It was like surfing in Maui and hitting a wave, or taking on a snowbank with a brand new snowmobile, or using a Slip'N Slide to glide over a grassy knoll. No, I'm not talking about a recent vacation outing. After driving the 2015 Lincoln MKZ, I can report that the "pothole mitigation" feature (there's a term for you) worked like a charm. Instead of being abrupt and harsh like middle school dating or punk rock, potholes seemed almost inconsequential.
I've never done this before, especially in my native Minnesota, but I took the MKZ out for a test drive in search of potholes. They are not hard to find. Locating a sizeable crevice along a riverfront walkway, I steered directly for the gaping hole and cringed. Then, smoothness.
The MKZ uses proprietary algorithms (there's another fun term) that detect a pothole. A Lincoln rep told me the software works within two milliseconds, or about half the time it takes for you to blink an eye. The suspension "dampens" or holds the tire from dropping all the way down into the hole. That's basically like a force field you'd see in a sci-fi movie. But how does it feel?
Strangely, your mind thinks there will be a sudden drop and a painful hard-edged slam. Going 10MPH and all the way up to about 45MPH, the MKZ glided like a magic carpet. After several attempts and a few odd looks from dog-walkers, I decided to investigate further. Sure enough, when I stopped with the tire hovering over the pothole, it stayed suspended in mid-air. On older cars, the tire would have dipped down into the bottom of the pothole.
Lincoln went to great lengths to improve the ride in the MKZ. I also experimented with a feature named Continuously Controlled Damping or CCD. No, it is not contagious. The car uses 42 sensors to monitor the road and adjust the ride as you switch from pavement to gravel and back again. It worked fine. On the steering wheel, you can navigate through a few settings and use a Comfort, Normal or Sport suspension. As a nice perk, the Sport setting feeds engine roar through the stereo system just a touch so you can hear it a little better.
Many cars offer a way to fine-tune the ride, and the MKZ does seem to work. It's not a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, but then that vehicles costs $141,450. Where you can feel the difference is on the ruts on a highway, which still felt a bit rough in the MKZ on any setting but had no effect on an S63 AMG on a recent test a few months ago. A more apt comparison is to the 2015 Acura RLX which handled the same ruts with just a bit more cushioning.
The base model RLX costs $48,450. To get a starter version of the MKZ, you'll pay just $34,190--even the base model comes with CCD as a standard feature. To add all of the trimmings, including AWD, a 3.7-liter engine, and blind spot detection, you can expect to pay north of $52,000. Our test car cost $52,110. Potholes, you've been officially put on notice.