It's a simple story here: The 2011 Ford Edge Limited is Lincoln's worst nightmare. Thanks to the vagaries of vehicle scheduling, I'm spending the week with an Edge Limited directly after my seven days with a 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. And after less than 24 hours and a bit more than 45 miles with the Edge, I can already tell you the timing isn't going to work to Lincoln's advantage.
Ford Has the Craftsmanship Edge
A particularly disturbing discovery when I drove the Lincoln had to do with the poor workmanship on the vehicle's exterior. The upper seal around the windshield was notably off, exposing bare metal, and some cowling pieces where the hood flows into the windshield were shoddily attached. So the first thing I did when I got to the Edge was check these two areas, and they were well-nigh perfect on the Ford crossover; the panel gaps are notably tighter on the Edge, too.
This may seem like a minor point, but when you hear automakers talk about "attention to detail," these are exactly the kind of details they mean. The fact that Lincoln (the company's luxe division) couldn't get them right and Ford (the company's mass-appeal brand) could essentially tells you all you need to know about the state of the Lincoln MKZ. But that would make for an awfully short story, so let's continue on.
Ford is Tops in Tech
The technology showpiece of the Blue Oval is, of course, its SYNC system, which provides touch-screen and voice-activated control over phone, nav, audio and climate functionalities. But while the Edge has the latest MyFord Touch enhancements, the MKZ was still making do with the previous generation setup. And the difference is significant.
Consumer Reports garnered some attention recently for its negative comments about the new system, but I found it to be easier to use and more helpful than the past SYNC iteration, especially when it comes to adjusting the climate controls. Overall, the touch screen worked flawlessly, and while the voice-recognition capability had some hiccups once when I was setting my destination on the nav system, a little patience and better enunciation solved the problem. And I didn't have to resort to manually punching in a street address or otherwise take my hands off the wheel/eyes off the road.
I also want to specifically address one of CR's specific complaints, relating to the apparent need to take multiple steps to accomplish a single goal with SYNC. The voice-command system does sort of prompt you through a number of levels to, say, change the radio station, but shortcuts abound. If you just say the name of a particular radio station at the system's very first prompt, it tunes that station in without you having to tell the system you want to go to the audio menu, then the radio menu and then the tuning menu.
That's not to say SYNC doesn't take some getting used to, because it does, but I think some of the complaints people are making reflect their unfamiliarity with this very different approach to controlling vehicle systems.
Ford Has the Edge on Value, Too
The MKZ Hybrid starts at $34,330 and the Edge Limited has an MSRP of $34,460; both then came with a couple thousand dollars worth of option packages, adding a little over four grand to the former and five to the latter. But comparing these two vehicles, separated by only about $1,000 in price, the Edge has a clear advantage over the Lincoln in every single area except for front-seat support and fuel efficiency.
This includes interior design, about which I need to cram in a few quick words: The MKZ's dashboard lived up to its name by looking a lot like a flat board, and was surprisingly dark and drab to boot. Edge designers added some dimensionality and a more extensive use of metal-ish accents, and these few simple touches'”again showing off the Ford division's attention to detail'”made a world of difference.
Now, Lincoln does earn kudos for offering the MKZ Hybrid at the same price as the standard model, but unless that's your sole focus, there's no reason to choose the MKZ. And if it is your sole focus, well, you're probably not looking at Lincoln anyway'”especially if Ford ever offers an Edge Hybrid.