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2006 Lincoln Zephyr

The last time Lincoln introduced a Zephyr as its entry-level vehicle, the year was 1936, and the vehicle-it was a line of vehicles, actually, that included two-doors, four-doors, sedans and coupes-followed the front-engine/rear-drive convention of the day.

The last time Lincoln introduced a Zephyr as its entry-level vehicle, the year was 1936, and the vehicle-it was a line of vehicles, actually, that included two-doors, four-doors, sedans and coupes-followed the front-engine/rear-drive convention of the day. That Zephyr was powered by a 110-hp flat head V12 engine, cost $1,400-about $19,000 in today's money-and broke new ground in terms of engineering (it was Ford's first unibody fitted atop a frame) and design. The latest Lincoln Zephyr-the name spent a short time in the 1970s adorning a mid-size Mercury-boasts a front-engine/front-drive layout, a 221-hp 3.0-liter V6 engine, starts at $29,660-about $2,300 in 1936 dollars-and is built on a platform that traces its roots from Japan and through both the Ford (Fusion) and Mercury (Milan) divisions. What a difference 70 years makes. In detail:

  • Built off the CD3 platform in Hermosillo, Mexico, the Zephyr sits on a 107.4-in. wheelbase, stretches 190.5-in. overall, is 72.2-in. wide, and stands 57.2-in. tall. The base version weighs 3,410 lb, or just 110 lb more than the 1936 model.
  • The Duratec 30 V6 is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the only combination available. It produces 221 hp @ 6,250 rpm, and 205 lb-ft @ 4,800. A 3.5-liter "Cyclone" V6 will be offered in about one year, and produce the approximately 250 hp buyers in this market segment expect.
  • White LED interior lighting is becoming a Lincoln signature, as are real wood trim and chrome-ringed electroluminescent gauges. All are standard on the Zephyr.
  • The front brakes are 299 x 25-mm, the rears are 279 x 10-mm, and four-sensor three-channel ABS-like traction control-is standard and packaged with electronic brake force distribution (EBD). Tires are P225/50R-17 available on aluminum wheels with a choice of brushed or chrome finish.
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) is not available, though all-wheel-drive will appear on the Zephyr (and Fusion and Milan) next model year. Marketing execs say they're keeping an eye on customer demand for ESC, and will add it if doing so becomes a necessity, making the Zephyr one of the few vehicles in this class not to offer it.
  • The Zephyr is fitted with a fully independent suspension. Up front is a short- and long-arm design with lower control arms that face rearward and a 24-mm anti-roll bar. In back, the multi-link design has lower control arms and a 17-mm anti-roll bar.
  • Most of the interior door trim is fastened with screws instead of plastic clips to keep buzzes, squeaks, and rattles (BSRs) to a minimum over the life of the car. Extra sound deadening material is used under the carpet, in the instrument panel cowl area, in the trunk lid and trunk side panels, and under the hood.
  • Both the driver and passenger get 10-way power seats. Seat heating is standard, cooling is an option.
  • There are but six options for the car: chrome wheels ($895), a power moonroof ($1,200), a DVD-based navigation system ($2,495), a THX-II premium sound system ($995), high-intensity discharge headlamps ($495), and cooled front seats with perforated leather ($495). A fully loaded vehicle with destination charge is $35,240.-CAS