Toyota Avalon vs. Lincoln MKZ
On paper, the Toyota Avalon and Lincoln MKZ, each redesigned for 2013, look similar. Their external dimensions are about the same, they’re priced in the low $40,000s, and they have well-crafted interiors with plenty of features. Each also is now available in a hybrid version for drivers who want to stretch their fuel dollars further.
But once you’re behind the steering wheel, it’s clear that the two models have very different DNA. The Avalon is largely about getting from point A to point B with plenty of comfort and convenience. It provides a better driving position and a more spacious, stretch-your-legs-out rear seat.
The MKZ, on the other hand, is much more fun to drive, with taut, agile handling that rivals that of many European sports sedans. But you might not expect the MKZ to also provide a steadier, more comfortable and compliant ride and a somewhat quieter cabin—traits that have long been associated with the Avalon.
That’s partly a byproduct of the Avalon’s redesign, which has given Toyota’s large car better handling at the expense of its previously plush ride comfort.
Where the MKZ loses points is in its complicated MyLincoln Touch control system, tighter rear seat, and so-so visibility.
The Avalon and MKZ hybrids join the Lexus ES as the only gas/electric models available in this price range. And here, the Avalon Hybrid has a slight edge, delivering a frugal 36 mpg overall—the same as the ES 300h—compared with 34 for the MKZ Hybrid. Even the 24 mpg of the conventional Avalon’s V6 edges the 23 of the MKZ’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine.