Test Drive: Lincoln Demonstrates New American Luxury In The MKZ

2012 Lincoln MKZ Concept

Haute Living readers drive Mercedes, Audis, Maseratis and Lamborghinis. If they were inside a Lincoln, it’s more likely that they were being driven in a Navigator or a Town Car than at the wheel. But, starting with the MKZ, Lincoln has had a pretty serious nose-to-tail make-over that positions it as a serious American luxury contender. Up to this point, if you wanted an American car you pretty much had two choices: Tesla or Cadillac. One feels like a risk, and the other? Well, Cadillac has been busy shaking off its grandfatherly image and doing a pretty good job of it.

It really says something that a good girlfriend of mine, a loyal BMW driver who bought three new X5s in a row, recently showed up in my driveway in a new Cadillac SRX. Can Lincoln do the same? With a slew of cool design and branding events, they are certainly trying. I finally got to not just look at, but also field test a Lincoln (actually two) to decide if it’s worthy of that title and our readers’ attention.

photo 1First thing’s first. The car is great for lookists as it looks great coming and going and everyone who sees the car recognizes the redesigned grill as elegant and distinctive. It’s pretty on the inside too, with tactile surfaces, metal sliding controls that look modern without trying too hard, nice leather and stitching as well as fashionable options like dark wood inlay and mocha leather that some other brands don’t seem to have figured out yet. I tried both the gas and gas-hybrid options and preferred the hybrid, which, amazingly, is the same price. It’s smoother, quieter, gets 34 miles to the gallon vs. 16 for gas, and surprisingly, the pickup was there when needed.

As someone who has owned a Mercedes, BMWs, Minis, Porsches, and driven Ferraris and even a Bugatti, it’s not really the drive that got me excited. That would be pretty hard to do. What was really fun for me were all the amazing options like seats that massage you and blow cool air up your back while you drive. Seriously. I found that especially handy after an hour’s commute up to Wellington to go riding. The car also parallel parks itself, keeps you in your lane, boasts a THX sound system that made old 80s tunes sound crystal clear and new again and lets you choose the color of the elaborate interior lighting. I know it might be a cheap thrill, but I really had fun changing the lighting from blue to red, to teal, purple and back again. photo 1

Lincoln’s new design language has been a long time coming, and I’ve been excited about it for the duration, especially after I had lunch with Max Wolff, shortly after he joined the company as Design Director in 2011. He told me his plans for the company and I have been eager to not just see, but finally experience the results. I am a big proponent of supporting American manufacturing, so I really wanted to love it. And it’s safe to say I do. I’m not sure I’m going to trade in my Mercedes for a Lincoln just yet, but I can confidently say it’s a real contender. What also might be a real contender is the new MKC, which is due out this summer and is the all-important sophomore effort to follow up the MKZ, which has been out for a while now.

For wealthy individuals, for whom the $35,000- $37,000 sticker resembles a shopping trip to Bal Harbour, I can imagine them buying this car as a third or fourth car, or a car to keep at their third or fourth home, and being quite happy with it. For young professionals looking for a cool car and comparing it with luxury imports, the price, with everything included, is a godsend and, perhaps, just the thing to bring Detroit back.