Competition probably isn't as fierce in the luxury part of the midsize sedan segment as it is with non-luxury models, but some pretty impressive contenders are vying for buyer's attention. Two of the best are the 2017 Lincoln MKZ and the legendary Mercedes-Benz E-Class, so let's put them head-to-head to see which deserves your money more.
The 2017 Lincoln MKZ has recently been restyled so it no longer shares the familiar twin-wing grille still seen on Lincoln crossovers, and apart from the fastback shape it doesn't have much in common with the mass-market model it shares a platform with. The main rivals the Lincoln MKZ is aimed at are largely European, and this is a design that would fit in as well over there as it does here.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is also available as a convertible and a coupe--and honestly those versions are far better looking because they don't have the awkward rear roofline of the sedan. Apart from that notable design problem, the rest of the car is as handsome, distinguished, and bursting with presence as you'd want a luxury sedan to be, but the rear gives the Lincoln the opportunity to win this first test.
The interior of the Lincoln is generous for passengers and cargo alike as this is a model that's towards the larger end of the midsize scale. Front seat passengers get a generous 44.3 inches of legroom, while in the back there's an almost equally generous 37 inches. The trunk isn't cavernous, but at 15.4 cu.-ft. it's definitely par for the course.
This latest E-Class is longer than its predecessor, which means more passenger space in the front and the back. However, the Mercedes has three inches of legroom less than the Lincoln in the front and 1.2 inches less in the back. And at just 13.1 cu.-ft., trunk volume certainly isn't as generous as it is in the Lincoln MKZ either, so this is a victory for the Lincoln.
The Lincoln MKZ delivers effortless performance from a new high-end engine option that really does deliver on the promises made by the purposeful exterior design. The new turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 produces 50 horsepower more than the old 3.7-liter at 350 horsepower, the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is excellent, and the hybrid offers fantastic fuel economy and no lack of performance. The base four-cylinder in the E-Class offers almost identical power and performance to the one in the Lincoln, and it's a worthy performer even in 4,000-pound sedan like this.
Not too many people would have imagined an E-Class Sedan with a four-cylinder a few years ago, but this unit isn't at all under powered. There's no V-6 in the E Class without going to one of the other body styles though, and that hands the advantage here to the Lincoln MKZ.
While the Lincoln MKZ does have a hybrid option that will obviously provide better fuel economy than a standard gas version, it's best to compare apples to apples. The standard gas powered Lincoln MKZ gets 21 mpgs in the city, 31 on the highway, and a combined average of 24 miles per gallon.
The E Class's turbo-four delivers impressive fuel economy for such a weighty package thanks to its turbo inline four. With a best of 22 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 25 combined, it trumps the performance of the Lincoln MKZ but not by much.
Some people will just buy the E-Class because of its badge and its reputation, and that's fine if money isn't really a concern. However, a badge doesn't make a luxury vehicle better, as evidenced by our side-by-side comparison. The 2017 Lincoln MKZ is a better option all around, from styling and interior space to performance itself.