LINCOLN LAUNCHS UPSCALE SERVICE WITH 2015 MKZ SEDAN

2015 Lincoln MKZ Sedan

By Tom Crosby

Lincoln wants its brand to be perceived as luxurious as some foreign competitors. So for 2015 a new marketing strategy called “Black Label” delivers personalized service, upscale materials and, hopefully for Lincoln, a label that appeals to affluent buyers.

Launched late last year, the strategy began at 32 Lincoln dealerships selling the classy Lincoln MKZ sedan (our test-drive) and the new Lincoln MKC crossover. Every Lincoln dealership is to offer it by year-end.

Black Label adds $5,995 to Lincoln’s flagship all-wheel drive MKZ mid-size sedan’s base price. That buys you a personal representative at home, office or dealership to help you choose leather, wood, paint and other materials to complement specially designed seats, extra trim and an array of subtle touches complementing one of four design themes.

Our theme was Indulgence with truffle brown Venetian perforated and stitched leather seats, dark brown Alcantara headliner and Ziricote wood trim plus $8,500 in options – a safety loaded technology package, upgraded audio, expansive panoramic sunroof, chroma couture premium metallic exterior paint – all upping luxury with flawless fit and finish and tasteful chrome trim surrounds.

Black Label’s special customer treatment includes a no-cost rental vehicle while covered maintenance is performed, anytime car washes and annual vehicle detailing. You spot Black Label vehicles when the logo’s Z is painted black and the MK is chrome.

Our engine was the 2.0-liter EcoBoost; Lincoln also offers a 3.7-liter or hybrid power plant. New for all MKZ’s this year (the last major redesign was in 2013) include a standard rear view camera and upgraded technology tie-ins.

The ride was refined and quiet, as an upscale vehicle should be. Handling’s solid with four-wheel independent suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars interacting with continuously controlled damping and sensors that can keep a single wheel from diving into potholes.

Comfort, Normal and Sport (which adds growling sounds under acceleration) are drive modes allowing personalized ride settings. The Technology Package included adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist (which always needs driver attention), collision warning and brake assist.

Lincoln MyTouch handles functions, sometimes sluggishly, on the 8-inch dashboard screen. A mobile app was added this year and MyKey can set teenage driving limits. SYNC operates voice commands.

The dashboard menu complexity and swiping audio/climate controls require occasional visual glances that can be distracting. A spare tire sits beneath a spacious trunk. Government and insurance industry overall crash tests gave MKZ top scores.

LIKES: Ride, quiet, plush comfort, interior, handling
DISLIKES: Safety options needed, dashboard design
BOTTOM LINE: Style, concierge service, luxury at upscale price

FACT FILE: 2015 LINCOLN MKZ BLACK LABEL AWD

  • Base price $48,360 ($56,360 as tested)
  • Vehicle weight 3,848 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 112.2 inches
  • Length 194.1 inches
  • Width 73.4 inches
  • Engine specs 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder, Ecoboost
  • Horsepower 240 hp at 5,500 rpm
  • Torque 270 ft.-lbs. at 3,000 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed automatic w/manual paddles
  • EPA Rating 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway
  • Range 17.5-gallon tank, regular unleaded
  • Performance 0-60 in just over 7 seconds