Ford has a big challenge ahead with Lincoln--somehow, it has to find a way to reboot a brand that's been dulled by a decade or so of neglect. While Ford lavished attention--and cash--on its former luxury brands including Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Volvo, it's now left with Lincoln to rediscover premium products, and how to keep those premium buyers in the fold.
We took a look at the first fully fledged sedan under Lincoln's new mission at last week's 2012 New York auto show. The 2013 Lincoln MKZ arrives at dealers this fall with a platform shared by the next Ford Fusion, just as before, but with far more differentiation than it had in the 2006-2012 edition. The body looks longer, with a stubby Volvo-style tail that contrasts strongly with the Fusion's almost Aston Martin-like front end. The winged grille that drew so many stares in the prior car gets toned down to nearly half its former size, while the interior gets lightened up--and lightened of its transmission shifter, which Ford ditches in favor of pushbuttons mounted on the dash.
A trio of powertrains define the MKZ's new mission, too. The base turbocharged four-cylinder has 240 horsepower, a six-speed automatic, front- or all-wheel drive, and a highway gas-mileage rating of up to 33 miles per gallon. The updated Hybrid version shares the Fusion's running gear for ratings that top the premium sedan class, estimated at 47/44 mpg. The top MKZ sports a 300-horsepower V-6 with front- or all-wheel drive and fuel economy of up to 26 mpg highway.
Features and fitments are where Lincoln hopes to do a better job distinguishing itself from Ford. The MKZ's interior has plenty of wood trim, and an available glass sunroof is the largest in the industry, with a retractable section that measures more than 15 square feet. THX-certified sound once again makes the cabin sound richer than Sony-audio Fusions, and the MKZ also benefits from the upgraded and updated MyLincoln Touch, which uses voice commands and steering-wheel controls as well as a touchscreen LCD to eliminate buttons and switches from the cabin, giving the interior a cool, calm look.
We're looking forward to seeing how it all works on the road. Until then, take a look at our first walkaround video, and for more information, see our full preview of the 2013 Lincoln MKZ over at TheCarConnection.