Cars.com Reviews the 2013 Lincoln MKZ

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Getting back into the luxury game could be a tricky proposition for Lincoln, Ford's last brand standing after the economic downturn of recent years. But Cars.com reviewer Aaron D. Bragman says if the all-new 2013 MKZ sedan is an indicator of what's to come, a triumphant return could be nigh. Sweeping exterior styling succeeds in evoking a high-end image, while a new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder provides impressive power for all occasions without sacrificing fuel economy. Although the interior looks great, cheap vehicle controls undermine the design quality. Read Bragman's review below.

2013 Lincoln MKZ Review
By Matt Schmitz | July 22, 2013 | Comments (0)

Ford Hybrids To Get Mileage Boost After Complaints

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Beginning in August, Ford will recalibrate various drivetrain, climate-control and accessory systems to improve real-world gas mileage in the 2013 C-Max Hybrid, 2013 Fusion Hybrid and 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. The changes should help drivers "see the most improvement at highway speeds, during air conditioner use and operation in colder climates," product development chief Raj Nair said in a statement.

The move comes amid widespread complaints that Ford's hybrids aren't hitting their lofty EPA marks: 47 mpg combined for the C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid and 45 mpg for the MKZ Hybrid. The automaker faces at least two class-action lawsuits over too-high mileage claims. In December 2012, Consumer Reports said the C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid fell well short of their 47 mpg EPA figures during the magazine's metered tests. And in February 2013, the EPA said it would review how it tests hybrids — and scrutinize Ford's numbers in particular.

Changes include:

By Kelsey Mays | July 18, 2013 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 2013 Lincoln MKZ

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Ford is recalling 107 model-year 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedans due to a problem with the electrical system that could result in exposed wiring, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Affected vehicles were manufactured between April 25, 2012, and March 15, 2013, and are equipped with an engine block heater. During use, the engine block heater cords may be bent, and in certain temperatures the wire insulation may crack, exposing the electrical wires; this increases the risk of electric shock.

Ford will begin notifying owners June 17, and dealers will replace the block heater cord for free. Owners can call the automaker at 866-436-7332 or the NHTSA's vehicle safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

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Recall Alert: 420,000 Ford Sedans, SUVs

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By Matt Schmitz | June 11, 2013 | Comments (2)

May's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

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From Land Rover's posh Range Rover to the redesigned Toyota RAV4, SUVs took 10 of the top 16 spots on May’s fastest-sellers list. Expectedly, redesigns ranked high on the list. The 2014 Subaru Forester is selling so fast Subaru dealers can't keep up inventory, and the Range Rover, Hyundai Santa Fe and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class — all redesigned — have repeat appearances among the fastest sellers.

The updated Mercedes E-Class demonstrates shoppers also respond well to a refresh as they do to a full redesign. And the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid continues to sell, adding steam to the redesign's slow start. It worked well for Ford's struggling luxury brand: The MKZ had its best-ever May in the nameplate's more than seven years, Ford said Monday.

Then you have the old-timers. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 had its fifth month among the fastest-selling cars. The 2013 Ford Fusion, in hybrid or regular form, has made its seventh appearance in eight months. So did Audi's Q5 SUV, despite being in its fifth model year.

Cars in May averaged 56 days to sell. That's a little slower than April 2013's 51 days and a few ticks slower than May 2012's 50 days. Here are May's fastest and slowest sellers:

By Kelsey Mays | June 4, 2013 | Comments (2)

Recall Alert: 420,000 Ford Sedans, SUVs

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Ford is recalling more than 420,000 model-year 2013 sedans and SUVs to check for fuel-tank leaks that could result in a fire; affected models include the 2013 Ford Fusion, Flex, Explorer, Taurus and Police Interceptor sedans and SUVs, as well as the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, MKS and MKT. In addition, Ford also announced two more separate recalls to address problems with engine-block heater cords in 500 model-year 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedans and steering gears in a small number of 2013 Ford Fusion sedans.

In the largest of the recalls, as of March 31, Ford had received 600 consumer complaints pertaining to potential leaks in the vehicles' fuel-delivery module, which could result in a fire. Ford said there had been no reports of fires or injuries as a result of the leaks.

"The condition could result in customers detecting an odor of fuel, or in some cases, observe evidence of a fuel leak on the ground," said Kelli Felker, Ford safety communications manager, in a statement. "While a fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may result in a fire, there have been no reports of fires. We are not aware of any accidents or injuries attributed to this condition."

By Matt Schmitz | June 3, 2013 | Comments (0)

Two (Hundred) If By Sea: Crossing Lake Michigan on a Car Ferry

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The Memorial Day holiday marks the official start of summer for many people, kicking off a season full of road trips for family vacations in far-off destinations. I recently took a bit of a driving tour myself, from the Cars.com Detroit Bureau home office in Ann Arbor, Mich., to the annual Spring Rally of the Midwest Automotive Media Association at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. My ride for the voyage: the new 2013 Lincoln MKZ, Ford's great hope for trying to keep the struggling luxury brand relevant and appealing to young premium segment shoppers.

But instead of taking the meandering road route around Lake Michigan through Indiana, Chicago and Milwaukee and on to Elkhart Lake, I decided to try one of the two car ferries running from Michigan to Wisconsin, crossing the lake and shaving miles (but not necessarily hours) off my trip.

By Aaron Bragman | May 31, 2013 | Comments (1)

April's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

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April's fastest-selling cars mixed luxury models with recent redesigns and, oddly enough, a few oldies. The Audi Q5 and Q7 — frequent speedy sellers despite their age — met the likes of the BMW X3, Land Rover Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and Lincoln MKZ. A couple 2014 redesigns also made the list: the Subaru Forester and Chevrolet Impala.

It's good news for Ford's Lincoln division, whose redesigned MKZ has been hampered by production setbacks during its launch. Both the MKZ and MKZ Hybrid were among April's fastest-selling cars, reprising the cars' March appearance — but with a key difference. As we reported on April 2, March's brisk sales pace didn't translate into higher sales, but that changed in April. Lincoln shoppers bought 4,012 MKZs and MKZ Hybrids, up 115.4% versus April 2012. It was the best month in the nameplate's seven-year history, Ford proclaimed.

A few oddball cars often land among the fastest sellers, and April was no exception. The current Scion xB hatchback hit dealerships in May 2007 while Nissan introduced the current Frontier pickup truck at the 2004 Detroit auto show. In car years, the elder Nissan is somewhere between actors Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer — and it hasn't aged as well. But the Frontier and xB spent little time on dealer lots in April, and both have minimal incentives. Go figure.

April's slowest sellers document the continuing sales trickle for two cars: the Acura ILX Hybrid and Chevrolet Malibu Eco. Both variants make up a good chunk of their respective nameplates in Cars.com new-car inventory, but they took 150 and 229 days, respectively, to move. Contrast that with April's 51-day monthly average, which stayed about even with March (48 days) but came in a bit slower than April 2012's 45 days.

Here are March's fastest and slowest sellers:

By Kelsey Mays | May 2, 2013 | Comments (1)

March's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

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We won't have March sales results until later today, but the month's fastest- and slowest-selling cars depict that a couple automakers are catching a break. With a faster-charging option, more cargo space and a lower starting price, the 2013 Nissan Leaf landed a spot among March's fastest-selling cars — this after meeting less than half of Nissan's sales expectations in 2011 and 2012. In March, the all-electric hatchback averaged just seven days to sell. Leaf sales increased 13% through February, so we'll see if Nissan's little EV pulled off an automotive Florida Gulf Coast University last month — or if the faster pace drove few actual sales.

Meanwhile, the redesigned Lincoln MKZ, which was beleaguered by a slow ramp-up in dealer supply, also hit its stride. Lincoln dealers needed just 14 days on average to sell an MKZ. That beat rivals like the Lexus ES 350 (35 days, on average) and Acura TL (50 days). Other movers include the usual slate of redesigns, from the redesigned Subaru Forester to Toyota's fourth-generation RAV4. Flagship luxury SUVs had their day, too: Mercedes-Benz's GL-Class marked its sixth month on the list, and Land Rover's Range Rover flagship had its third.

Despite a cooler March versus last year's record warmth, SUVs represented a similar share of the month's fastest-selling cars. Nine of March's 17 fastest-selling cars were SUVs; that's about even with March 2012, when eight of 17 fast sellers were SUVs.

By Kelsey Mays | April 2, 2013 | Comments (4)

Five New Cars Earn IIHS Top Safety Pick+

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Well, that was a quick turnaround. Just seven months after eight of 11 luxury cars blew the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's new small-overlap frontal test, all five cars in the latest IIHS small-overlap test scored Acceptable or Good — the top two of four possible scores.

The 2014 Mazda6 sedan, 2013 Honda Civic Coupe and Civic Sedan, 2013 Volvo XC60 SUV and 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedan passed IIHS' most challenging frontal test, which simulates a 40-mph impact with a rigid barrier that overlaps just 25% of the front of a car. All five cars earned IIHS' Top Safety Pick+ ("plus") honor, a rank above Top Safety Pick status.

IIHS said in 2012 that some 10,000 annual highway deaths in the U.S. occur from frontal collisions, and nearly a quarter of those occur because of so-called small overlap situations.

The 2013 MKZ is the first car that documents an automaker's improvement in the same test. In August 2012, its predecessor scored poorly, allowing a belted crash-test dummy to careen toward the A-pillar rather than the front airbag. The redesigned MKZ offered better front-airbag protection, earning the car an Acceptable score. The Mazda6 scored Acceptable, too.

By Kelsey Mays | March 7, 2013 | Comments (0)

Lincoln Expects 2013 MKZ Supply to Hit Full Speed by April

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Looking for Lincoln's redesigned 2013 MKZ or MKZ Hybrid that you saw advertised during the Super Bowl? You might have to wait a while. Cars.com national inventory has just 781 new 2013 MKZs in stock. That’s a drought compared to the rival Acura TL and Lexus ES, which each have more than 6,000 new 2013 sedans on Cars.com.

Blame a slow ramp up for the redesigned car, which went on sale late last year. The Detroit News reports Lincoln dealers should have enough cars to sell by April.

Those dealers sold just 453 MKZs in January. That's down 73% from January 2012 when the midsize luxury sedan was Lincoln's best-selling model. The plunge hobbled Lincoln sales to a 32-year low, notes Ward's Auto via Bloomberg News. The torpid sales pace came because Lincoln heightened its quality inspections, Ford sales chief Ken Czubay told Bloomberg on Feb. 1.

By Kelsey Mays | February 11, 2013 | Comments (3)

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