Premium midsize car; Built in Mexico
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $9,200 – $30,700*

2006 Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ

2006 Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ

2006 Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ

2007 Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ

  • Control layout
  • Handling
  • Passenger room
  • Quietness
  • Ride
  • Cargo room
  • Maneuverability
  • Seat comfort (front-seat while cornering)

Acura’s TL is sportier and the Lexus ES 330, which Lincoln targeted with the Zephyr, is more refined. Still, with its smooth ride and upscale appointments, Lincoln’s appealingly-priced newest model serves as an appealing first rung on the luxury ladder. As a premium midsize sedan that tilts toward comfort rather than sportiness, Zephyr’s MKZ successor aims even more squarely at Lexus. And it’s a good match for roominess, quietness, and overall performance, augmented by available all-wheel drive. Yes, an ES is not only more refined, but has a more established reputation for reliability. But Lincolns cost considerably less secondhand. Absence of an antiskid system, though, is an embarrassing omission in the premium midsize car category.


Lincoln introduced its smallest car ever for 2006, borrowing its name from a Lincoln model of the 1930s. Equipped with a V12 engine, that early-day Zephyr had given Lincoln–then known mainly for costly luxury motorcars–a first-time presence in the family-sedan market.

Younger buyers were the target audience for the revived Zephyr. Sized and priced below Lincoln’s rear-wheel-drive LS (which soon would expire), the “entry-level” 2006 Zephyr was essentially a luxury-equipped version of the new front-drive Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan midsize sedans. All three shared their basic architecture with the Mazda 6 from Ford’s Japanese affiliate, but the Zephyr weighed about 300 pounds more than a Fusion or Milan.

Considered a midsize sedan, the 2006 Zephyr came in a single trim level that included a 221-horsepower V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment included antilock braking, traction control, 17-inch alloy wheels, front torso side airbags, and head-protecting curtain side airbags. Leather upholstery and dual-zone climate control were included, too.

Only six options were offered. Available were chrome wheels, xenon headlamps, a sunroof, heated/cooled front seats, and a navigation system. Lincoln said the Zephyr could tow more than 3500 pounds. Zephyr’s rivals included the Acura TL, Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G35, and Lexus ES 330/350.

Yearly Updates

2007 MKZ
To the surprise of many, in the industry as well as potential buyers, Lincoln changed the name of its latest sedan from Zephyr to MKZ for the 2007 model year. All-wheel drive was newly available, styling was revised, and a larger V6 engine produced 42 more horsepower–now rated at 263. The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan stuck with the prior 221-hp V6. The new front end featured a refined “waterfall” grille, and the MKZ rode on new 17-inch, eight-spoke machined aluminum wheels.
2008 MKZ
The 2008 Lincoln MKZ got a few new standard features. Previously optional rear obstacle detection and heated and ventilated front seats became standard on the 2008 MKZ.
2009 MKZ
MKZ gained an antiskid system as a newly-standard safety feature.
2010 MKZ
The 2010 Lincoln MKZ received freshened exterior and interior styling and some new features. Newly offered on the 2010 Lincoln MKZ was blind-spot alert. The system also incorporates Ford’s “Cross Traffic Alert,” which activates when the transmission is in reverse; it detects any traffic moving toward the vehicle. Also new for 2010 was the Sport Appearance Package, which includes a sport suspension, 18-inch wheels, and specific interior and exterior trim.
2011 MKZ
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ lineup gained a gas/electric hybrid model. Otherwise, this premium-midsize sedan saw no major changes. The Hybrid is front-wheel drive and pairs a 2.5-liter gasoline 4-cylinder engine with a battery-powered electric motor for 191 horsepower total. It can run on one or both of its power sources to balance acceleration and fuel economy. No plug-in charging is required. The Hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaves much like an automatic.
2012 MKZ
There were no changes of note to the 2012 Lincoln MKZ.


transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

When the Zephyr debuted for 2006, it held a 221-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. As the name changed to MKX for 2007, a 3.5-liter V6 replaced the 3.0-liter, now developing 263 horsepower. Added for 2011 was a Hybrid model with a 2.5-liter four cylinder paired with an electric motor for 191 horsepower, driving through a CVT automatic transmission.

dohc I4/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 191
Engine Torque (lb-ft) NA
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
CVT automatic



dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 221
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 205
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic



dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Engine HP 263
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 249
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


Road Test

Zephyr provides good passing and merging power, but lacks the around-town punch of an Acura TL or Lexus ES 330. Too often, it requires heavy-throttle application in routine driving. An AWD MKZ delivers plenty of ready power for most any situation-confidently strong for highway passing and merging. In either installation, the smooth, responsive six-speed automatic makes the most of available power, but a manual-shift mode would be helpful, especially for hilly terrain. The MKZ Hybrid’s powertrain is very well integrated, providing smooth transitions between electric only and gas/electric power. The CVT can be slow to react to throttle inputs, meaning you need to plan ahead for passing and merging maneuvers.

AWD Zephyrs averaged 21.0-21.4 mpg in mixed city/highway driving. A Hybrid averaged 30.4 mpg. Lincoln recommends regular 87-octane fuel for all engines.

Lincoln tuned the Zephyr’s suspension to favor ride over handling. Though not quite as isolated from minor impacts as an ES 330’s, it’s smooth and composed, with little float or wallow over highway swells. The MKZ provides an impressive blend of firm control and bump absorption, taking highway-speed dips and humps with only a trace of wallow/float.

Not as sporty as a TL, the Zephyr is a good match for Lexus’ ES 330. Steering in both the Zephyr and MKZ is precise, but a bit overassisted for a somewhat artificial feel, coupled with isolation from the road. Some noseplow may be noted in sharp, fast turns, but no undue body lean. All-wheel drive in an MKZ quells most torque-steer and furnishes secure all-weather traction. A wide turning circle makes tight maneuverability a chore. Unavailability of an antiskid system is a deficit in this class.

Road noise and wind rush are well muted in the Zephyr, though an ES 330 is quieter overall. The Zephyr’s Lincoln-tuned V6 is more refined-sounding at full throttle than the same engine in a Fusion or Milan. Quietness just may be the MKZ’s defining asset. Wind is hushed even at 70 mph, and tires are heard only on the coarsest surfaces. The 3.5-liter V6 emits a pleasant hum while cruising, but growls during rapid acceleration. The Hybrid is perhaps the quietest of the bunch. There’s some mild electrical whirring on deceleration, but that’s to be expected on a vehicle such as this.

Zephyr gauges are large and easy to read. Look-alike climate and audio controls require familiarization, but are logically located. Switchgear responds with positive, quality feel. In the MKZ, the squared-off Lincoln-retro dashboard shape, minor rearrangement of controls, and some upscale materials help distinguish the interior from Fusion/Milan. Unfortunately, the MK retains its siblings’ hard-surfaced center console, button-rich, low-set climate-system panel, plus an awkward-to-reach turn-signal lever. The navigation system’s controls are small and poorly marked. Cabin materials and assembly quality impress on the whole, though there’s no abundance of soft-touch dash or door panels.

Six-footers get ample front head and legroom, though the sunroof housing limits head clearance. Seats are a rewarding blend of soft padding and comfortable backrest contours, tempting for long trips; but the cushion is too flat and yielding to provide the best support in turns. High-set seats combine with a low dashtop and low windowsills for fine outward views. Rear headroom is adult-adequate, coupled with good toe space. Knee room is tight with front seats more than halfway back, but the seat is firm and nicely contoured. Relatively long doors ease entry/exit, but can be a hassle in close quarters.

Though usefully cubic-shaped, trunks lack height for tall boxes. Like Fusion/Milan, they use a cut-rate, cheap-feeling, felt-type liner. The trunklid’s strut hinges do not intrude. Small bins and pockets limit total cabin storage space.


Model Tested: 2006 Lincoln Zephyr

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 7
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 5


Value - 6

Total: 59


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.4 190.5 72.2 57.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.8 20.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.7 37.8 42.3 37.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2007 MKZ w/side airbags 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 4


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Blower motor
Description: The blower may occasionally only work on high speed due to a defective motor.(2006)
Description: A wire in the seat bolster may wear through the foam and seat cover. (2006)
Description: The climate controlled seats may quit working due to a glitch in the control module. (2006)
Steering problems
Description: Power steering fluid may leak from the banjo bolt fittings at the pump and/or rack-and-pinion assembly for which stronger bolts (and sealing washers) are available. (2006)
Description: The headliner gets wet due to a leak in the moon roof. (2006)
Vehicle noise
Description: Squeaks or creaking noises from the front end may be due to broken welds on the subframe assembly. (2006)
Description: It is possible to leave the headlight switch between two positions whereupon the headlights will stay on until the battery saver function kicks in after 10 minutes. (2006)

Recall History

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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