Few cars have generated as much controversy in recent years as the 2014 Lincoln MKZ. One reason is that the MKZ is supposed to signal the start of the Lincoln brand's revival -- and some industry experts question whether it's the right car to bear that burden. The sedan's styling has also been a point of contention, given its futuristic look compared to premium sedan class rivals. But what is the MKZ actually like to live with on a daily basis? To find out, we spent a week with a well-equipped, V6-powered, all-wheel-drive model.

Striking Styling

Call us crazy, but everyone on the AutoTrader staff seems to love the MKZ's styling. Part of the reason, we suspect, is that it's just so different: Few other sedans share its unusual profile, waterfall grille and taillights that span the entire rear end -- though the lights remind us a little of recent Chrysler products. We think many staffers appreciate the sedan's looks simply because the MKZ's styling is so unusual compared to anything else on the road.

Of course, we recognize that not everyone appreciates the MKZ's appearance -- so we'll say that it is, more than anything else, striking. Love it or hate it, the MKZ turns more heads than any other car in its class.

Striking Features

You might not expect the phrase "striking features" to be used in conjunction with the Lincoln brand, but a few hours with the MKZ will likely change your mind. And we're not just talking about MyLincoln Touch, the sedan's center-mounted infotainment system that seems to be getting better with every passing model year.

Instead, we're referring to items like massaging seats, which seem to be unique at this price point. They might be something of a gimmick, but everyone who drove our MKZ tester certainly enjoyed the novelty of the feature. We're also referring to the sedan's huge panoramic sunroof, which essentially transforms the MKZ into an open-air convertible with the push of a button. And most of us like the push-button gear selector, which moves the cumbersome transmission lever away from the center console for a cleaner look and feel inside the cabin.

Striking Comfort

Another big plus in the MKZ's favor: interior comfort. Beyond the features that help us stay comfortable, the sedan's ride quality is excellent and its seats are plush. We also appreciate easy-to-reach buttons, easy-to-understand controls and ample head room and hip room. The only issue comes in the sedan's back seat: Presumably a casualty of the MKZ's styling, rear head room is a little tight.

Not-So-Striking Engine

So we loved the MKZ's look, its lavish equipment and its comfortable ride and driving feel. Our only problem is the engine.

It may surprise you to hear car enthusiasts disapprove of a muscular powerplant like the MKZ's 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, but that's exactly what we're doing. The main reason is that it simply isn't fast enough.

Interestingly, it's not that we want more power, but rather that we happen to think the MKZ's base-level engine -- a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder -- is more than adequate for this car. As a result, we see no benefit in upgrading to the V6, which seems only slightly faster. We think there's no real reason to choose the V6 over the 4-cylinder unless Lincoln adds even more power to the V6.

This is especially true when you consider gas mileage. While 4-cylinder models are rated for up to 22 miles per gallon city and 33 mpg highway (22 mpg city/31 mpg highway with all-wheel drive), we couldn't beat 16 mpg with the V6 in mostly city driving. That's not far off the Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for the all-wheel-drive MKZ V6.

Highly Recommended

As equipped, the sticker price of our 2014 Lincoln MKZ test car was nearing $45,000 -- and that seems a little high. We'd suggest skipping all-wheel drive unless you absolutely need it -- and we'd suggest skipping the V6 unless you simply can't wrap your head around the idea of a luxury car with a 4-cylinder engine. Choose a front-wheel-drive MKZ with the standard 4-cylinder, and you're likely to walk out of the dealer paying less than $40,000 before taxes. To us, that's an excellent deal for the most striking premium sedan on the road.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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