You couldn’t have told me that I would be a Lincoln man when I first started driving. Having owned cars from each of the GM brands prior to 2009, that’s what I figured it would always be. However, I figured I would end up an Oldsmobile or Cadillac type of guy. When Olds bit the dust in 2004, Buick got the side eye by default. I was a GM loyalist as if I worked for the company, and never saw any Ford products appealing, except for the Lincoln LS. That particular car had been etched in my memory since it debuted in 1999 as a 2000 model. Fast forward to March 2016 and being 34 years old at the time and single; my taste in vehicles had changed a bit. I only liked luxury cars and Lincoln was my go-to brand exclusively.
I had been driving a 2009 Lincoln MKS sedan for 4 years, which I liked a lot. I had purchased the MKS the day I closed on my home as a Certified Pre-owned vehicle with only 19k miles. It hadn’t given me any problems. However, it was nearing the expiration of Ford’s ESP warranty I purchased when I initially bought the car to supplement its factory warranty, and I didn’t want any expensive repairs to pop up suddenly as often is the case once a warranty expires.
Prior to 2016, Lincoln dealers would often call me with an offer to buy my MKS, and I would decline every time. I did this because most dealers back then were all smoke and mirrors. They tried to get you to walk into the dealership, spend unnecessary hours playing mental games of chess, and then turn the tide on you. Well, this one dealer started calling me and he sounded young and closer to my age or even younger. I was skeptical because this dealer was all the way up in Glenview, IL (northern Chicago affluent suburb), and promising all types of things if I came in to take a look at Lincoln’s current inventory. I let him run my credit just for the hell of it even though I figured I wouldn’t get approved. I had a few dings hit my credit, since I purchased the MKS in 2012, so I wasn’t expecting to buy another car any time soon.
This was in late March 2016, and he said that he had gotten me approved with no problem. Having gone down this road a number of times and it turned out to be something else altogether, or the dreaded sentence that nobody with challenged credit likes to hear: “You need a cosigner!” I was hardly enthusiastic. I looked on their website and wished for the then brand-new 2017 Lincoln Continental arriving at dealers to be something I could afford. Heck, I would even take a base model with the standard 3.7 that was in my current MKS. However, he had a few MKZs in stock that I saw online, but none in any colors I wanted. I was hoping there would be more than what I saw on the website. I went to the dealer on an unseasonably warm March evening a few days before the month’s end out of boredom. By this time, I had seen a few other cars I liked including a 2016 MKX, Lincoln’s midsize SUV. This one was the Reserve model and it stickered for over $55 grand. It definitely was out of my budget.
I had driven a ’16 MKX as a loaner for a week and I loved it. It was my first foray into SUVs and a taste of why the SUV craze had taken over America. The guy we’ll call Matt was quite personable and cool, and had shown me around the lot. He was a different type of salesman. He was young, no frills, straightforward, and seemingly honest. He was almost too nonchalant, but I liked him.
I chose the MKZ to look at because I couldn’t afford the MKX Reserve model as it was stickering for over $55k for the one I wanted and the MKZ gave me sleeper car vibes in terms of styling, and performance based on the many reviews I had read. Introduced in 2006 originally as the Zephyr to replace the LS Sports Sedan, it was renamed MKZ in 2007. 2013 saw a total redesign of the car along with platform mate Ford Fusion, and this was definitely the looker of the two. Lincoln used design elements from the 1940s to channel its signature split-wing grille, and sleek fastback profile. It also offered a class-exclusive full panoramic glass roof option that slid entirely open for a convertible-like feeling. You could now get three different wheel sizes from standard 18″ wheels to 20″ wheels on the new Black Label model.
The MKZ had been Lincoln’s best seller and sales of the redesigned 2013 model were strong at over 30,000 MKZs sold. When the MKZ debuted in 2013, Lincoln offered a choice of three engines. The base engine now sported a new 2.0 Ecoboost engine. It had 240hp and 270 lb tq. Clearly, I was making a good choice. Not to mention I was in Lincoln’s demographic. I was young, single, and under 40. Lincoln surely would love to have me as a brand-new and hopefully returning customer. After all, isn’t that how you build brand loyalty? I told Matt I wanted a loaded MKZ with all the options. I gave him my must-haves and he checked the inventory. I originally wanted an MKZ color in the red family. Red is my favorite color so it’s my go-to whenever I buy a car.
He brought out two MKZs that he thought I would like; both were the Reserve model.
One had the 3.7 v6 engine which was Magnetic Gray in color and the other had the 2.0 4-cylinder and was called Platinum Dune Metallic.
I took the 4-cylinder out, first because I just knew I wasn’t going to want to own a 4-cylinder anything less a luxury car and I figured it would be sluggish and boring. I then tried out the v6 next and while it had more power higher in the power band, the 4-cylinder actually seemed sportier and quicker. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the chrome wheel design on the Magnetic Gray color. I, being sort of old school, just couldn’t see myself in a 4-cylinder Lincoln. However, it checked all the boxes and was the top trim level save for the Black Label model. Also, the Platinum Dune metallic was a beautiful pearl white and the 19-inch polished wheels with the low-profile Michelin Pilot wheels were sick (righteous) looking in my book. I never had a white car before so I told Matt if he was serious, I would go with that one.
I had never owned a brand-new car before and was pessimistic as to how I could be approved with my credit and afford a note that was similar to my current note on the MKS. Well, turns out Lincoln was offering a Red-Carpet Lease promotional. The finance guy came and inspected my trade and offered me $12k and I owed $11500 so I used that remaining credit and added $1000 and it was a pretty smooth transaction. I was able to skip my first payment and the dealer added on free maintenance after Lincoln’s complimentary 12-month maintenance pkg. They even filled up my tank and gave me $20 for dinner since it was pretty late and I was the last customer, so we all went home at the same time. When the car came from the detail shop, I was in awe of how beautiful the car looked up closely, and it was my very first brand-new car. I was feeling frisky that night!
The split-wing grille did the car wonders, but I also loved the single blade-like taillight treatment out back. The reverse lights broke up the taillights in the middle. Matter of fact, the rear was probably my favorite design element on the car. Although, I liked how the hood had a subtle bulge with two creases that converged near the front of the hood as well. That first drive home was sublime. The smoothness of the car and the handling was a night and day difference from the heavier 2009 MKS I had been driving, which wasn’t bad in itself. The standard 11-speaker sound system sounded pretty good playing my R&B and hip-hop music, although I longed for the THX sound system found in my MKS. I didn’t even realize the car was missing the THX system until the drive home or I would have insisted on another car. Sound system upgrades were high on my list and it was in the other MKZ with the 3.7 v6.
When I pulled up in front of the house, I marveled at how quiet it was under idle. These were things I didn’t pay attention to when I was originally test-driving the car. The next day it rained all day, so I didn’t bother driving it. I just sat in it reading the owner’s manual and checking out the interior. The cream leather smelled really good and the modern open console offered plenty of storage.
The steering wheel was heated and had a nice feel to it. It was wrapped in leather and had a good feeling in my hand.
It had many of the redundant buttons for the cruise control and audio that could be found on the touch screen. I took it the following day to see my family in the city and my late grandfather couldn’t stop smiling. That made me happy, and I genuinely felt he was proud of me. One thing I noticed, being that it was the reserve model, it had the ability to remote start from not just the key fob but from anywhere. The MKZ has a built-in GPS as part of the Navigation package on the Reserve and Black Label models.
Theoretically, if you were to let someone drive it, you could see where they were at all times on a map in the Lincoln Way App. Now this was a car and a modern-day Lincoln. Being that this was a leased vehicle, you are allotted so many miles per year and that was 10,500 per year for me. I thought that I wouldn’t be driving it as much since I knew it was a lease, but I was wrong. I loved this car, and I got so much attention with the color and shine of the paint. It had those 19″ polished wheels that set the car off as well, so it looked like a true luxury car with a hint of sportiness. The hint of sportiness was not an illusion though. The car actually came with three different drive modes: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. The Sport mode held the transmission gears just a little bit longer and the handling was noticeably firmer.
The Michelin tires were low profile, so you definitely felt the road more. However, the gas mileage was not as good as advertised, and I rarely got over 21mpg or maybe it was just me. I’m known for having a lead foot. The 2.0 4-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 270 ft lbs. of torque was more than enough to keep my foot on the floor. I wasn’t missing the 300 horsepower like I thought I would from the v6. As far as I knew I was the only one with this color and optioned just right. I was all over the city of Chicago especially downtown and the west side.
My friends loved my car and ironically my best friend ended up leasing a 2017 Cadillac CT6 just a few months after I got my car and then my other friend leased a 2016 Infiniti Q50. I guess I had started something.
I kept my car washed and the sunroof in the tilt position almost constantly except when it rained outside. There were a few times I even forgot to close the sunroof and went to bed and woke up realizing it had rained overnight. That’s how much I was in love with this car. The MKZ had a way of attracting all the attention even when you didn’t want it. I got pulled over once and the cop said I was speeding but he let me off with a warning. He said I pulled you over because I noticed your car amongst all of the others with the HID lights and twin winged grill. He loved the car though. At the end of the summer, I was already at 6500 miles. It had only been five months. I ended up looking for a second car in the fall because I had a dreadful feeling that I would be way over the miles when my lease was up in 2019.
I decided to keep it in the family! I ended up with a 1996 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC which I only kept for a little over two months before I bought the 1st of two Lincoln LS’es. I thought that buying a second car would help me stay under the mileage but that didn’t happen. I suspect I would have kept the miles down more if my friend hadn’t totaled my first LS I had bought as a second car; not even a year later.
The LS and MKZ were a match made in heaven. They had the same color paint, and both complimented each other well. One was rear-wheel drive and the other front front-wheel drive. At the end of year two, I was at 23K miles with only around 7-8k miles left to go before I was at my limit. By this time, I was on LS #2, but it was in the shop half the time, so I was still driving the MKZ as a daily. I also bought another Mark VIII LSC the same year and color as the first one. Talk about Deja Vu!
I called Lincoln about extending the mileage and what the charges were. They promptly denied me and referred me back to the terms of my lease agreement. Lincoln charged .12/mile over the lease maximum; however, they typically will waive that coverage if you buy out your lease or get into another Lincoln. That .12 cents might not seem like much but if you go several thousand over, then that adds up pretty quickly.
As I was getting towards the end of my time with the MKZ whom I had named White Frost, I was pondering on keeping it. But looking over the residual and cap costs and all of the other costs associated with a buyout, I realized it wouldn’t be feasible. I still had the LS which by this time was much better mechanically, but I wasn’t comfortable to have that as a primary daily driver, especially with commuting to the office daily.
I bought a 2010 MKT SUV a few months before I turned in the MKZ. It had high miles but was well maintained and I needed a break from expensive car payments. I had taken out a personal loan through my credit union to get the MKT.
I was now at 34k miles in my MKX, and my cap was 30,500. Lincoln waived the first 500 miles, and I was responsible for $1400 at least turn in. I loved that car a lot and often look back at those pictures of better times… happier times.
It’s a shame that Lincoln discontinued the Continental and MKZ in 2020. I’m still hoping for a return of a Mark IX Coupe to the Lincoln lineup since they did give the Continental another go. I honestly blame auto journalists and critics for the destruction of the American Luxury scene amongst the big three. It was their constant criticisms year after year of wanting American sedans and coupes to be European-inspired in terms of driving dynamics and feel. This in turn persuaded a lot of Americans that BMW, Audi, Mercedes were the way to go in terms of luxury cars and now look at us; American luxury cars are all but extinct. I feel the American people as a whole, did a huge disservice to Cadillac, Lincoln, and Chrysler. They abandoned it.
Cadillac is hanging on…for now with the CT4 and CT5 and related performance models. The MKZ lives on as the Zephyr name once again, but only in China. Lincoln made a business decision and said if Americans don’t want them, China does! Therefore, I’m stuck with SUVs when I do decide to return to the market to buy a new car. I do want an Aviator Grand Touring Hybrid, but I’d be happy with the Chinese MKZ if they ever brought it stateside. I mean why not; I might be feeling frisky one day.