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Discussion Starter #1
As the title says, I got to spend a lot of time with the MKZ at the Boston Auto Show. I'm going to be test driving the car soon (and I know some have done so already) but what follows is my static auto show impression. In short, my impression was mixed. Great exterior, mixed interior, and probably a bit overpriced. Within a stone's throw of the MKZ were also a Lexus ES hybrid, an ATS, a Ford Fusion Titanium, and the entire BMW and Infiniti stands among others. For reference, I'm currently driving a Saab Turbo-X wagon:

Lincoln Display:
- Lincoln was front and center in the display hall, but they only brought 2 MKZ's. The first was a non-accessible, dark grey V6 with chome wheels on a turntable and a red hybrid with darkened 19 inch wheels that was on the floor and open for everyone to inspect. Neither had the panoramic roof. Both had the light Dune/tan interiors...
- Caddy, Chevy, Scion, and Ford itself among others had cars available for test drives, Lincoln did not...
- The staff there at the Lincoln booth was very knowledgeable and very nice...
- Lincoln was offering $50 for arranging MKZ test drives at the show (!!)
- The MKZ was getting a LOT of attention from show goers and always had a line of people waiting to get in. People were clearly aware of it and wanting to see it...

Exterior:
- Just beautiful, it indeed looked like nothing else at the show. In a time of increasingly angry, aggressive, hard edged design, the flowing Z stands out...
- The greyed-out rims are definitely the way to go and look impressive. The standard chrome wheels I did not find appealing at all...
- The panoramic roof in photos definitely gives the car a sleekness that's lost a bit with a standard moonroof in the cars I saw at the show...

Interior:
- This was a mixed bag for me overall...
- With its large screen, My-Touch, and transmission-less console, the first impression is one of sleek simplicity. Materials are very solid and competitive across the board...
- My impression first impression sitting down, however, did NOT scream "luxury" to me, not as much as its competition (ES, GS, ATS, 3-series, etc) accomplish. It feels more in line with the Toyota Avalon or Buick Regal than the Lexus ES. This isn't function so much of the design, but more the relative paucity of wood, chrome, and contrasting materials and colors. Some blame might go to the light Dune color scheme, which I did not like at all. I felt it overwhelmed and washed out the overall design somewhat. A neighboring Infiniti M felt positively sumptuous by comparison (different classes I know, but still, not super far apart in sticker pricing). I look forward to seeing the interior in other colors and trims...
- I have to admit I was disappointed by the parts sharing, to be honest. I kept reading that we should think more VW/Audi than the old Ford/Mercury, but I don't know. Column stalk and door switchgear look and feel identical to the Fusion Titanium and while I couldn't compare side by side, I wouldn't be surprised if the passenger side dash and door panels were identical as well. If not, then they are awfully close. I wish I could report different, but really, the overall ambiance of the MKZ Hybrid interior and the nearby Fusion Titanium were very, very similar. I prefer the look of the Lincoln, but in reality there's really only a center console design difference that separates them... The Avalon is vastly more differentiated from the ES and all of the Audis are more so from the VW's. The Acuras, while obviously emerging from the same design and material studios, are also better differentiated. Ford/Lincoln's going to have to work harder on this...
- Also disappointing were the seats. In fact, they were some of my least favorite of the show. First, and again I hate to say it, I went back and forth between the Fusion Titanium and the MKZ several times and I couldn't feel a difference. I really couldn't. Both cars have soft, flat cushions with somewhat simple linear backrests with almost no lateral support. Even the base Dodge Dart's seat had more support. Other luxury cars' seats at the show hug, support, and envelope you. Here instead, you sit "on" the Fusion's/MKZ's seat. No hugs, no support, no envelopment, no nothing... Now, I know this is very subjective for people, but in such a progressive vehicle, the MKZ's seats felt really throwback in a bad way, almost lumpy. My first thought was "rental car" quality. With no other chairs available for the MKZ, this could be a deal breaker for me. Again, this is in a non-powered car on a show floor, so I'll have to wait for the test drive.
- This was my first time playing with Lincoln and Ford's MyTouch (on an MKT, MKX, and various Ford products). I thought prior criticism was just luddite auto reviewers looking for something to moan about, but I have to admit it's pretty frustrating. It's not as bad as Caddy's CUE (see below), but it really does need to be fixed fast. The design, implementation, intuitiveness, speed of response, all of it is below average... It wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, but it could be for others and needs ASAP correction...

So that's it. Great looks, grumbling interior issues...

I had other impressions about the show and competition as well. I'll put that in a separate reply to this you can read or ignore at your leisure. I'm happy to answer any questions...
 

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Nice review, Iiari!

I agree with you. The interior sucks compared to the concept. The attention to details aren't there. The MKX has a better interior, imo. The color schemes are dull.

Hopefully, the production MKC will have a much better interior compared to the MKZ.
 

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spectacular write-up, Iiari

I can't wait to hear about the Cadillacs...& any other mfgs you're willing to go into details about!

Lincoln Display:
- Lincoln was front and center in the display hall, but they only brought 2 MKZ's. The first was a non-accessible, dark grey V6 with chome wheels on a turntable and a red hybrid with darkened 19 inch wheels that was on the floor and open for everyone to inspect. Neither had the panoramic roof. Both had the light Dune/tan interiors...
this^ is why I don't own a nuclear missile (or gun)...forgot you said Boston & thought NAIAS
Still, there's not much excuse for the 2 cars having anything that major in common

...the relative paucity of wood, chrome, and contrasting materials and colors. Some blame might go to the light Dune color scheme, which I did not like at all. I felt it overwhelmed and washed out the overall design somewhat...
especially irritating since RECENT Lincolns didn't used to have that "putty" color
I *am* sure the designers did NOT choose it but had it forced on them by Approvers & beancounters

...Also disappointing were the seats...
for this there is NO EXCUSE from the company that owned Volvo (GREAT seats!)
umm
you DO like Volvo seats, don't you Iiari??
 

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Great job, Iiari!

Maybe the seats feel more comfy with the massage feature on..:thumb:

As I said a million times before - the interior is the weak spot of this car. The bespoke program needs to launch ASAP in ANY form rather than "perfect" in "a couple of years"...

If this is not taken care of, I might indeed consider getting the MKC for my mother instead...:nevreness:
 

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I drove one and found the seats to be way more comfy than the current mkz, but I like softer seats. I'm tired of overly stiff so called "supportive" seats. I agree with the perception of lower luxury in the interior. My current mkz has the optional wood through the radio and shift areas and it makes a huge difference in perception. Overall though, I did feel more comfortable than sitting in a 2013 ES for instance even though a bit lesser quality materials maybe.
 

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I drove one and found the seats to be way more comfy than the current mkz, but I like softer seats.
The seats really are a mystery to me so far because reviews vary from "superior" to "terrible". I guess I have to check them out myself. As long as they are as good as those on my MY09, that's fine with me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The seats really are a mystery to me so far because reviews vary from "superior" to "terrible". I guess I have to check them out myself. As long as they are as good as those on my MY09, that's fine with me.
Well, I'm coming from Saab seats, which I think were always some of the best in the business and my Turbo-X chairs are a wonderful mix of supple softness and support. The only seats which I thought challenged my Turbo-X seats at the show were the CTS-V, Infiniti M, and Audi A8. The Volvo S80 seats are quite nice as well (possibly the only desirable thing about that model) and they are super soft and supple, 180 degrees away from the "grab you like a glove" CTS-V Recaros.

I really didn't like the MKZ seats. They weren't even so much soft as featureless, like airline seats. Again, I've got to feel a "real" vehicle out in the world to be sure.

Overall, I preferred the MKZ design to the Lexus ES, which is really something of a mess and which has some pretty cheap plastic in prominent places on the dash. I prefer the MKZ design to the Avalon, but the Avalon has some better materials here and there. I also prefer the MKZ design to the Azera, but materials are about even... I'd put the MKZ materials above the Buicks and about equal to the Acuras, although their design philosophies are very different from those two..

But that's the problem. Note the models I'm comparing the MKZ to. As far as the Audi A6 and BMW 5 and Mercedes C, there really is no comparison. The MKZ is not in that ballpark at all in materials. The DESIGN is there, but if Lincoln could upgrade the materials a bit and add some detailing here and there (like Chrysler did with its models recently) it would be a big help.
 

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As far as the Audi A6 and BMW 5 and Mercedes C, there really is no comparison. The MKZ is not in that ballpark at all in materials. The DESIGN is there, but if Lincoln could upgrade the materials a bit and add some detailing here and there (like Chrysler did with its models recently) it would be a big help.
I'd agree with you on this. Seems more like they were going for some sort of ill placed minimalism. A few more touches and they could have done much better. Still when I look at the whole package, especially when compared to other Hybrid choices, it still wins out for me. Otherwise I would have jumped long ago since it has taken so long to build these.
 

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1st:
t.a.n.s.t.a.a.f.l.
(there ain't no such thing as a free lunch)
so if material are improved the price goes up (disproportionately imho)
but
that's just fine imho2
I *want* to see the MKZ barely 'limbo' under $40k to start
then again
I'd also add a few features standard...just to get RID of the Z's current approach to trim levels


...Seems more like they were going for some sort of ill placed minimalism...
this is could be the ONLY problem I'd place (partly) at the Designers' door

even tho I share an appreciation for some forms of minimalism,
it's too easy to go too far
imho
successful high tech-style-conceptualism must include
"high-touch" <which
is more about mental/emotional "accessibility" than materials
 

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I cannot help but think the differentiation of Lincolns from Fords was still in its infancy when the MKZ was being finalized. We know that Max had only a small hand in changing things up, so its likely that at the time the MKZ/Fusion were being designed the full differentiation of the interiors wasn't on the table. We knew when the MKZ was shown in concept form that the interiors were still very close in appearance.

Now look at the the MKC concept vs. the production Escape, totally different inside and out. Given that I believe we are seeing the evolution of Ford's plan for Lincoln, they will be completely different in all areas that can be seen or touched. I'm not sweating the unfortunate similarities between the MKZ and Fusion because I don't think that is something we will see again going forward.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Seems more like they were going for some sort of ill placed minimalism.... Especially when compared to other Hybrid choices, it still wins out for me.
this is could be the ONLY problem I'd place (partly) at the Designers' door, even tho I share an appreciation for some forms of minimalism, it's too easy to go too far

imho successful high tech-style-conceptualism must include "high-touch" <which is more about mental/emotional "accessibility" than materials
I don't think it's misplaced minimalism. There are other models pushing minimalism out there as well (the Volvo S60 and many Audis) and they feel much warmer. It's a detail issue, not a design issue.

I think 2b2 is correct here. It's an issue of the things you touch feeling and looking more special. There are bits on the ATS, the Audis, the 3-series, that you just want to reach out and fondle. The wood, the piano-black surfacing, carbon fiber, etc. There isn't much on the MKZ you want to do that with, no matter how nice the design. The center console plastic that dominates the interior doesn't feel too bespoke. The push button transmission, as one review pointed out, does indeed feel fairly pedestrian. Like any other button. Some more damping, some different appearance or lighting or something that would make it look and feel more special would be welcome. The MKZ, as a step above a Fusion, a Camry, an Accord, etc feels fine. But to go up against the ATS, the Germans, and even Infiniti it's going to need more "special" inside...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I cannot help but think the differentiation of Lincolns from Fords was still in its infancy when the MKZ was being finalized... I'm not sweating the unfortunate similarities between the MKZ and Fusion because I don't think that is something we will see again going forward.
I actually agree with you here that this is likely the case, and trust that future releases will do better with this.

I really don't make too much of this. As was pointed out by someone else earlier, I don't think any hybrid at the show offers the full package and MPG the MKZ does, and I think that will be huge. The ES/Avalon hybrids are not as appealing and the bigger makers hybrids only get you into the low 30's on the highway.

I do think the MKZ is a bit overpriced for the quality of its interior as it sits right now. If a somewhat loaded hybrid can come in at 40K rather than its current 46K and a fully loaded V6 AWD can come in right under 45K rather than right under 50K, I think Lincoln is just fine. My guess is that real world negotiating at the dealers will probably end up closer to this, just like the current model.

The thing that's painful is that it's just SOOO close. A more impressive, more special interior COULD have commanded the full price Lincoln wants. I think if Ford wishes, such MKZ detail upgrades could be done fairly quickly and relatively inexpensively. Of course, this is what they said about the Lincoln LS too, and those upgrades never came...
 

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...The thing that's painful is that it's just SOOO close. A more impressive, more special interior COULD have commanded the full price Lincoln wants. I think if Ford wishes, such MKZ detail upgrades could be done fairly quickly and relatively inexpensively. Of course, this is what they said about the Lincoln LS too, and those upgrades never came...
AMEN where's the choir smilie?
otoh
REMEMBER THE ZEPHYR!!
this car has gotten more updating than ... the entire Lincoln brand in the 90's???


I gave up judging interiors from pix and no telling when I'll see a new Z in person

but I'm not giving up judging by exterior pix so that's where I chant "so close, so close,..."
&
actually new interior materials & colors can happen way easier than my sheetmetal tweaks
in fact
many posters are griping about the lack of interior color choices on the Fusion, esp Titanium ... like they can't remember that Fusion offered 6 (SIX) color choices not long ago
& I'm convinced FoMoCo is just waiting . . . for What I have no idea but still I am Sure colors are coming for the Fusion so how can I not believe the Z will get SOMEthing too & well before the end of 2013cy



edit/crazy idea
dunno how many months remain until the 2014my Z's come out
but a special edition per month (no ordering for simplicity - almost the opposite of Bespoke) actually sounds good to me
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Off topic I know, but here is what I thought of the rest of the Boston Auto show, including Lincoln's competition. Despite being a fairly low level auto show (it gets few of the dramatic debuts of the recent NAIAS), I always find it interesting to check out the newer models and more interesting to see what show goers mob and what they ignore. So what are the state of things in 2013? Here's my humble opinion:

Acura:
- Forget the polite reviews, I think the ILX is embarrassing... I see "Civic" all over its exterior form and interior layout. If any other automaker were to do something this baldly cynical (a Sentra based Infiniti, for example) the media would crush them. Why the pass here?
- I think Acuras have the nastiest interiors in the luxury car segment. Cheap plastics everywhere with gaudy fonts and exaggerated forms abound. These interiors remind me of Aiwa boom boxes from the late 80's... Tacky, tacky...
- The new RDX cures insomnia!!

Audi:
- Frighteningly competent, consistent, and appealing despite low risk design. Also, when you option them competitively, they're frighteningly expensive...
- The A7 is the car that should have been the Saab 9-5... Still mourning Saab...
- While, again, being nothing exciting, Audi interiors are genuinely attractive and use great materials... They're not The Standard for nothing...
- How many variants and sub-variants of everything can Audi (and BMW and MB) do? The sheer depth of their product range is really terrifying... How can they make money on all of these? How can anyone else hope to compete?

BMW:
- The 6 series GC sedan is absolutely the best looking BMW in my lifetime and stunning in matte paint...
- The 3 series interior is still terribly dull, but it now nearly matches the Audi A4 for material quality. The 3's biggest liability has now been addressed. Too bad the new version now feels so big...
- Also, the 328 wagon is again, as its always been, the best looking 3 model...
- The X1's interior is dreadfully cheap but they'll still sell like hotcakes given the fawning attention they were receiving by show-goers of all ages at the BMW stand...

Buick:
- I went mostly to look at the Verano. I like its crip exterior quite a bit, not so much the monochromatic grey interior...
- I used to like the Enclave, but the refresh was not an improvement inside or out...
- The Encore pretty much looks like a Verano cooked like a kernel of popcorn. Short and tall. But it is a lot of style and value for the money. It will be interesting to see how well it sells, as well as the X1, Q3, MKC, and everything else about to ambush this class in the next few years...

Cadillac:
- This was my first time sitting in the ATS. It looks, feels, and probably is much smaller than I imagined. It's sized more like the 1999-2008 E46 BMW 3 series than the current iteration. It has absolutely great seats and a perfect driving position along with low sightlines. The dash actually feels even more futuristic than the Lincoln MKZ's due to the wider application of the haptic feedback to the steering wheel. But...
- Like the E46 interior, despite really good materials and design, the whole thing somehow feels less luxurious than it should, less appealing than the sum of its parts... I'm not sure why yet... But...
- the CUE interface is problematic. It's better designed than Ford's frustrating MyTouch system, but it's much, much slower to respond to input. There's a palpable and maddening pause after you do anything at all... Like MyTouch, Caddy can't fix this fast enough...
- The ATS too feels a tad overpriced as well. It's certainly no value compared to its competition...
- The XTS interior, however, is absolutely gorgeous and its designers need to sprinkle some of its warmth onto the ATS...
- The CTS-V is still outrageously appealing inside and out, but is now definitely feeling its age compared to the other metal around it at the show. It's also now lacking some major luxury features considered mainstream in 2013... Unfortunately, however, used CTS-V's hold their value extremely well, so there are no depreciation bargains out there as the new CTS approaches next year :(

Chevy:
- From a distance, the new Impala has a oddly compelling appeal despite having no singular standout design element, as if it exudes pheromones...
- No new Corvette at this show...
- Was the 2014 Silverado there? Was it so dull and invisible that I missed it?
- The new Chevy Spark is even cuter than the Mini. Seriously, children were flocking around it as if it were dispensing ice cream. If I were in the market for a city car, this would be totally what I'd buy...

Dodge:
- The Charger and Challenger, like always, were mobbed by show goers...
- The SRT Charger (and SRT 300C) is genuinely appealing, a true velvet fist...
- Nothing else at the Dodge stand was really appealing at all...
- This was my first time sitting in the Dodge Dart, which I've liked in photos, but which in person has a terrible dash filled with organic shaped plastic reminiscent of a late 90's Pontiac Grand Am... They need some more "Wop" input there (check Google News, folks, before you flame me)...

Ford:
- The most compelling car of the show was by far and away the Focus ST. Men of all ages just stood there slack-jawed. The Recaros in that ST look like possibly the best OEM car seats ever developed. A co-worker of mine just purchased an ST and all he does is smile dumbly when you ask him about that car. I can't wait to drive this...
- The Flex I think is one of the more unique and attractive designs on the road. I bet this will become a cult car after it's gone...

GMC:
- The "trust us, it's new" 2014 Sierra did not have a single soul looking at it during the entire time I was at the GMC stand. Just a plasticy looking brand representative looking lonely on the turntable. Now, I know this is Boston, Mass and not Butte, Montana, but still... I would have expected ONE person there. Not good for GM's new trucks...

Honda:
- The new Accord may be conservative and a fairly blatant dead-ringer for the Hyundai Genesis, but it's a pretty nicely put together Hyundai Genesis. In fact, well optioned, I have no idea why anyone would buy anything on the Acura stand over this given the new Accord looks classier, is cheaper, and feels far fresher. Again, why Acura?

Hyundai:
- Somehow, I don't remember this display very well...
- I still can't get excited about the new Azera, but it'll give the improved Toyota Avalon a serious opponent...
- The new Santa Fe is actually fairly sharp looking...

Kia:
- They were emphasizing their racing program (huh?) and had big "Made in the USA" stickers on the windows of their cars... WTF?

Infiniti:
- Buh bye current gen Infiniti G, which at this point has all the charm and class of a Nissan Sentra... I can't wait to see its replacement, even though in photos it looks like a smooshed down J..
- The M, on the other hand, is aging well and it, like the large Infiniti SUV's, has what I believe are the most sumptuous interiors at the show. If you want to feel unabashedly pampered, any non-G Infiniti interior will deliver the goods. And the M has one of the best views from the drivers seat, with sultry front wheel arches dominating the view. Raarrwww....

Lexus:
- Say what you will about the "spindle" (re:predator) grille, but you won't mistake it for anything else on the road. It *is* distinctive, if garish... For that reason, it'll sell well here in the US. Does China like garish?
- I really, REALLY dislike Lexus' new dash motif, which seems to have been inspired by the last generation BMW 5. It's VERY horizontal, curving away from the driver as it melts into the passenger door. It's anti-driver oriented. What this does is emphasize large, long swaths of plastic. Very good plastic, but plastic nevertheless. What isn't horizontal (like the vents) has a post-industrial, "constructed" feel to it, like it's made from pieces of a Connect Four board. In the ES, this somehow feels particularly cheap. While in other models material quality can be markedly better, especially in the GS and LS, it never feels particularly warm or "luxurious" to me... I never thought I'd say it, but I miss the boring old Lexus interiors that looked like melted chocolate, butter, and cream...
- BTW, in the battle of overkill information systems, Lexus' was easily the most annoying of the show. Basically, it's a mouse built into the armrest, and a cheap Logitech feeling mouse at that. It blazes through a blizzard of onscreen options that have probably caused 3 car accidents alone just as you've been reading this...

Mazda:
- You heard it from me first - The new Mazda 6 is the best looking car on the road, period. I mean, the front clip of this sedan is pure automotive sex. Tragically, though, this stunner has the dash of a 2000-era Isuzu Rodeo... Flat, blocky, "insert stereo here" dash design. If this car had the Accord's or Optima's interior, it would be unstoppable. As it is now, it's as if Christina Hendricks had breast reduction surgery. She'd still be gorgeous, but the whole package would be missing that special something, no? Still, the 6 is totally worthwhile to look at for its US diesel option if no other reason.

Mercedes Benz:
- They're like the anti-Lincoln. Where the MKZ needs to sweat the details some more, MB is basically throwing the entire sweat drenched kitchen sink at every aspect of their cars. Every gauge, headlamp cluster, character line, headrest... All of it is just dripping with overthink. It's painful how hard MB is trying to impress you, how hard they're trying to beat you to a pulp with how damn superior they are. Oh, how I long for the days of supremely engineered MB understatement...
- I still don't understand why people swoon at the sight of MB E-Classes at auto shows.. I... Just... Don't... Understand...

Mitsubishi, Nissan, Mini:
- I frankly didn't care enough at this point to visit the first two, and there were so many discarded Mini promo items left everywhere by show goers that I boycotted them in protest...

Scion:
- Relevant in my mind only because of the FR-S, which should be sold as a Toyota here in my opinion... It's not my cup of tea... The interior's too kit car, the exterior too fussy, but boy does it look like a ton of fun... In my mind, though, go a bit more mature and buy a Focus ST...

Subaru:
- Strangely, the stand was absolutely empty in Subie crazy New England... This may be because they were stuffed in the rear corner of the exhibition hall...
- I still don't understand why Subaru and Scion haven't taken **** for badge engineering the BRZ and FR-S...
- I can't believe Subaru is still a relevant automaker given how their interiors feel at least a decade behind everyone else. They are truly the brand for people who hate cars...

Toyota:
- The new Avalon actually has some curb appeal. The interior isn't nearly as radical as Toyota is pretending it is, but I'll say this - It's MUCH better than its sibling the Lexus ES, which isn't nearly as warm or cohesive inside. Amazingly, the new Avalon has rendered the stalwart ES obsolete inside and out. The frugal hybrid is the one to buy...

Volvo:
- I don't like the vibe at the Volvo stand. I'm having bad Saab fashbacks... A perfectly nice mid-range S60, with good plastics, IKEA-lite interior, and sprinkled with a few options was impressing a guy sitting in the driver's seat. So far so good. The guy gets out and then looks at the sticker... 45K+?!? Ack! Off he went to the Audi stand... Where was that A4 again?
- Like Saab, Volvo needs to decide who they're competing against. Is it Acura and Buick? Then they need to both up their game and lower their prices... If it's BMW and Audi? Then they need to kick their game up into the stratosphere, do a full-on IKEA interior, and keep their prices where they are. volvo brand manager may be the toughest job in the biz right now in my opinion...

VW:
- Their success in this market still shocks me. I guess I understand why stolid fare like the Passat and Jetta sell given how over-the-top and tortured auto design is becoming everywhere else. If you don't want a instrument panel that looks like it's inspired by jellyfish or a Connect Four board, then yeah, VW's for you...
- Amazingly, the new Beetle's chop top roof DOES make the car more masculine. Who knew?
 

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AMEN where's the choir smilie?

I gave up judging interiors from pix and no telling when I'll see a new Z in person
I did drive one of the Hybrids on the tour and yes unfortunately there is a bit too much plastic for my taste on the console. For me, it probably the biggest flaw. Didn't keep me from ordering one though.
 

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Off topic I know, but here is what I thought of the rest of the Boston Auto show, including Lincoln's competition.
Well you saved me a trip to the auto show. Actually, I found your comments quite useful. How does the Avalon interior compare to the MKZ? It seems like it has a puny sized LED screen, but more soft surfaces and a bit less plastic. What about the seats? The wheels seems small though at max 18" I think.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
How does the Avalon interior compare to the MKZ? It seems like it has a puny sized LED screen, but more soft surfaces and a bit less plastic. What about the seats? The wheels seems small though at max 18" I think.
I think it's quite different from the MKZ. While subjective, I think the MKZ was more attractive. The interior materials quality was, overall, quite similar between the MKZ and Avalon. The MKZ has a much more upscale interior design overall, while the materials on the dash in front of you though have a better tactile feel on the Avalon. That plastic on the center console around the screen in the MKZ is indeed the interior's biggest flaw. The Avalon's screen is indeed very small, if that matters, but that does give it more of an economy car feel while the MKZ's dash is overall much more upscale. I wasn't thrilled by the MKZ seats as I've said, but I don't think the Avalon's were great either, so it's a wash there.

The Avalon, though, looks like it has a cohesive, planned look inside and out, while the sister Lexus ES is just a mess, looking like a design by committee in all regards. Again, though, I preferred the MKZ's more distinctive exterior overall. If you're considering the Avalon, take a look at the Azera, which I preferred, or the Impala, which I liked more than all of them (save the MKZ). Hope that helps.

BTW: I just went to the Lincoln site and built a loaded hybrid (sans panoramic roof, which is really extremely expensive) for about $45,500. Not bad, but I still think it's about 2-3K too high. If that gets down to closer to 42K (which I think with dealer incentives and other things it eventually will) I think it's a real winner. A 2.0 AWD loaded (sans panoramic roof) is about $47.5, which I think is also about 3K too high. Interestingly, the hybrid gets 45 MPG (although judging by Fusion reports, real world is closer to 35-37-ish highway) while a 2.0 AWD is about 31 highway and they are priced pretty similarly. If that is the reality, I'm not sure a hybrid is worth 4-6 MPG while giving up AWD (in New England where I live) for about the same money. If the hybrid really is closer to 45 MPG, well, then it's not a contest. For nearing 50K with V6 and AWD (sans panoramic roof), I think that's pretty tough to justify at that pricing level...
 

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BTW, I think the technology package is about $2500 to $3000 for things like parking assist, lane departure, and rain sensing wipers. That strikes me as a lot for those features while something that strikes me as really useful (inflating rear belts) was like $200. Does anyone know how much similar technology packages are on other models?

I'd rather they roll the technology package into the top two trim levels, thus make it up by volume, and shave $1500 or so off the overall price.
 

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I went to the Detroit NAIAS yesterday and sat in both the MKZ and Fusion and I liked just about everything about the Ford better than the Lincoln. I wish the S-H-O TT V6 drivetrain was offered in the Ford but I'd settle for a 300+hp turbo 2.3L I4 with AWD in Fusion S-H-O. The Fusion is just plain beautiful.
 
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