2019 Lexus IS Series vs. 2019 Lincoln MKZ

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Lexus IS Series have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Lincoln MKZ doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The IS Series’ optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The MKZ doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the IS Series and the MKZ have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Lexus IS Series is safer than the Lincoln MKZ:

 

IS Series

MKZ

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

3 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Lexus IS Series is safer than the Lincoln MKZ:

 

IS Series

MKZ

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

15 inches

16 inches

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

46 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the IS Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 100 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The MKZ was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The IS Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the MKZ’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the IS Series’ reliability 38 points higher than the MKZ.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 34 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lincoln is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Lincoln is ranked 20th.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the IS 300 is faster than the Lincoln MKZ:

 

IS Series

MKZ Hybrid

MKZ turbo 4 cyl.

Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

8.8 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

16.7 sec

15.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

89.9 MPH

84.9 MPH

89.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the IS Series gets better fuel mileage than the MKZ:

 

 

 

MPG

IS Series

 

RWD

300 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

 

 

350 3.5 DOHC V6

20 city/28 hwy

 

AWD

300 3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

 

 

350 3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

MKZ

 

FWD

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

20 city/31 hwy

 

 

3.0 turbo V6

18 city/27 hwy

 

AWD

3.0 turbo V6

17 city/26 hwy

The IS Series has 3.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the MKZ Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (17.4 vs. 14 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Lexus IS Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the MKZ.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the IS Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the MKZ:

 

IS Series

MKZ Hybrid

MKZ 2.0T/3.0T

Front Rotors

13.1 inches

11.8 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.9 inches

12.4 inches

The IS Series’ brakes have 73% more swept area (the area covered by the brake pads) than the MKZ (476 vs. 274.5 square inches), so the IS Series has more braking power available.

The IS Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the MKZ are solid, not vented.

The IS Series stops shorter than the MKZ:

 

IS Series

MKZ

 

60 to 0 MPH

111 feet

119 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The IS Series’ optional 255/35R18 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the MKZ’s optional 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The IS Series has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The MKZ’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The IS Series AWD handles at .89 G’s, while the MKZ Premiere AWD pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The IS 350 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.6 seconds quicker than the MKZ Premiere (26 seconds @ .72 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the IS Series’ turning circle is 4.8 feet tighter than the MKZ’s (34.2 feet vs. 39 feet). The IS Series AWD’s turning circle is 3.6 feet tighter than the MKZ’s (35.4 feet vs. 39 feet).

Chassis

The IS Series is 9.6 inches shorter than the MKZ, making the IS Series easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the IS 350 F Sport is quieter than the MKZ AWD:

 

IS Series

MKZ

At idle

42 dB

44 dB

Full-Throttle

73 dB

75 dB

70 MPH Cruising

65 dB

71 dB

Passenger Space

The IS Series has .3 inches more front headroom, .5 inches more front legroom, .3 inches more rear headroom and .2 inches more rear hip room than the MKZ.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the IS Series offers cargo security. The MKZ’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the IS Series is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the MKZ. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Lincoln. J.D. Power ranks Lexus third in service department satisfaction. With a 11% lower rating, Lincoln is ranked 7th.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the MKZ, the IS Series offers an optional driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The IS Series has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The MKZ doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The IS Series’ headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the MKZ’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

When the IS Series with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The MKZ’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Economic Advantages

The IS Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the IS Series will retain 47.56% to 50.51% of its original price after five years, while the MKZ only retains 38.09% to 40.84%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the IS Series is less expensive to operate than the MKZ because typical repairs cost much less on the IS Series than the MKZ, including $606 less for a muffler, $39 less for front brake pads and $21 less for a fuel pump.

Recommendations

The Lexus IS Series outsold the Lincoln MKZ by 15% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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