Previously I wrote my impressions of the MKZ at the Boston Auto Show (and every other brand there). Today I went to the last hour of the Providence Auto Show and had LOTS more time to spend with the MKZ and its immediate competition, the ATS (the MKZ and ATS were almost nose-to-nose), Avalon, Azera, and and Genesis. No one was there in the final hour, the reps were exhausted and not assulting me for my personal info every 5 seconds, and no one cared I was obviously doing direct car to car comparos, which bug the reps at bigger shows. Anyone can feel free to ask me any questions...
So, the same two MKZ's at Boston were in Providence as well, a Ruby Red Hybrid with the darkened 19 inch wheels and a 2.0 AWD Smoked Quartz with the standard 18 inch wheels, both without panoramic sunroofs (why at big shows like this?). As before, the Hybrid was open, the AWD wasn't. However, there were some big differences:
- The lighting in the RI Convention Center was much less harsh than the Boston Center, and the colors looked very different here. The Ruby Red, which looked somewhat bright in Boston, had much more depth here and the Smoked Quartz, which looked washed out in Boston, looked, well, smoky as it should and more complex. I will now withhold all judgement on all colors until I see them in natural light.
- Same goes for the interior. The light Dune on both cars looked darker in the warmer light here and the interior looked much more upscale for it. I'm still not a fan of the darker wood in both cars and look forward to seeing the light wood and aluminum trim options. When I mentioned I was looking forward to seeing the darker interior colors in the future, a rep volunteered that, "The black interior really looks great."
- The open Hybrid was powered up at this show!! What a difference. It had no power in Boston. The interior really comes to life with the words "Lincoln" lit on the sills, the gauges on, and all of the console options visible which, powered off, just makes the console look like a flat expanse of plastic, granted an elegant one. It also lets you play with MyTouch, the slick invisible ceiling lamps, and look at the cool front clip LED lighting. Note to Lincoln: ALL OPEN MKZ's AT ALL AUTO SHOWS NEED TO BE POWERED ON!!
- I was pretty harsh regarding the MKZ seats in my prior post. But the power being on in this car allowed me to adjust the seats and, eureka! Backrest forward here, moved up there, and some lumbar dialed in and, lo and behold, the MKZ seats DO have good comfort and support after all! Big difference to be able to move the seats. Again, POWER THEM UP AT SHOWS, LINCOLN!
- I have to say, some free advice to Lincoln for the 2013.5 or 2014 MKZ, a few quick emergency fixes. First, ditch the Focus/Fusion turn signals in the MKZ. It's the most cynical element in the car. How Lincoln could do all that work on the interior and then pluck econocar stalks, which the driver touches EVERY DAY, is just infuriating. Quick, right now, Lincoln must design some bespoke Lincoln turn/wiper stalks. Also, same goes for the hybrid gauge cluster, which I really don't like. It's the same as used in every other Ford hybrid. This might actually be a deal breaker for me on the Hybrid vs the 2.0, since the non-hybrid gauge cluster in the MKZ looks so cool in videos. The MKZ hybrid's make me think of a 2010 Fusion. Please, Lincoln, design a bespoke hybrid gauge package.
- The Lincoln reps, oy vey. I know they were getting to the final minutes of the show and looked tired, but... When I asked about the rear inflatable seatbelts, one rep told me I could go see one on a Fusion. Another old me I could see the massaging seats on a Taurus. Gotta work on that special Lincoln feeling, folks...
MKZ vs ATS:
I sat in both back to back a lot. As I said, they were almost nose to nose. The ATS looks and feels much smaller, but much sportier, like old BMW's did once upon a time. The dash materials and stalks (those stalks again!) feel higher quality in the ATS, especially the fake leather stitching on the dash, but the rest of the interior is about equal. The rear space is MUCH smaller in the ATS. Roughly equally optioned, the ATS is also about 5-7K more expensive, but this example with the HUD feels it. Not that I think these two will be cross shopped that much, but if space and passenger comfort are key for you, the MKZ is absolutely the way to go. If you want the absolute most driver oriented cockpit in the class and top quality materials (and HUD), it's the ATS without a doubt.
MKZ vs Avalon:
The Avalon I sat in at this show had a different interior than the last one, a much better color scheme. The fake stitching again looks good here. It's aiming for usability, though, not style. The MKZ wins in design and interior materials.
MKZ vs Azera:
Had a lot more time here with it than before. I'm totally not into the Battlestar Galactica Cylon theme that it's got going on the dash. I think it will age fast. There's something about it's interior materials that feel cheap in comparison with both the Avalon and especially the MKZ. That said, one well equipped example was 33K, so there's a cost difference here...
MKZ vs Fusion Titanium:
There was a drop dead gorgeous white hybrid Titanium there. Let me tell you. If I didn't care about badge, it would be a tough decision given this loaded example (with many of the MKZ features) was 36K. I don't care what the reps say, the Titanium seats are IDENTICAL to the MKZ ones, just with different headrests and coverings. They feel the same, the controls are the same... They're the same. Gauges are the same too. See above, that's not good...
Unlike in Boston, this car was open in Providence. Wow, what a machine. Recaros feel great, fabulous short throw shifter that makes the one in the CTS-V feel like a tractor unit. Less than 29K. A few nitpicks: When you close the drivers side door, it makes a terrible sound and the trim shakes... Not good, Ford. Also, the gauge font in this and all Foci is just soooo cheesy. Not sure I could look at it every day. Ford really doesn't do a good job with this detail, touchy feely stuff, huh?
I still think the interior packaging of these models is possibly some of the worst in modern automotive history. They both feel claustrophobic, cramped, and bloated. Fast, leather lined coffins...
What mileage! What space! What style! What price! Very impressive. I read this is selling like hotcakes, and it's easy to see why. Some cheap trim detail in the interior, though, more than even the Focus. Nevertheless, quite possibly my wife's next car in Energi guise in a few years...
I came of age car-wise in the 1980's and the first car to grab my imagination was my father's new Topaz blue 1992 Nissan Stanza hatchback. Everything about it seemed cool. The Nissan name itself was brand new, the switches were (for their time) high precision items, and the gauges were backlit! Amazing things. I was VERY into Nissan as a kid. There was a Sentra then, which always seemed to play second fiddle. Fast forward to 2013, and little about the second fiddle nature of things has changed, but it brings me back to my childhood in a nice way to see a Sentra badge on a new car. Thanks, Nissan, for the warm memories... What car does this for you?
After sitting in tons of seats at multiple autoshows, good to know my 2008 Saab Turbo-X seats are still the best in autodom... Quick, someone go buy those seat designs from NEVS....