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!