With the brand new Continental flagship set to launch in 2017, Lincoln has taken the opportunity to give its MKZ midsize sedan a significant update. The MKZ receives a new look, technology and equipment updates, and a brand new Lincoln-specific powertrain to further distinguish it from its Ford Fusion sibling.
It's easy to mistake the new MKZ for the Continental, especially when viewed from the head-on perspective. Gone is the double-bow grille, replaced with a broad, chromed mesh unit that bears a striking resemblance to the ones found on Jaguars.
All-new LED headlamps and lower LED accent lighting plus new available 19-inch alloy wheels give it a polished look. There are fewer changes around the back, with the MKZ retaining its fastback-like rear pillars and high decklid.
When it goes on sale, the MKZ will be initially offered with one of two four-cylinder engines. The standard gas-powered MKZ gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder (2.0T) that develops 245 hp, and comes paired to a six-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive. The Hybrid variant (2.0H) also makes its return; the Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder puts out 188 hp and drives the front wheels through a CVT.
Set to arrive later in the year is a brand new 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine that was designed specifically for use in Lincolns. The replacement to the outgoing naturally aspirated 3.7-litre V6, it produces significantly more power: up to 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque when running on 93-octane fuel. This engine is mated to a standard all-wheel drive system, and when equipped with the newly available Driver's Package, gains the same nifty torque-vectoring rear differential featured in the Ford Focus RS. While we doubt it’ll get the drift mode from the Focus, it should allow for nimbler handling in corners. A six-speed automatic is also used with the turbo six.
While the MKZ's interior retains its flow-through centre stack, there are a number of upgrades throughout the cabin. MyLincoln Touch has been replaced by Sync 3 which offers tablet-style controls, faster and improved graphics, and enhanced smartphone integration. Climate and stereo controls also receive proper buttons in place of last year's touch-sensitive setup. Flanking the revised infotainment system is Lincoln's signature push-button gear selector on the left, and a number of new available tech features on the right. One such feature is a parking assistant, which can automatically slot the vehicle into a parallel or perpendicular spot. It also offers exit assistance, to ensure bumpers stay scuff-free on the way out.
Other added details include new door panels and seats that feature distinctive diamond perforations, as well as a brand new Revel premium audio system. The MKZ also gets a new steering wheel, and different Lincoln-specific wiper and turn signal stalks. Hey, the devil's in the details, right?
Keeping pace with the ever-evolving world of active safety, the new MKZ gains full-speed functionality for its radar cruise control, while the forward collision warning system receives an upgrade to turn it into a collision prevention system – complete with pedestrian detection and emergency autonomous braking.