Car Reviews First Tests

2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0 AWD First Test: The Smooth Sleeper

Unassuming Sedan Bolts out of the Gate with 400 HP

Unassuming Sedan Bolts out of the Gate with 400 HP

Be careful with that ironic eye-roll toward the 2017 Lincoln MKZ because there might be a beast lurking under that sedate exterior. Refreshed for 2017, the MKZ received a major engine upgrade: a new line-topping 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that churns out 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque with all-wheel drive and 350 hp for front-drive versions.

The exclusive-to-Lincoln engine is a welcome addition to the brand—strong, refined, and with a fierce bellow at full throttle. That said, properly launching our test car required some finesse, despite its AWD system and sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sports. Simply mashing the accelerator will overwhelm the tires. Get it right, and the sedan will run to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds and hit the quarter mile in 13.7 seconds.

For comparison’s sake, the Infiniti Q50S Red Sport 400 also packs a 400-hp, 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6. In rear-drive form, that sedan only needed 4.5 seconds to hit 60 mph. We have yet to test the new Audi S4, but it’s worth noting that an all-wheel-drive 2017 A4 was only 0.1 seconds behind the Lincoln, despite being down two cylinders, one turbo, and 148 horses.

The Lincoln could be quicker if it were a tad lighter. At 4,293 pounds (1947.3 kg), the MKZ weighs 421 pounds (191 kg) more than the Q50S Red Sport 400 and is 670 pounds (304 kg) heavier than a featherweight A4 we tested during 2017 Car of the Year testing, though the Lincoln is longer than both of those cars. A new transmission would help, too—the MKZ’s current six-speed automatic shifts slower than Infiniti’s and Audi’s seven-speed units, even in Sport mode.

Our tester’s optional Driver’s package (torque-vectoring system, stiffer suspension, and active damping) hint at sporty handling, but its lack of cornering prowess was quickly revealed. In addition to the lazy-shifting gearbox that occasionally denied downshifts, steering feel was heavy and numb, and it’s a bit of chore controlling body lean through corners.

Where the MKZ excels is the open highway. Here, the Lincoln feels much more solid than its competitors, with a remarkably quiet cabin despite the 19-inch wheels and low-profile tires. Meanwhile, the engine is also hushed and eager to keep pace at triple-digit speeds.

In addition to its new engine, the 2017 MKZ sports a new look. The previous wing-inspired dual grille disappears in favor of a more traditional mug mimicking Lincoln’s new Continental flagship sedan. Lincoln tweaked the interior as well. Our MKZ tester featured a stunning combination of black and cream leather, with stitch patterns mirroring the Lincoln logo. The Sync 3 infotainment system worked flawlessly, which is something that couldn’t be said about previous Sync versions we’ve used.

In Lincoln’s quest to stand out, a peppy 400-hp motor is a step in the right direction. Paying the engine’s $2,750 USD to $4,000 USD premium (FWD to AWD) over the base 2.0-liter turbo-four may not be an easy decision for most buyers, but those who do will be rewarded with a handsome and smooth-riding sedan that can surprise and keep pace with some sportier-appearing cars.

2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T AWD
BASE PRICE $42,325
PRICE AS TESTED $59,775
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.0L/400-hp/400-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,293 lb (60/40%)
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 193.9 x 73.4 x 58.1 in
0-60 MPH 5.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.7 sec @ 102.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 108 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.94 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.1 sec @ 0.76 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 17/26/20 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 198/130 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.96 lb/mile