The Ford Fusion-based Lincoln MKZ has had a rough go of it. First, its 2013 launch was slowed by production hitches. Then, its exclusive features like inflatable seatbelts began migrating to the MKZ’s lesser Fusion brethren. Sales aren’t bad, but at a time when the Lincoln brand desperately needs its own marks of distinction, the MKZ has fewer of them.
If the MKZ seems a bit overpriced even while lacking some prestige, then could it make sense a cut-rate premium used car? Let’s take a look.
This question was prompted by an MKZ that was parked near our shooting of this week’s Lexus ES 350 test car.
Direct competitors, but they are designed very differently.
To this editorial eye, the Lincoln has the overt feel of a committee-designed car, with a rounded split front end…
…which is joined to a flat, lumpy and uni-brow rear. Some might find poetry in this discordance, but the MKZ lacks the elegant unity of some of its competitors, the Lexus included.
Complicating matters is the MKZ’s uppity Fusion brother. That faux-Aston Martin grille has been planted by Ford on everything from Fiestas to Transit vans, but it still gives the first-adopter Fusion a clear touch of class, and its theme is imprinted on the rest of the car. Everything on the Fusion grows out from that grille.
Inside, the Lincoln is even closer to the Ford; it employs the same center screen and a similar knob-deprived center stack as the Fusion. That will probably change in the revisions slated for 2015, as this confounding and too-smooth interface has been a sticking point for consumers, but it’s doubtful that Ford will differentiate Lincoln much in the process.
Meanwhile, the Lexus has a separate controller and a whole different interface than the Toyota on which the ES is based. This is the kind of thing people are referring to when they say the MKZ isn’t different enough from the Ford.
Note that we are doing our best not to mention the mewling yuppies in Lincoln’s ads. Talk about harshing your automotive buzz.
Indistinct identity, unemotional impact, annoying advertising – it’s about now that my bargain-hunter alarm goes off. With new MKZ prices starting at $35K and options pushing it over $50K, you can find plenty of 2014 MKZs on eBay with low miles and nominal options for $25-30K. Comparably-equipped Lexus ESs are $35K and up.
That’s where the MKZ makes the most sense, where it’s priced like a Ford. For all of Lincoln’s lifestyle allusions and celebrity tie-ins (for instance, recording artist Aloe Blacc), the MKZ is best bought with a few miles on it.
Tell us in the comments – what do you think of the MKZ’s value proposition?