Test Driven: 2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD (9.5/10)

2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD

The Lincoln Motor Company has been in rather sorry shape as of late. The 2008 economy crash hit them hard, but even before then their products were struggling to compete in the luxury market. I myself have criticized them, even going as far as to say that Ford should kill them off, completely restructure their lineup, and then bring them back as a new, reborn Lincoln. When I think Lincoln, I still think of the 1960s Continental, and we are quite far from the days now.

In recent decades, Lincolns have just been rebadged Fords with leather seats. During the majority of this period, Ford’s products were, quite frankly, pretty bad. The foundation for Lincoln’s products was a major weak point, and slow sales have reflected it. However, there is a bit of bright light now, with Ford’s new “One Ford” policy. America will finally get the great european Ford models that we have been so deprived of over the years.

In 2012 the new Ford Fusion came out, and this time it was simply an American version of the highly acclaimed Ford Mondeo from Europe. It is this well-proven platform on which this new 2013 Lincoln MKZ is based. It seems we now have a Lincoln model with some solid foundations, so the question now is, does it compete?

Appearance

2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD

Look at the old MKZ and look at the new MKZ and you will see a night and day difference in terms of visual appeal. The old car was conventional and boring, just another cookie cutter car to forget about. This new MKZ, though, I find it quite stunning. That swooping shoulder line that goes from the front to the back of the car, the elegant styling, and the raise rear deck-lid that does wonders for the proportions, it all adds up to make a very pretty car.

Bling-wise, there seems to be just enough chrome trim to distinguish the MKZ as a luxury car. I really love the “Bordeaux Reserve Red Metallic” paint on this car, and I think the dark gray wheels suit the look better than chrome. This MKZ had a sort of “less is more” flavor to it, and I think it was better for it.

In terms of image, the MKZ is unquestionably classy. It is the sort of car that might turn a few heads, but few people will know what it is. Instead they will all just think, “my what a nice looking car” and go about their day a little happier than before. That’s certainly not a bad effect to have when you roll up, and a positive image breeds positive circumstances.

Inside

2013 Lincoln MKZ Interior 2013 Lincoln MKZ Seats

The inside of the MKZ is definitely nice, but it does show its Fusion roots. Most cars at this price point still use a lot of plastics in their interior, so it isn’t really a knock against the MKZ either. In fact, Lincoln has done a nice job of dressing up the cabin with some wood trim and a nice clean design. The seats are leather, of course, and are quite comfortable for relaxed driving. When it comes to practicality, the MKZ seats five comfortably and has a nice big trunk.

2013 Lincoln MKZ Interior 2013 Lincoln MKZ back seat 2013 Lincoln MKZ Wood Trim 2013 Lincoln MKZ Trunk

Technology-wise this fairly loaded MKZ came equipped with lots of bells and whistles. MyLincoln Touch (awful name, by the way) is the car’s touchscreen infotainment system. It is basically the same as the controversial MyFord Touch system, but I guess it just touches you a little better.

Also of note is the dash mounted gear selection buttons in place of a traditional gear lever. You simply press P, R, N, D, or S and it will do what you desire it to do.

On the road

2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD

The MKZ knows it’s a luxury car, and everything it does on the road seems to serve that purpose. Many cars, like the Acura TL, are really sport sedans masquerading as luxury cars, but the Lincoln is more honest in its demeanor. However, that is not to say that the MKZ is all soft and cushy like Lincolns of old. It is very much a car of the modern era, and it conforms to our current expectations of a luxury car.

A good modern luxury car is really all about peace of mind, being able to trust in the car’s abilities so that you can actually relax behind the wheel. Being in a car that is too slow, or one that cannot handle maneuvers is terrifying because you know probably you cannot deal with any surprises that may come your way. Most Lincoln buyers will never push the limits of their car for fun, but if a deer jumps out or a truck cuts them off, they might do it out of necessity.

Luckily the MKZ has a pretty solid chassis, and it holds its composure well when cornering. It doesn’t want to be driven hard, but if you set it into a corner at a good clip, rest assured that it will rise to the occasion. This car does have a european chassis after all, like all of the new American cars seem to (Hmm….), so a good amount of handling prowess comes as no surprise.

2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD 2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD

I found the controls of the MKZ to be a nice surprise as well.

  • Steering is accurate, but it has a longer rack, so it never feels too eager or on-edge. I also found that there was a decent bit of feedback from the road coming through to my hands, certainly more than many other luxury cars fitted with electric steering.
  • Throttle response was pretty quick at low speeds, even when not in Sport mode. At higher speeds sport mode helps a lot with downshifts, but it never keeps you waiting too long for pull.
  • Brakes engage right at the top of the pedal, and stopping power is progressive, and potent, from there. Spongy brake pedals in old American cars were something I hated, so this is a large improvement.
  • The transmission worked well enough, but it’s best to just let it do its own shifting in D or S. The MKZ does have paddle shifters, but shifts take a while to happen after you send the command.

2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0L Ecoboost Engine 2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0L Ecoboost

Powering this MKZ was a 2.0L Ecoboost (that’s turbo in human speak), and it puts out 240hp and 231ft/lbs of torque. In fact it is the same engine found in the fantastic Ford Focus ST, just with slightly less power resulting from efforts to quiet it down a bit. It still has a nice low hum when you get on the gas, but it’s more in the background now.

In terms of speed, I think Lincoln has given this car the right amount of punch. It isn’t what I’d call fast, but it definitely isn’t slow either….. let’s go with calling it competent. That is to say that it will have no trouble getting up to speed on the highway or passing a slowpoke, but it doesn’t really hurl you back in your seat. What it does do extremely well is preserve a relaxed feel while accelerating. Being turbocharged, it makes full torque at 3000rpm, so it has a nice wide powerband. That makes its power easy to access, and it feels effortless to do so.

2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD Window Sticker 2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD

While the MKZ is fast enough for what it is, much of its V6-equipped competition will outrun it. However, in exchange for a little speed, you get very good fuel economy. This two-ton, all wheel drive cruiser still manages to see 31mpg on the highway, and 25mpg average. All of its V6 rivals manage mid-20s at best.

This brings me to the all wheel drive. In terms of peace of mind, there is no substitute. This is a car that will get you where you need to go in all conditions, worry free. It’s competitors all have all wheel drive too, but not having to compromise on fuel efficiency is a major plus in a market segment made up of executive commuter cars. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned, right?

Dollars and Sense

2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD

This car had some decent options, and cost about $47,000. Prices for the MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost range from $36,000 to around $50,000, so it sits right in the realm of other luxury cars.

For me the 2.0L Ecoboost AWD is the sweet spot of the MKZ range. The Hybrid is nice is you want maximum possible MPGs, but the competent performance gets neutered. The MKZ 3.7 (the Mustang’s V6) is a solid car, I’m sure, but I don’t think a shouty V6 suits the character of this car at all. The MKZ is very much focused on luxury and comfort, and the 2.0L Ecoboost fits the car’s character the best.

The MKZ’s competition consists of the Acura TL SH-AWD, the VW CC VR6 4-Motion, Infiniti G37x (or Q50x) and the Audi A6 2.0T Quattro. The new Buick Regal Turbo with all wheel drive could also be argued, but it sits in a much cheaper range in the market. Similarly, the Lexus GS350 AWD and the Infiniti M35x offer a similar package for considerably more money.

2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD 2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD Wheels

In truth, most of the MKZ’s competitors come fitted with a big V6 engine, so it has a very real advantage in fuel economy by comparison. That is a big factor for many buyers, surely enough to sway the tide if it is a close decision elsewhere.

The MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost’s biggest rival, car for car, has to be the Audi A6 2.0T, which actually gets better fuel economy at 33mpg highway and 28mpg average. That may seem to throw a stick in the works for the Lincoln, but when you look at the prices, you will find that the Audi costs a hefty 6 grand more than the Lincoln when similarly equipped.

Car for car, I do think the Audi is probably better. However, that is more because the current A6 is the best A6 Audi has ever made, and not because the Lincoln is bad in any way. The real question buyers have to answer for themselves is, is the extra six grand worth it?

For those wanting a more sporting driving experience, I would say to spring for the Audi. For most luxury buyers, though, I imagine the MKZ would serve them just as well as the A6. If all you want is a nice, comfortable, stylish car to get you around, and you don’t love speeding or driving fast through corners, then the Lincoln is probably the right purchase to make. You do get your money’s worth out of the MKZ, and it puts many more expensive cars to shame.

Conclusion

2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD

I did this drive to see whether Lincoln was finally getting their act together or not. From everything I experienced here, I think they a starting to move in the right direction. The MKZ is a great product, and most importantly, it is a competitive product that makes a very real case for itself in the market.

Lincoln has changed literally everything that was so wrong with the old MKZ. They’ve made the new car legitimately attractive, given it the right sort of engine (2.0T), and based it on a proven platform from Europe.

Having said that, one of my favorite things about the MKZ is that Lincoln hasn’t just made a carbon copy of a European car and put their own badge on it. While I do love the Cadillac ATS, it is quite clearly a copy of the BMW 3 Series in the way it drives. The MKZ, on the other hand, retains its identity as an American sort of luxury car. It has certainly been updated to compete with modern performance standards, but its flavor and attitude are still in tact. The MKZ is very much what a modern Lincoln should be.

So this is a good car, a really good car. Lincoln has finally done a good job with something, and now it is on the consumer to take notice. In this regard, I am merely a messenger letting you know that I’ve tried the car, it’s really good, and if you haven’t previously considered buying a Lincoln, now you should.

WoM Score: 2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD

Primary Function: Luxury: 2
Secondary Functions: Performance(1) Practicality(2) MPG(2): 2
Visual Appeal: 2
Build Quality: 1.5
Value for Money: 2

Final Score: 9.5/10

PS: A special thanks to Lawrenceville Ford/Lincoln, in Lawrenceville, NJ, for giving me access to their MKZ for this article.

Contact Manny Montoya at emontoyous@gmail.com.

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-Nick Walker

8 thoughts on “Test Driven: 2013 Lincoln MKZ 2.0 Ecoboost AWD (9.5/10)”

  1. Looks like one of the best Lincoln’s in a very long time. The only disappointment I see is the billet grill design. You would think they could come up with something better. If they added a slight curve to the bars they could have accent the grill opening…especially at the top and bottom where there is a gap. These gaps take away from the whole front end design in my humble opinion.

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    1. No I just drove it for this article. But I would recommend giving it very serious consideration in this price range. It has some things that its competition lacks.

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      1. Wanted to thank you for the terrific article, truly very well done. It’s true, every car model has its very own quirks and interesting items. This is why there are so many models. I personally didn’t like the Lincoln too much when I drove it, but it’s great to hear other’s opinion. Thank you again.

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      2. Thank you. As I said in the article, the MKZ isn’t really a sport minded car. If sport is what you want go European, or for the Caddy ATS (if you can do with less space). I try to review cars from the perspective of the target market, my personal tastes are much more sporting.

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      3. I personally never felt the Lincoln MKZ competed with the European sports/luxury compacts, as it’s size seems to compete more with the Lexus ES (rather than the sportier IS).

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      4. Yea, that’s why I didn’t compare it to them. Did you read the article? The only euro this thing is really close to is the Audi A6 2.0T. The Audi is a better car, but you pay a decent premium for it, and for most buyers I would bet it isn’t worth an extra 6k over the MKZ.

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