With the unveiling of the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, the automaker also revealed its plans to modernize the car-buying experience. For example, it will be launching a 24-hour video concierge service so potential buyers can chat online with a live Lincoln representative via Webcam who will help guide them through choosing a vehicle and comparing it with the competition. Lincoln also mentioned a service called Lincoln "Date Night," a 48-hour test drive program that culminates in a "date" where Lincoln buys you dinner.
But enough about the showroom, let's talk about the car. All that remains of Lincoln's "waterfall grille" design language is its general silhouette. New, horizontal bars are supposed to elicit imagery of wings, but I can't help but to see a large chrome mustache adorning the MKZ's windswept facia.
It would be easy to simply call the new Lincoln MKZ a badge-engineered 2013 Ford Fusion. It is true that, as in previous generations, the Lincoln shares quite a few components with its blue oval brother.
For example, while the Lincoln is available with the same 2.0-liter Ecoboost and 2.0-liter hybrid configurations as the Fusion, the crosshair badge seems to adds a little more horsepower to either configuration. Output is now rated at 240 horsepower for the Ecoboost and 188 combined ponies from the hybrid power plant. Fuel economy estimates for that hybrid have not yet been finalized.
Where things start to diverge is at the top of the line. Where Ford offers a plug-in hybrid, Lincoln choses to go for power with a 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine option. That's 37 more ponies than the current generation's V-6 and 28 more pound-feet of twist for a total of 277 pound-feet of torque.
All non-hybrid Lincoln MKZs can be had in an optional all-wheel-drive configuration; the hybrid is a front drive-only affair. However, all MKZ models come standard with Lincoln Drive Control, a system that enhances ride quality by tying together the Continuously Controlled Damping adjustable suspension (also standard), electric power-assisted steering, engine, transmission, Active Noise Control, traction control, and stability control systems.
Inside, the MKZ further differentiates itself from the Fusion with the usual array of upgraded cabin materials. However, look closely and you'll notice that there's no shift knob for the standard six-speed automatic transmission (the hybrid model, of course, uses a CVT setup). That's because Lincoln has decided to go with a push-button shifter.
We've seen push-button shifters done poorly on an Aston-Martin, but Lincoln's layout, with vertical stacks for the PRND and S (for Sport) buttons alongside the MyLincoln Touch infotainment display, seems easy enough to understand and reach.
By far, one of the most interesting features of the 2013 MKZ is its Retractable Panoramic Roof, a 15.2-square-foot motorized glass roof that slides backward for open-air motoring. Lincoln claims it is the largest of its kind. I think it looks a bit awkward when retracted, like a sort of glass toupee, but it does air out the cabin considerably when open and looks seamless when closed.