A Luxury Sedan That Won’t Break the Bank

And a proper restaurant-and-car pairing, too.

Inside Pocantico Hills are the lush green expanses of Rockefeller land, acres preserved and/or donated by the oil baron’s trust. At the tenderloin lies the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a bucolic organic farm practicing four-season agriculture. The foundation converted the dairy barns, which date back to the 1930s, into an education center and, notably, the three-star (New York Times) restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Dan Barber. And it’s here that I recently steered Lincoln’s reasonably priced luxury cruiser, the MKZ, over the winding roads.

Pairing restaurants with cars isn’t a conventional pastime, but I’ve done it more than once. The last time I rolled up these paths, I helmed the Bentley Flying Spur, a British cruiser that chalks up a $250,000+ price tag. That day, I stopped in for a short respite, not to dine. I did not valet the car, much to the attendant’s disappointment. This time, leaving the MKZ at the stand, ready for a meal hosted by the car’s maker, the valet had the good pleasure of driving a notable vehicle — in its respective class.

2017 Lincoln MKZ Specs

Engine: 2.0-liter GTDI I-4 (optional: 3.0-liter GTDI V6)
Transmission: Six-Speed SelectShift automatic
Horsepower: 245 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 275 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Fuel Economy: 21/31/24 (city/highway/combined)
MSRP: $36,920 (base)
MSRP: $54,000 (as tested)

At a fifth of the cost of the Flying Spur, the MKZ doesn’t feel like a gross reduction of luxury. The team at Lincoln worked to fulfill the mantra of “quiet luxury,” and they’re hitting the marks. When I first walked around the car, in November 2015, I wrote that it fulfilled “the presence of luxury born in Detroit.” And that runs true, for the good. Features found on the more expensive luxury models — Mercedes, BMW, Bentley, Lexus — build up the $36,920 starting price, but don’t skyrocket to unattainable levels.

The MKZ I drove on that cerulean day coddled me with a seat massage (better, I might add, than any I’ve felt); controlled the wheel with adaptive cruise control and gentle, non-jarring lane correction; and spoiled with the panoramic roof, ambient light and a Revel sound system. In all, Detroit’s caught on to what the luxury market’s been doing for years, sans a gas-guzzling beast under the hood. The MKZ’s clean lines and mature styling (long gone are the days of the “big-winged” grille) will, the next time it steers in the drive at Stone Barns, have the valets jostling to be the one to open that driver’s-side door.

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