Los Angeles — Surprise! Lincoln’s got a new face.
Ford’s luxury brand rocked the Los Angeles Show on Tuesday by revealing the MKZ — the first production Lincoln to get the family’s new kisser, first shown on the Continental concept last spring. The MKZ’s entrance marked the third time this year that Ford products have stealthily stolen the show, with the Ford GT supercar debuting in Detroit and the Continental in New York.
The MKZ’s new, one-piece grille is a sharp departure from the current generation’s “split wing” grille. It is anchored by the brand’s logo with a subtle, repetitive Lincoln motif forming the grille’s mesh. Together with swept, 12-LED headlamps, the face bears an unmistakable resemblance to Jaguar’s graceful luxury sedans.
“The design philosophy lays out the Lincoln experience from first sight,” said Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra. “It is a smooth, elegant, effortless experience.”
The MKZ, Lincoln’s best-selling car, was due for a mid-cycle refresh for 2017 after its total redesign in 2013 on the same global platform as Ford’s Fusion and European-model Modeo. But the face-lifted MKZ takes on larger importance in the luxury segment’s highest-volume segment as Lincoln continues to reinvent itself as a more youthful, fashionable brand.
“While our competition’s grilles emphasize aggression,” said designer David Woodhouse in a clear reference at rival Lexus’s polarizing grilles, “our design is more about seductive harmony.”
Once written off as a senior citizen’s brand, Lincoln’s average buyer was 13 years over the segment’s 54-year old average in 2008. Since then it has plummeted to 58 years old as Lincoln has introduced its well-received MKC and MKZ crossovers.
To complement its new look, the MKZ will get a more capable powertrain, with a twin-turbo, 400-horsepower, 3.0 liter V-6 engine — an engine exclusive to Lincoln’s lineup. Only BMW, Cadillac and Mercedes offer twin-turbo 6-cylinders in the compact sedan segment — and only in low-volume, performance models. The twin-turbo will come with an all-wheel-drive system. A front-wheel-drive, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder motor will be offered as well as a hybrid version.
The new MKZ’s interior also gets upgrades in keeping with Lincoln’s three watchwords: quality, performance and style. The console eschews the old car’s sliding controls for hard, round knobs found in the new MKX — and will come stuffed with autonomous technologies including: pre-collision assist, parallel and perpendicular park assist — and for the first time in the Ford family, “park-out assist.” The cabin will also receive optional material upgrades including more seat stitching and Alcantara roof liner.
“Our customers are looking for three attributes in a luxury midsize sedan — technologies that ease their everyday experience,” said Galhotra at the car’s secretive, off-site reveal in downtown L.A.
The MKZ’s wheelbase, roof line and rear lighting remain the same. It will go on sale next summer.
Henry Payne is The Detroit News auto critic and can be reached at email@example.com.