Ford's luxury division is a brand that very much needs some attention from the car-buying masses in order for Lincoln's future to remain secure.
To reel in shoppers lost to rivals like Lexus and Cadillac, the company says it will bring seven new or heavily redesigned models to market by 2015. The company starts this trek with the MKZ.
Very similar to the concept shown at this year's Detroit Auto Show and loosely sharing a platform with Ford's upcoming Fusion midsize sedan, the MKZ looks to bridge the past successes of Lincoln and the future direction of the brand's design.
This Lincoln has a swept-back profile similar to that on the Fusion, with a short trunk lid that gives the car a coupe-like visage. At either end of the car, thin, pinched LED headlamps and taillamps set a design tone we'll probably see on other Lincoln products in the near future.
The car will have one of three engines: a 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four cylinder making 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque; a 3.7-liter V-6 with 300 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque; and a hybrid powerplant that gets 188 combined horsepower from a 2.0-liter engine and an electric motor.
The gas engines will have a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters while the hybrid will have a continuously variable transmission. AWD is an option on the non-hybrids.
To keep things safe and hip, the MKZ will have numerous tech and safety features like blind-spot monitoring; adaptive cruise control; lane-keeping assist; collision monitoring with brake support; and the much-maligned Sync with MyLincoln Touch.
Lincoln also wants its MKZ drivers to have a bit of fun behind the wheel, so standard on all models is a three-mode drive selector with choices of Comfort, Normal and Sport. Dialing up through the settings progressively sharpens the adjustable suspension, steering resistance, traction control, transmission shift points and throttle control.
Finally, and at the risk of damning a new product with faint praise, the coolest aspect of the MKZ is its optional retractable panoramic roof. Billed as one of the largest in the industry, this 15.2-square-foot glass panel fully retracts over the rear windshield, giving occupants a ridiculous amount of open-air space. Parking in a Lincoln gets its 21st century makeover.
Pricing hasn't been announced, but Lincoln says it will be close to the current MKZ, so expect the car to start in the mid to high $30,000 range.
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