No matter what your preconceptions are of the American luxury car, the Lincoln Black Label MKZ is definitely worth a look if you are in the full-sized luxury car market. The Black Label MKZ comes in five different “Themes” which packages different interior colors setting different moods for each vehicle. The model I had was paired with the Indulgence theme which, according to Lincoln, “celebrate[s] the rich allure of chocolate with Indulgence. . . a sumptuous interior that evokes a feeling of warmth similar to holding a cup of delicious hot cocoa.”
My Indulgence equipped MKZ came with the 2.0L EcoBoost® four-cylinder engine matted to a 6-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission with paddle shifters. At first I thought Lincoln was crazy putting a 240 horsepower four-cylinder engine in a full sized luxury sedan, especially when you don’t have to look very far in the luxury sedan market to find a high horsepower V8 and even some V10’s. But when you drive a different new car every week, you have to keep an open mind and not let preconceived notions cloud your judgment. So I got into my 2015 “Indulgence” MKZ Black Label Lincoln thinking of chocolate and hot cocoa, opened all four windows, slid back the massive fully retractable panoramic glass roof (add $2,995) and hit the open road.
I was ready for the MKZ to be sluggish off the start finding it hard to believe that a 240 hp four-cylinder engine would appropriately power a vehicle of this size. I was pleasantly surprised and found the engine and transmission to provide an adequate amount of power and responsiveness for both quick around-town trips and longer highway cruises. I didn’t find the MKZ particularly fun to drive around town with this engine package so if you are looking for a bit more performance, the 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 engine with 300 horsepower (add $1,800) is a must, however it comes at a cost of about 4 mpg in the city and 6 on the highway . I did find this engine package perfectly suited for highway driving and would think the V6 would be a bit unnecessary. So if you are looking to get somewhere in luxury and save a few dollars at the pump, the MKZ with the EcoBoost engine certainly foots the bill.
The exterior styling is rather sedate compared to other luxury sedans in the market in my view, but I think it works for the MKZ. I see it as understated luxury – sort of a sleeper luxury car. It doesn’t scream money like some of its foreign competitors that come in at twice the price, but it says I appreciate fine things and luxury but I’m practical with my money. The chocolate truffle-inspired leather interior actually didn’t evoke the feeling of warmth similar to holding a cup of hot cocoa for me, but rather it evoked feelings of warmth similar to leather club chairs, cigars and an 18 year-old single malt (enjoyed responsibly, of course). A very comfortable and pleasant feeling, either way.
I will say I wasn’t a fan of all the buttons in the interior. Lincoln, like Cadillac and some others in the luxury space, have gone exclusively to buttons. When I started the car I couldn’t find the shifter knob to put the car in the drive? Why? Because there isn’t one. Don’t get me wrong. I love the push button start. Keep that button. But give me some of my knobs back!!! Call me old fashioned, but I want to shift my car into drive or reverse. The radio? All buttons. If you want to turn the radio down in a hurry because Taylor Swift just came on, you have to push a button. Several times! Or hold it down and then after a delay, it starts to turn it down. Either way, you end up getting way more Taylor Swift then you want. With a knob, you don’t get any Taylor Swift — at all. My only other criticism for Lincoln is when you fully retract the massive, and I mean massive, panoramic glass roof your rear visibility is reduced to about a 10 inch rectangle out the back window. You can still see out the rear and I didn’t find it to be a safety hazard, but visibility is significantly reduced and it took some getting used to. Minor things, I know.
All in all for $56,935 (as tested with options), the Lincoln Black Label MKZ may be the sleeper luxury car of 2015. Understated luxury. Refined interior. Fuel efficiency. Half the price. Don’t let the buttons prevent you from giving this vehicle a try. Whether its chocolate and hot cocoa or cigars and single malt, this luxury car is definitely worth a second look.