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Roseville, Calif. – The quest still remains for Lincoln. While European and Japanese auto manufacturers continue to be dominant in the entry-level luxury sedan category, all Lincoln wants now is a little piece of the pie.

The luxury division of Ford has been trying to make some headway in this category for decades. Success is modest, but the move is underway for the Lincoln MKZ to steal a few luxury buyers.

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The entry-level sedan competition is pretty fierce and includes the Lexus ES 350, Cadillac ATS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Acura TLX, Audi A4, Volvo S60 and BMW 3 Series.

We test drove the 2017 Lincoln MKZ recently for a week and came away impressed. New this year is a bold face that gives the MKZ a Continental-inspired front end that adds even more appeal to an already attractive sedan. We also like that the MKZ provides a smooth, quiet ride, powerful engine, and many standard features.

2017 Lincoln MKZ

* Performance: turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 245 horsepower; hybrid 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 188 horsepower; turbocharged 3.0-liter, V6, 350 horsepower (400 horsepower available as well);
* Mileage estimate: 21-31 mpg; 38-41 mpg; 18-27 mpg  
* Price estimate: $35,170 to $49,720
* Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance: 6 years/70,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited

Offered in three trims – Premiere, Select and Reserve – the base model (Premiere) includes the following standard features: adaptive xenon headlights; rear parking sensors; LED taillights; keyless entry and ignition; dual-zone automatic climate control; leatherette upholstery; 10-way-adjustable front seats with heating; memory settings driver seat; 60/40-split-folding rear seat with ski pass-through; leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; auto-dimming rearview mirror; Sync 3 infotainment interface; 8-inch touchscreen display; 11-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio, two USB ports, and audio input jack.

There are decisions to make in regards to the MKZ’s performance. One can max out with the V6 model, enjoy the turbocharged MKZ, or go for the more practical hybrid.

We prefer the middle-of-the-road standard engine, a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that generates 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. The mileage is an estimated 21-31 mpg, which is about the average for the entry-level sedan class. The hybrid features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that interacts with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. The combined horsepower is 188 and mileage is an impressive 40-41 mpg.

For performance lovers, the other turbocharged model is a 3.0-liter, V6 that puts out 350 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. There’s an all-wheel drive option with 400 horsepower. Estimated fuel economy is 21-28 mpg.

Although the Lincoln MKZ is lighter and offers less precision handling than some of its rivals, the driver will still experience a strong feel for the road. The combination of driving acumen and performance makes for an enjoyable overall ride.

Lincoln added a new center console to the MKZ interior. It also replaced the controversial MyLincoln Touch with the latest Synch 3 interface that is not only quicker but easier to master climate and audio controls. We personally like that Lincoln went back to the time-honored tuning, volume and climate control knobs. 

The front seats are comfortable and allow for adjustments to individual needs. The back seat can be problematic for taller people due to the sloping roofline. However, leg room is generous and so is the trunk space of 15.4 cubic feet (hybrid models are 11.1 cubic feet).

There are plenty of reasons to like the 2017 Lincoln MKZ. It may not reside at the top, but it deserves a spot among a sizable list of good entry-level luxury sedans.

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