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Edmunds Tests Zephyr

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Pretty good article...

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Despite its origins at Ford's West Coast design center, the exterior is refreshingly un-hip. Restrained, but far from dull, it's not derivative. Mercifully lacking in pretensions, it doesn't try to be anything other than an adult. The bread-slicer grille comes across much more aggressive in the flesh than in photos.

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Like its name, the Zephyr's interior design evokes neoclassic themes. With arcs and circles to set off the overtly rectilinear motif, the cockpit looks almost Palladian. The optional THX sound system is the first of its kind on the market.

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The DOHC, 24-valve V6 is an impressively smooth operator. With 221 hp on hand and plenty of midrange torque, it's a perfect complement to the standard six-speed automatic transmission. For quick squirts through slow traffic, sustained high-speed running or launching from an on-ramp, the powertrain is flexible and responsive.

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Mounted on a subframe, the front suspension offers excellent noise and vibration isolation yet still provides plenty of precision and high-quality feedback. Well-administered tuning has massaged out all traces of bump-steer, brake dive and torque steer.

Cocked and Locked for a Younger Demographic
By Tony Assenza
Date posted: 10-26-2005

In the post-modern world, the name Zephyr has zero resonance. The word is a throwback to a time when Classicism was taught in schools and new-fangled home appliances like toasters and belt-driven washers had names like Prometheus and Brobdingnag. These days, most people will probably confuse "Zephyr," a soft, warm breeze, with "Zamphir," the pan flute guy, a "musician" who can ruin with mindless energy everything from Abba to Wagner.

If you're old enough to remember Zamphir, but not so old as to think he was actually pretty cool, then you're probably smack in the middle of the 2006 Lincoln Zephyr demographic. The name probably won't start a single-handed revival of the Classics, but it will probably go a long way toward rejuvenating the Lincoln brand. Picking this ancient moniker is an oddly counterintuitive move. Zephyr is a 70-year-old nameplate that was originally lifted from a streamlined locomotive. Hardly the image you would contemplate to seduce a generation of younger buyers. The only people excited about locomotives these days are the ones who stall their pickups at a grade crossing. The smart money would have said to go with something hip and urban. Or at the very least something that doesn't bring up images of Byron and the Lake Poets. Somehow though, it all sort of fits. The retro name, the classic touches like the analog clock front and center on the dash, and restrained styling all hang together. It's classic in the manner of a Wright Prairie Style house. Strong lines, a commanding presence and the obvious product of someone at the top of his game. Of course, unlike a Wright house, the Zephyr won't leak in the rain.

If You Want a Parade Float, Look Elsewhere
Not so long ago, using "trail braking" and "Lincoln" in the same sentence was either the setup or the punch line of a joke. The Zephyr will force you to look elsewhere for comedy material. Up front there's a short/long arm suspension while the rear features an independent multilink configuration with control arms. There's a stabilizer bar on each end. On paper, it sounds middle-of-the-road conventional. No exotic forged-aluminum arms or DARPA-inspired compliance pivots. But what's there is solidly engineered and fully developed to produce a supple ride and agile handling. And by that we don't mean a supple ride and agile handling "for a Lincoln." We're talking about the real thing.

On back roads, even those that haven't seen a pavement crew in decades, the Zephyr exhibits few vices. Bumps and chattery surfaces on your apex don't seem to induce any toe change. In sweepers that require just breathing the engine to preload the suspension, the Zephyr takes no time at all to settle in for the change of direction. Once you dial in sufficient steering input, the suspension takes a set, digs in and hangs on like a trapeze artist swinging over an acre of punji stakes. It'll take some real effort to induce terminal understeer from the 17-inch P225/50 tires.

The variable-ratio, power-assisted rack and pinion steering requires a special commendation. Considering the beefy tires it commands, steering effort is light and easy in parking, making barely legal K-turns and tooling around town, but tightens up and notches into superb on-center feel at speed. In corners, there's high-quality feedback and a reassuring, linear buildup of weight in the hands.

Beware the Spike Strips and Helicopters
We don't know in what country the development engineers learned their craft, but we'd bet they spent at least some time learning how to say,
"Wo ist die autobahn, bitte?" Like the best of the Deutsche marques, the Zephyr's sense of being planted to the road increases with road speed. Triple-digit speeds are where the integration of a car's subsystems really shines. Or falls apart. Engine, transmission, suspension, aero, sound abatement — you name it. If it does well in the body temperature-plus environment, chances are somebody worked long and hard to make it right.

The problem with the Zephyr is that once you sample the refinement served up at those speeds, you won't want to back off. The 3.0-liter, Duratec V6 is rated at 221 hp and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. At 80 mph, the engine loafs along at right around 2,400 rpm with plenty of reserve power available all the way to the 6,600-rpm redline. If 221 hp doesn't seem like enough to achieve orbital escape velocity, consider that 10 years ago, the corporation's workhorse 4.0-liter V6 produced a mere 140 hp. The Duratec doesn't just squeeze more power from a smaller displacement, it's also rated ULEV 2 (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle). We can thank refinements like the variable intake cam timing system for the boost in power and improved sanitation of exhaust fumes.

Our test car was equipped with the optional navigation system and 14-speaker THX sound system. We became emotionally attached to both. A product of the film industry (specifically, George Lucas), THX will let you crank up the volume to disturbing-the-peace levels without distortion or loss of clarity.

Of course, we're only touching the surface here. There's a lot more to like about the Zephyr. The seats are wonderful, the interior is spacious, and the fit and finish is exemplary. The best news of all, however, is the aggressive pricing. The base price is $29,995. With everything checked on the six-item options list, the price goes up to $35,575. For the added money, you get leather seating, the nav system, THX sound, HID headlamps, chrome wheels and the power moonroof. Everything else — like power seats, steering wheel controls, front and side airbags, ABS, EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), dual-zone auto climate control, drive memory seat, and the rest of the luxury items — comes standard.

Odd name notwithstanding, the Zephyr makes a powerfully modern statement for Lincoln. It demonstrates a real understanding of the market and the expectations of people who gravitate toward the "sport" in sport luxury sedans. It's worthy enough that it might even usher in a period of antiquarian names. Can you see yourself driving a Lincoln Zeus or a Mercury Thracian?

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Surprisingly positive review, IMO. Btw, the Zephyr might have been tuned in Germany, but clearly the penny-pinchers in the US opted not to offer stability control, which is a serious omission in a $30K+ vehicle.
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Lack of stability control on one hand is hilarious and on the other is scary, especially when the xB offers it as standard. Out of the 3 (Fusion, Milan, Zephyr) I like the Lincoln the best. I love the interior and the front end while I'm still getting used to the rear. Even though it's FWD, doesn't offer stability control and has relatively low power for a luxury car with no optional engine, I think it will be successful and at least one hit that Lincoln needs. Can't wait to read other reviews and see it in person.
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Leather is not standard?

[post="35316"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Yeah, that's wierd. I thought leather would be standard across the board. Still at $35K for a fully optioned car, you're not hurting your pockets by getting leather.
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I like this car alot. I like the front most of all, and the interior is fine. The rear really could have been a little less massive (I think that could have been achieved with smaller taillamps), but it's still pretty nice. I hope they sell a ton of them.
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Yeah, that's wierd. I thought leather would be standard across the board.  Still at $35K for a fully optioned car, you're not hurting your pockets by getting leather.

[post="35377"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


some folks still avoid leather at all costs. Me, i love to bathe in it.
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Leather is not standard?

[post="35316"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

Actually, leather IS standard.
clicky
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Actually, leather IS standard.
clicky

[post="35557"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Acutally, leather IS NOT. I just went to Lincoln.com to build a car. It comes with heated seats standard, but they're cloth. When building the car, click on standard features. You'll see. Leather/perforated seats/cooling seats are a $495 option. That said, I don't see many dealers stocking these cars without leather.
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some folks still avoid leather at all costs.  Me, i love to bathe in it.

[post="35489"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Me too. :)
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For quick squirts through slow traffic


Man, who writes like that?
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QUOTE(2b2 @ Oct 28 2005, 03:18 AM)
Actually, leather IS standard.
clicky

Acutally, leather IS NOT.  I just went to Lincoln.com to build a car.  It comes with heated seats standard, but they're cloth.  When building the car, click on standard features.  You'll see.  Leather/perforated seats/cooling seats are a $495 option.  That said, I don't see many dealers stocking these cars without leather.

[post="35617"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

The computer I'm on right now can't access the build-it site. Do they have any pictures of the cloth? I haven't seen it. Do they say the cloth is heated? That would be interesting.

But they do call the heated-but-un-cooled/ventilated leather 'standard'. Maybe they should have said 'no cost option'... guess choosing a color should be called a 'no cost option' on the Zephyr too.

Zephyr window sticker at dealership (819x739) from gallery

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Man, who writes like that?

[post="35670"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


rather porno phrasing.....
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some folks still avoid leather at all costs.  Me, i love to bathe in it.

[post="35489"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Like me. I'd love a leather delete option on the Cobalt SS/SC.
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QUOTE(2b2 @ Oct 28 2005, 03:18 AM)
Actually, leather IS standard.
clicky
The computer I'm on right now can't access the build-it site. Do they have any pictures of the cloth? I haven't seen it. Do they say the cloth is heated? That would be interesting.

But they do call the heated-but-un-cooled/ventilated leather 'standard'. Maybe they should have said 'no cost option'... guess choosing a color should be called a 'no cost option' on the Zephyr too.

Zephyr window sticker at dealership (819x739) from gallery

Posted Image click for larger

[post="35834"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

Interesting, if you look on the lower left column, it says "leather/wood" under "interior".
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