I’m going to say something that could destroy all credibility that I may possess as a car reviewer. This 2014 Lincoln MKZ is both a serious sports sedan and a plush, comfy luxury barge. How can that be? Glad you asked.
The trick is to order it like my test car. Get the EcoBoost 4-cylinder model with all-wheel-drive. Get the Reserve option package. Then get the Summer Tire Handling Package, which adds gorgeous 19-inch aluminum wheels, 245/40 Michelin Super Sport summer performance tires, and special sport tuning for the continuously controlled damping suspension and electric steering.
Trust me on this. The result will provide a genuinely entertaining sport sedan when you want it, and a soft, wafting luxury sedan when you need it.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan Review: Models and Prices
Lincoln offers the MKZ with a choice between two gasoline engines and a gas-electric hybrid powertrain in a dedicated MKZ Hybrid model that costs an extra $1,000.
My test car had the standard turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, paired with the optional all-wheel-drive system ($1,890) and the Reserve equipment group ($3,195). Reserve trim adds perforated leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, ambient cabin lighting, HD Radio, and a navigation system. Exterior upgrades include front accent and running lights, a reversing camera, rear parking assist sensors, and a power trunk lid with a soft close feature. A Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert is also included with the Reserve package.
Additionally, the MKZ pictured above is painted Ruby Red ($495), has inflatable rear seat belts ($195), and is equipped with the Technology Package ($2,250). This option package adds a Forward Sensing System, adaptive cruise control system with Collision Warning and Brake Support, a Lane-Keeping System, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beam headlights, and Active Park Assist, which steers the MKZ into a parallel parking space while the driver operates the pedals and transmission.
What makes this particular MKZ worthy of attention from driving enthusiasts, though, is the Summer Tire Handling Package ($1,565), which includes sport suspension and steering tuning, as well as 19-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in 245/40 summer performance tires. In combination with the MKZ’s standard Lincoln Drive Control system, this setup proves utterly transformative.
All together, my MKZ’s as-tested price came to $44,675, about what you’d spend for a well-equipped Ford Explorer.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan Review: Styling and Design
If this were my MKZ, I’d get it in Smoked Quartz, a gorgeous dark bluish gray color. The Ruby Red paint job is fine, but its also flashy, and one thing the Lincoln MKZ doesn’t need to draw is more attention. In California, where I live, Lincolns are not common, which makes the stylish MKZ stand out even more than it might in other geographic locations.
This is an appealing car, unique in a good way, especially around back. Under the sheetmetal and glass, the MKZ shares its structure and other bits and pieces with the Ford Fusion, which some might say is an even better looking car than the Lincoln.
Here’s the thing, though. The Fusion is a huge hit, even in L.A., and they are literally everywhere. If you’re driving this Lincoln, you’re not going to see yourself coming and going, especially when it is equipped with these terrific looking 19-inch wheels. Plus, the Lincoln is offered exclusively with a retractable panoramic sunroof that has a single pane of glass that slides down and over the rear window. How cool is that?
Design certainly takes precedence over practicality when it comes to the MKZ’s artfully rendered interior. The dramatic, bridge-type center console looks good, but makes it very hard to access storage areas. Touchscreen and touch-panel controls add a technological flair, but at the same time they’re not as user-friendly as simple buttons and knobs.
Lincoln could also pay closer attention to detail in terms of look, feel, and construction. Big panel gaps between the dashboard and door panels cheapen the cabin, and the car’s fabric-wrapped roof pillar covers look and feel as though they might fall off at any time. And what’s up with the steering wheel stalks? They look like they came out of a Ford Fiesta.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan Review: Comfort and Cargo
Once you’ve ducked under the MKZ’s low, swept-back roof pillars and situated yourself in the multi-adjustable leather front chairs, you’ll find it easy to get comfortable in this Lincoln, especially if you’ve paid $595 extra for the optional multi-contour front seats with Active Motion massage. Don’t assume that I’m likening comfort levels to your sofa at home, either. The MKZ has properly supportive seats that look and feel terrific.
Open the car’s rear doors, and you might assume the MKZ’s back seat to be cramped, but it isn’t. Keep in mind that this is an entry-luxury, midsize car, so it won’t have space for stretching out like the old Town Cars did. Shin space is a little snug for the longer limbed members of the species, and I can see how taller people might have a problem with headroom. I fit just fine, though, and I like that the seat sits high with good thigh support. It’s also mounted forward of where the rear wheels are, making it easy to get in and out.
Open the trunk to access 15.4 cu.-ft. of space, on par with midsize and large luxury sedans. My compact stroller fit wheels first and lengthwise, and the MKZ supplies plenty of room to haul luggage for a family of four. If you need more space, the rear seats fold down, but not flat. There’s also a very small center pass-through section that’s essentially useless.
My wife made a really great point about the MKZ’s trunk lid design. She complained that there isn’t a touch pad or a hands-free way to open the trunk lid, which means she would need to drag the key out of her purse, in her mind negating the whole point of keyless entry.
Gotta admit, I never would have noticed that.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan Review: Features and Controls
Within the MKZ, controls are rendered in unusual fashion on a futuristic dashboard that, for some reason, reminds me of Tommorrowland at Disney World. You’ve got push-button engine starting, push-button transmission controls, touch-sensitive stereo and climate controls, reconfigurable gauges with a number of programmable features, and, yes, MyLincoln Touch technology for the Bluetooth connection, climate functions, stereo, and navigation.
Believe it or not, you get used to how most of this stuff works. My complaint is that I often need to stab twice, or even three times, before I get a response, which is aggravating. These touch-sensing controls lack the precision and tactile feedback of buttons and knobs. It doesn’t help that the MyLincoln Touch display screen collects fingerprints like a crime-scene detective.
My test car was also equipped with Lincoln’s Active Park Assist technology, which autonomously steers the car into a parallel parking space while the driver operates the pedals and transmission. It works, but you’ve gotta pull so far forward of an open space that there’s no way you’ll get a chance to use it on a heavily trafficked street.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan Review: Safety and Ratings
There’s no shortage of safety equipment for the Lincoln MKZ. From the standard programmable MyKey features and a 911 Assist function, which automatically notifies rescuers of a collision and the car’s location when the airbags deploy, to exclusive upgrades like inflatable rear seat belts that help cushion passengers from crash forces, the MKZ is a safe automobile.
One thing I’d like to note is that I found the MKZ’s Lane-Keeping System useful, and only slightly irritating. Normally, when I’m not testing technology like this, I leave it turned off to eliminate vibrations, chimes, warning lights, and sudden autonomous tugging of the steering wheel. Lincoln’s approach is subtler, and as a result I left the system engaged.
When the MKZ drifts, it delivers a rumble-strip type of vibration through the steering wheel. If the driver doesn’t change course, it adjusts torque to bring the car back toward the center of the lane. You barely notice that the system is working, and only occasionally does the windshield-mounted camera err in terms of what it is “seeing” in terms of road markings.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Crash-Test Ratings
In addition to offering a slew of safety technologies, the MKZ proves safe when a collision cannot be avoided. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the MKZ an overall rating of 5 stars, though it should be noted that side-impact protection for the driver rates just 3 stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) bestows upon the MKZ its “Top Safety Pick” rating.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
Lincoln offers three different engines for the MKZ. A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, dubbed EcoBoost, is standard. A 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine is optional, as is a gas-electric hybrid powertrain rated to get 38 mpg in combined driving. All-wheel drive is available with the EcoBoost and V-6 engines.
Fuel the EcoBoost engine with premium unleaded, and it makes 240 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter peaking at just 3,000 rpm. That’s 60 horsepower and 7 lb.-ft. less than the optional V-6 engine. Lincoln says the EcoBoost produces 231 horsepower on regular unleaded gas.
Now, the whole point of choosing the EcoBoost 4-cylinder is to enjoy the power of a bigger engine combined with the fuel economy of a smaller engine. Trouble is, I averaged 20.1 mpg during a week of driving, well short of the EPA’s combined-driving estimate of 25 mpg. That’s probably better than what the V-6 would return, but the V-6 also doesn’t require premium fuel in order to maximize power output.
To me, then, the benefit of selecting the EcoBoost engine is to reduce weight over the MKZ’s front wheels for improved handling. If you don’t share that desire, my recommendation is to get the Hybrid for better gas mileage, or the V-6 for better power and cheaper gas bills.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan Review: Driving Impressions
To understand why I so thoroughly enjoyed my time in the 2014 Lincoln MKZ, first you’ve gotta understand how Lincoln Drive Control works. Using a button on the steering wheel, the driver can choose Comfort, Normal, or Sport settings, which calibrate the transmission, the steering, and the continuously controlled damping suspension accordingly.
With Lincoln Drive Control set to Comfort and the transmission in Drive mode, the MKZ wafts and wallows its way down the highway, even with the aggressive 19-inch summer performance tires installed on my test car. Choose the Normal setting, and the softness evaporates, giving the MKZ a more composed ride that’s less likely to induce seasickness. Choose the Sport setting and the suspension stiffens up, making every effort to eliminate body motion and giving the car a rigidly planted feel.
Now push the transmission’s Sport button. Revs pick up, and the entire car behaves like it just drank a double espresso. It is almost frenetic in its eagerness to play. Get off the main drag, start pitching an MKZ with the Summer Tire Peformance Package into a series of S-curves, and you’re going to want to post a photo of this car to your Instagram account with a caption of OMG LOL.
Thanks to Lincoln Drive Control, this Lincoln successfully serves two completely different types of drivers. You might know of a situation where two different members of a household have two completely different ideas of what constitutes a luxury car. In fact, it might be yours.
Aside from Lincoln Drive Control and the Summer Tire Performance Package, the MKZ exhibits accomplished driving dynamics. Granted, the EcoBoost engine struggles a bit with a curb weight approaching two tons, but the car certainly is quick if not particularly fuel-efficient. Plus, the all-wheel-drive system adds sure-footedness in rain and snow.
The transmission shifts smoothly in Drive mode, though in Sport mode when the driver switches from an aggressive to a relaxed driving demeanor engine revs hang momentarily while the car figures out that you’re no longer trying to go fast. For a smoother transition, you could use the paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
Ford Motor Company knows how to do electric steering, and I’ve got no complaints with the MKZ’s expert tuning. The brake pedal is perfectly calibrated, too. I didn’t even mind the active lane keeping system, which gently returns the MKZ to center without freaking the driver out with excessive vibrations, chimes, or flashing lights. Instead, the car calmly curves back toward the center of the lane.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan Review: Final Thoughts
I recently received an email from an Autobytel reader who wanted a car that offered a plush ride for his wife combined with sports sedan handling for him. This is not an uncommon requirement in American households, but all too often automakers choose to go one way or the other. Or, if you’re Lexus, you build two different cars with two different missions.
I didn’t have many suggestions for this reader. But now that I’ve driven the 2014 MKZ EcoBoost with all-wheel-drive, Lincoln Drive Control technology, and the Summer Tire Performance Package, the answer is obvious.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan Review: Pros and Cons
- Looks better in person than in pictures
- Engaging EcoBoost 4-cylinder, available V-6 and Hybrid
- Summer Tire Handling Package will blow your mind
- Lots of technology, much of it useful
- Excellent crash-test ratings
- Design emphasized over practicality
- Technology interface usually causes frustration
- Nothing “Eco” about EcoBoost in terms of fuel economy
- Could use improvement in terms of materials and execution
Lincoln supplied the vehicle for this review
2014 Lincoln MKZ photos by Christian Wardlaw