The Lincoln Zephyr is an all-new model for 2006. It shares a platform with the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, but is equipped with more standard and optional features such as real wood trim and an industry-first THX II audio system (created by George Lucas of Star Wars fame). Technology features include Roll-Fold side-curtain airbag technology, a navigation system, and a standard six-speed automatic transmission. The suspension is designed to provide a more luxurious ride and improved handling compared to its Ford and Mercury siblings.
The Zephyr represents the brand's transformation from its past to its future, although the Zephyr name is not new. Zephyr was originally used in the 1930s on a luxury vehicle named after the streamlined Zephyr passenger trains of the time; it was revitalized again in the 1970s for use on a Mercury coupe.
Standard equipment on the Zephyr includes dual-zone climate control, and there are six options: High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps; seventeen-inch 8-spoke chrome wheels; cooled front seats (heated front seats are standard); and a DVD-based navigation system. A V-6 powerplant with 221 hp is the sole engine choice.
Safety features include four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, energy-absorbing body structure, and a roof structure that exceeds future U.S. government crash requirements. The side-curtain airbags feature Ford's patented Roll-Fold technology that allows the air bags to unroll, or unfold in a side-impact or rollover situation. (If an occupant is improperly seated or resting his or her head against a window, the airbag is designed to slide between the glass and occupant as it inflates, providing protection even if the occupant is out of position). The Zephyr also benefits from extensive sound-absorbing materials that create a quieter cabin, and, according to Lincoln, Zephyr features the largest trunk in its class.
The Lincoln Zephyr was first offered for sale in the fourth quarter of 2005. It competes in the crowded Compact Premium segment that delivers on its promise of luxury features without the luxury price. There are more than a dozen vehicles that compete in the segment with Zephyr.
For 2005, the sales leader in the segment remains the BMW 3 Series, which was redesigned for 2006 and had calendar-year 2005 sales of 106,950 units, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report.SM Other top-selling vehicles in the segment are the Acura TL (78,218 sales in 2005), Infiniti G35 (68,728), Cadillac CTS (61,512), and Mercedes-Benz C-Class (60,658).