuel economy gadget, and even with my somewhat throttle happy carousing, I still managed to return 37.4 mpg. Not bad at all.
All in all, it felt more polished and Lincoln-like than the previous-gen 2010-12 MKZ did. All the sheetmetal and most of the interior are substantially different from the earlier Z, definitely a plus when you’re talking luxury makes. It was smooth and comfortable. That four-banger buzziness was a little annoying, but if you drive sedately it probably isn’t a deal breaker. Bottom line, I enjoyed my seat time in this car. Will I buy one? I don’t know. I don’t know if I’d buy a hybrid. I’d probably need to try out the non-hybrid EcoBoost Z first. I have also driven the 400-hp 3.0 V6 2017 MKZ (report coming soon to these digital pages), and the fun I had with that car might negate any desire for frugality and getting a 2.0H. But it was a damn nice car, and for those fine folks interested in a hybrid Lincoln, I’d say, check it out!
I really need to get myself in gear and drive one of these. As a luxury car reactionary, it’s hard for me to accept a Lincoln or Cadillac with less than eight cylinders. To my eyes, your Autumn Red ’04 looks like a by-God Lincoln. But as the man said, “Don’t knock it til you try it”, and I intend to do so. Certainly 37.4 mpg is hard to argue with, and the interior appears to be done beautifully.
The mismatch of the door “chrome” (plastic?) to the dash would drive me crazy.
We bought a CPO 2007 MKZ in 2008 w/20k on it, for about $22k! So…. in 10 years its almost the same deals on these cars! (Granted this MKZ is loaded, has AWD, and is New England prices).
First American car ever and we’ve been very happy with it. The Ford CPO warranty was better than new. The car is now 10 years old w/125k miles and currently handles two rug rats. Knock on wood it’ll do another 5 years or so.
Its easy to work on and even has a few go-fast goodies from the Fusion Sport and Mazda Speed 6 parts bin.
MKZ is simply too small.
and too expensive.
Lincoln ruined the MKS with an overly bunkerized interior and it only moves well with fleet/limo companies and people old enough to remember when Lincoln was the biggest name next to Cadillac.
Mercedes C and E class as well as BMW 3 and 5 have easily stolen the energy from MKZ and CTS.
the new Continental is too small as well.
The CT6 makes more sense…
The XTS is a better buy than the MKZ.
The XTS is very nice, I drove one 2-3 years back and have been keeping an eye on the trade-ins at the local Cadillac dealer ever since. So far, they’ve all been black or silver, but if a White Diamond one or red one with the beige leather came in, I’d be tempted. The XTS is more comparable to the outgoing MKS size-wise, but the MKS/Taurus have that giant center console, basically cancelling out any extra spaciousness.
I need to try out a current Impala too, they look pretty nice in the top trim level.
I plan on testing a new CTS soon, to see how it compares.
I rented an XTS for a road trip from Omaha to Gallup, NM a few months ago. After spending more time behind the wheel than I ever did when I was shopping for a car, I gotta say I’m still happy I went with my 300c. It was a nice ride, and from some angles it’s gorgeous. The night time ambient lighting fills the interior with a warm golden hue that is just delightful. But, the interior feels cramped with that stupid big console. It digs into your right knee (or at least these cars and their platform mates do for me) and the worst part for me is that you can’t see the hood so it feels like looking out of a minivan or cab over truck.
Bummer. I wanted to like them but nope.
I’ve owned 2 Chrysler 300 2006 models and one 2012.
The 300 is a nice car if you don’t need a larger backseat.
Otherwise, there are dozens of choices for a big car that rides well: Genesis, XTS, Lacrosse…
I am NOT HAPPY with Ford’s interiors.
It’s no wonder so many people have left cars for crossovers/SUV.
I am pretty sure that the Atkinson cycle refers to the gas engine. Nice write up and the car looks nice. They (manufacturers) are going to really need to work on NVH if they are going to be putting four-pots in luxury cars.
You are correct. Fixed.
We drove a 2.0T in 2014 before we bought our recently departed Buick. They were just not dealing at all on them. Given how low the resale turned out to be, even CPO below half list at two years, the first owner really takes a beating. Another case of giving the old guy the shaft for doing the right thing, buying American.
I am more interested in the 2.0t configuration, very nice looking cars, I don’t agree with the naysayers on this being a gussied up fusion, the only thing it shares with a fusion are some dimensions and some hidden common parts, great looking sheetmetal that has not lost its appeal.
I drove a 2.0H last year thinking it could be a good replacement for my VW diesel and came away from it with about the same impression. While I liked the interior a lot and thought it rode and handled nicely I couldn’t believe the amount of racket coming from under the hood during any kind of acceleration. The engine sounded like it came out of a 1980’s Escort and was completely out of character from the rest of the car.
That 37mpg in a luxury car sounds pretty tempting. These days when I’m sitting in my typical gridlock on my commute it sometimes occurs to me that my Mustang isn’t really the optimal tool for the job and I really should check out something more practical. But I really don’t see myself ever driving a Prius. But a nicely equipped MKZ hybrid does sound like a perfect commuter, assuming they can be bought at an appropriately depreciated price. I really should at least test one some time.
Of course if one is looking at one of these, you really should at least check out the high-zoot Fusion version. They are also available as plug-in Energi versions, which may be even more tempting.
there was ( finally ) a recall on those MK Z’s….the steering would lock up and I think the gas even stuck?
someone I know was in a big accident because of that; they eventually recalled the vehicles but I think they wanted $40K to fix the bloody thing, and an uphill battle to get them to cover it
Really, you’ve never driven a hybrid before? My word! But up until last spring, I’d never driven one either. Oh, I’d read numerous magazine accounts about the awkward driving experience of various hybrids, mostly Toyotas. I’d ridden in my in-laws’ Prius and found it tolerable, but unappealing. None of those hybrids for me… I’d stick with my old GTI.
That was the status quo until May, when I was helping my only child choose a first car. We started looking at old VWs, & Audis, the kind of used cars that appeal to me. But that made less and less sense as I considered her operating conditions, her lack of mechanical savvy and ready cash for repairs. So these parameters emerged: under $15k, under 50,000 miles, and a hatchback (who wants to load and unload a trunk standing in the Seattle rain?) I did a brand-agnostic search, and what came up, after the fading Nissan Leafs, was a little car I’d overlooked, the Ford C-Max. I’d never considered it for myself, put off by Ford’s styling inside and out, but I would consider it for her.
She bought the hybrid version, used. And by the end of summer, I’d bought a new Energi plug-in version for myself. So far, it’s been all happy motoring, as Ford used to say. With plug-in shore power accounting for about one-fifth of my first 5000 miles, I’m scoring 65 mpg, or twice what my GTI could get with my diligent hypermiling. Ford’s hybrid system, similar to your Lincoln’s, demands no compromise of me. Well, aside from some “starter lag.” When I’m charging up an uphill on-ramp at full throttle after a stretch of all-EV motorin, it might take a second for the gas engine to start up. Then I hear a clutch-slipping surge of engine noise, which fades fast as the sound system’s active noise cancellation steps in to counteract that. In the time it takes to think, “that’s the stupid CVT sound,” I’m backing off the gas and merging effortlessly into 70 mph traffic, job accomplished.
Yes, I miss shifting gears. I miss normal acceleration sounds that rise in accordance with my speed. I miss the clutch, when my knee isn’t aching. But I only miss them a little, for those few seconds a day. The rest of the drive, I’m enjoying a virtuoso symphony of three power sources (battery, engine, and regenerative braking) acting in harmony to create motion. The auto-start-stop is a non-event, since the big battery and strong electric motor already have me going from a stop when the engine lights up. Once or twice a month, I do have to stop for gas. This might be intolerable to the true EV zealots, but it’s such a break from my previous vehicles that it’s also a non-event.
I realize that I’m late to the hybrid party. When I mention my new car, everybody just wants to talk about the next Tesla, or the Chevy Bolt. Such is the unsung fate of us late adopters. But I feel my timing was perfect- I avoided a decade of disappointment with poky Priuses, until I found an 8-sec 0-60 hybrid that’s halved my fuel bill, eliminated my repair bills (at least for a while) and made me forget how much I liked the old Mk V GTI. If VW had made the C-Max, it would be better styled, with impeccable details. Germans always sweat the small stuff so well. But this hybrid Ford does the big job of providing efficient transportation, in comfort, so very well that I’m delighted with this change.
Tom, any thoughts to share on your V50 ownership experience? I’m in need of a new daily driver, and a used euro wagon would fit the bill for a lot of reasons.
I really liked my V50. I bought it as a 1 year old CPO with 14000 miles. A 2.5 l with no turbo, but it still had good power and excellent handling. If the air conditioning hadn’t started acting up, I would have hung on to it. Drove it seven years, it was a good car. The trouble now would be finding one. The last year for them was 2011. Even when I got mine in 07 they were very uncommon. My local dealer sold about five of them a year.
Good to hear! I bought a 2005 V50 T5 FWD last night–68k miles, one owner, no accidents, all dealer service, timing belt done 1k miles ago, and the selling dealer replaced a CV axle and did some suspension work. It was the least expensive, best condition V50 within 500 miles of my house. I got it for well under $7,000.
There’s more than eight of us, and some of us have been following you for much longer than Riverside! My daily driver is an ’07 TC and you are correct in your description, but it is truly a great road car comfortable and gets excellent mileage. I rented a Fusion Hybrid in Baltimore last winter and although it did the job, I had the feeling that underneath, hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code were being executed every time I stopped and accelerated.
Lincoln resale value isn’t a good thing for the new car credit buyer. If their car gets totaled after a year or two, they stand to owe twice what it is worth.
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