Special Coverage

Greater L.A. Auto Show

Ford Motor Co. puts Lincoln’s new guise on the brand’s ’10 MKZ midsize sedan, which bows today at the 2008 Los Angeles auto show.

The car features Lincoln’s signature design elements – a split-wing grille, wraparound head lamps and a chamfered front fascia – that debuted on the MKS fullsize sedan. The decklid also is new, as are wider taillamps that feature light-emitting diode technology and, of course, the Lincoln star.

Such appointments help “amplify and expand the Lincoln portfolio,” Mark Fields, president-the Americas, says in a statement.

For ’10, the MKZ will be available with a sport appearance package that includes a standard-equipment 6-speed SelectShift automatic gearbox, sport-tuned suspension and a 263-hp 3.5L Duratec V-6 engine upgraded to deliver a 0-60 mph (96 km/h) clocking in 7.1 seconds – 0.6 seconds quicker than the current model.

A high compression ratio of 10.3:1 and aluminum cylinder heads designed to promote increased air flow help improve performance. But not at the expense of refinement, Ford claims.

Insulation was overhauled to further reduce cabin noise. “The customer should definitely notice how quiet the new MKZ is,” says Chief Engineer J.D. Shanahan.

Meanwhile, the new SelectShift system locks out downshifts to protect against over-revving, but “enhanced overdrive cancel” locks out fifth and sixth gears to accommodate performance-oriented driving.

Breakthrough electronic technologies include Ford’s Blind Spot Information System and Cross Traffic Alert. The former sounds an alarm if the driver is about to make an unsafe lane change, while the latter alerts the driver of traffic approaching from either side – a particularly useful feature when backing out of a parking spot.

The restyled MKZ also will benefit from a pair of new electronic concierge technologies: 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report. Using’s Ford’s voice-activated in-car communication system dubbed SYNC, 911 Assist automatically connects a properly paired mobile phone to a 911 emergency operator when there is an airbag deployment.

Ambient lighting and leather from renowned Scotland-based Bridge of Weir Leather Co. Ltd. are hallmarks of the MKZ’s rich, new interior.

“We’ve increased the luxury feel,” says Peter Horbury, executive design director-The Americas. “We have a new interior theme with all-new primary touchpoints.”

Other additions and upgrades include:

  • Armrest clamshell storage.
  • Daytime-lit, 3-dimensional instrument cluster layout with center speedometer.
  • New door trim with 360-degree handles.
  • Redesigned center stack with high-mounted, next-generation navigation system.
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel with real wood insert.
  • Color schemes pairing dark charcoal or steel gray with swirl walnut accents, or light camel with olive ash accents.

Assembled at Ford’s plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, the new MKZ is expected in showrooms this spring.

Through October, MKZ sales were 7.9% below like-2007 – sharper than the decline of the total car market which is down 6%, year-over-year, according to Ward’s data.