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Weidel on Wheels: Lincoln keeps the improvements coming with MKZ

By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Spend a week behind the wheel of this stylish sedan and one has to be impressed for a number of reasons. The 2010 Lincoln MKZ has a new exterior look, the interior is much improved and the vehicle delivers a smooth ride with sufficient power. So why does the MKZ receive only faint praise by most auto publications? It’s the very formidable competition that pushes this Lincoln into the middle of the pack in the mid-size premium sedan category. Many supposed car experts will point to high-performance sedans like the Infiniti G37, BMW 328i as superior in practically every category. Throw in other stalwarts like the Lexus ES 350, Acura TL and even the Nissan Maxima and it’s easy to see how the MKZ can get lost in the shuffle. One of the prevailing feelings with the MKZ is it doesn’t separate itself enough from the Ford Fusion, a family sedan that shares the same platform. Why pay more ($36,225) for the MKZ when a fully-loaded Fusion sport model runs around $28,355? Despite the criticism, which is valid, one has to admire what Lincoln has been doing of late. The stable of vehicles includes two mid-size sedans in the MKZ and the larger MKS, and two crossovers, a five-passenger MKX and the seven-seat MKT. All four vehicles possess some admirable qualities. The MKZ comes with major revisions for 2010. Improved fuel economy is one of the obvious ones. No longer a gas guzzler, the MKZ gets between 18 and 25 miles per gallon. There’s also a new front-end styling and a revised drivetrain. The interior changes are more dramatic. Lincoln decided to abandon the outdated dashboard and replaced it with a modern layout that resembles the MKS, which is the company’s flagship sedan. The MKZ interior is soft to the touch and also spacious, offering comfort to all. Even the trunk is unusually large and will hold plenty of cargo. Handy storage is also available in the center console and sizable glovebox. The MKZ features a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine with 263 horsepower and has no available V8. The vehicle accelerates briskly, but not fast enough to match many rivals. The front-wheel drive MKZ handles well and the braking is solid. Yet that type of performance is a bit underachieving for a premium vehicle. __________ 2010 Lincoln MKZ Price: $36,225 Mileage estimate: 18 mpg city; 25 mpg highway Power: 3.5-liter, V-6 engine with 263 horsepower Standard features include: Stability and traction control; rear parking sensors; foglamps; genuine wood trim; leather upholstery; leather-wrapped steering wheel; 10-way power driver and passenger adjustable seating; heated and cooled power front seats with memory functions; dual-zone automatic climate control; 11-speaker stereo, six-CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack, Sync multimedia integration system; halogen headlights