One year and six months ago, I lost the love of my life. After years of faithful service, my 1996 Saturn took its own life in spectacular fashion. Instead of jumping into another “relationship,” I opted to spend a year off-road and, for once, take my time choosing a nice, new vehicle. In the months ahead, I’ll be reviewing the cars that are vying to fill the big, worn-out shoes my Saturn left behind. I hope you’ll come along for the ride . . .
Here?s the thing about me: I?m not accustomed to luxury. I?ve never been in its lap, so it feels unfamiliar to me. I am comfortable, even happy, with the simple things.
Or so I thought.
Because here?s another thing about me: apparently I can be swayed.
As I mentioned in my introductory column last week, I spent seven happy years with a well-used Saturn sedan. Now that it?s time to replace it, I find myself gravitating towards comfortable, middle-class vehicles, because that?s what I know. But then one day an ad for a sultry, seductive Lincoln MKZ stopped me in my tracks.
Wow, I thought. That?s hot. (?You like that?? an inner voice whispered, curling in my ear like smoke. ?Why don?t you take one for a test drive??)
Within a week, there I am, behind the wheel.
?Okay, pretty boy, let?s see if you live up to your reputation,? I say nonchalantly, but I can already feel myself falling under its spell.
For starters, the Lincoln MKZ just looks good.
It?s got a sweet grille, a sassy backside, a panoramic roof that slides back like something straight out of Iron Man III. Then there?s that ?LINCOLN? sign on the floor that lights up when you open the door and makes you feel like you?re walking into a nightclub. Pretty sexy stuff.
Once you get inside, its bucket seats pull you close, cupping your body like a hand. But I can?t help thinking the leather on both the seats and the steering wheel could be a little lusher, because let?s face it, I was lured here on the promise of luxury. I expect to feel butter beneath my skin.
Next, I hook up my phone and call a friend. Because if you?re going to have a Lincoln MKZ in your possession for a few days, you want people to know about it. Alas, the bluetooth feature is a bit of a wimp. The sound quality is poor (a failing I soon learn is common to almost every automaker), and my friend keeps saying, ?What? I can?t hear you!? Eventually, she even hangs up on me. (Note to self: Ex-friend.)
However, one mustn?t be too superficial. We?re talking prospective life partner here; it?s character that will make or break this union. So I start the car up and take it for the first of many spins.
I notice heads turning as we pass other cars or pull up to stop lights, and I kind of love it. Once we hit the highway, I give in to the powerful urge to drop the pedal and the MKZ leaps forward with ease. I kind of love that, too.
Over the course of the next few days, the MKZ and I see a lot of each other. We hit the city, we hit the country, we do the highways and the backroads. We drive to Kitchener to visit my daughter.
?Whoa, Mamacita, you look good in that sweet car!? she gushes.
As the days wear on, most of the minor disappointments fade away and some surprises come to light. It?s great on gas, for example, with lots of leg room up front and a trunk you could easily fit two bodies in. Not that I would ever need to do that. In fact, why did I even mention it? Just forget I said that.
Perhaps most endearingly, the MKZ is very protective. It?s totally devoted to my safety.
The blind-spot lights on the sideview mirrors quickly become so indispensible I can?t believe they aren?t mandatory. The headlights are the brightest I?ve ever encountered and the parking-assist camera is constantly alerting me to things I would normally run over and then shriek about afterwards.
At this point in our relationship I?m ready to push it a little further, so I decide to play around with its shift paddles. Alas, they aren?t in the mood. They don?t really let you open ?er up and do what you want with them; they seem to want to lock you in at a certain speed.
I feel like I?ve been teased. ?Where are your cojones, boy?? I chide.
But by the time we get home, I?m already over it. There?s more to a guy than the size of his paddles, I figure, and this one has plenty of other good qualities.
So is the Lincoln MKZ long-term relationship material? Well, it?s not quite the luxury ride I was expecting, but it?s fun and safe and sensuous and it makes my pulse race. Let?s just say I?ll be keeping its name in my little black book.
?Heart? score: 7.9 out of 10
Price: $41,700 base, ($51,555 loaded with technology package, panoramic roof and more)
Follow Marie Sutherland?s reviews online at Wheels.ca
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