Call Nurse Jackie and tell her to float over pronto with her magic stash of powders and pills.

Get a crash cart down here, too, and a couple of extra-large IV bags.

Maybe we should even summon one of those head-slapping, leg-shaking, devil-be-gone millionaire televangelists.

Lincoln is on the floor, kids, and it looks pretty pale.

Once the stylish transport of presidents and rock stars, Lincoln sailed through the 1960s, '70s and even '80s with cruisers cast as grand sedans.

But the brand ran out of soft flash and Lawrence Welk glitter years ago, and it has struggled to rebuild and reinvent itself, which is why the 2014 MKZ sedan is so important.

As you may have heard, Lincoln is not exactly clogging the roads these days with shiny new vehicles.

Sales peaked in 1990 at about 200,000 vehicles, dropping just about every year since to a humbling 2013 total of 43,154 – or enough to halfway fill one factory.

The midsize MKZ, built on Ford's fine Fusion sedan platform, will try to pull Lincoln back up again – along with a new compact crossover called the MKC that will arrive this year.

For the record, some of this may be working. Lincoln sales in the first quarter were up 35.8 percent, driven mostly by the MKZ.

Weary of criticism that its cars were little more than warmed-over Fords, Lincoln took the bones of the Fusion and crafted its own vision of a near-luxury sedan.

The one I had recently wore glossy metallic-gray paint and styling far more dramatic than you see on a Fusion – and I like the Fusion a lot.

The MKZ faces the cold new world with an aggressive split grille that curves down slightly to a center-mounted Lincoln emblem.

Flanked by large headlamps that wrapped around the corners of the car, the grille kind of gives the MKZ a faint rich-guy's smirk.

Lincoln designers also put heavy hands to the hood, carving out three prominent character lines that were more or less parallel.

Meanwhile, a line that slides through the door handles could have left the MKZ with flat, slab sides. But the stylists added a line down low that made the sides look more taut and chiseled.

To my cynical eyes, the MKZ's best features were its gracefully curved, Fusion-derived top and great rump.

In fact, in back, the car's thin bar of taillamps stretched across the trunk might be the best rear end in Dearborn – among nonhumans, that is.

The top and high rear gave the MKZ a sense of motion, embellished by speedy-looking 19-inch turbine-style wheels and 245/40 tires.

It was a pretty good start, I thought.

The MKZ is available as a conventional four-cylinder sedan or a hybrid for the same base price – $36,190.

My MKZ came with Ford's 2-liter EcoBoost four, a turbocharged, direct-injected motor that cranks out 240 horsepower and was tied to a six-speed automatic.

In addition, mine had the optional all-wheel-drive system, a feature I would probably avoid because it adds weight to a car that already needs to spend more time in the gym. (Mine weighed in at a porky, Lexus-like 3,900 pounds, according to Motor Trend.)

Generally, the 2-liter EcoBoost engine is a real pleasure, twisting out 270 pound-feet of torque to go along with its impressive horsepower.

As is typical in cars with these engines, the MKZ jumped away from stops, promising the sort of performance found in an EcoBoost Fusion.

But then it flattened out in the middle where cars mostly live, dragged down – I think – by its 300 pounds of extra weight.

Motor Trend even documented what I felt, noting that the MKZ needed 7.2 seconds to reach 60 mph, compared with 6.8 for the lighter Fusion.

Fuel economy was a pretty middling 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 31 on the highway.

While I was a bit disappointed by the acceleration, which was still more than adequate, I thought the MKZ had a more supple, fluid ride than the Fusion.

Though the well-boosted steering felt a bit more isolated and less linear than the Fusion, I mostly attributed that to its role as a near-luxury sedan.

Still, I thought the MKZ needed to be more agile in curves and corners, particularly if it must compete price-wise with cars like the 3-series BMW.

The car didn't turn into corners as crisply as the Fusion, moved around more and didn't feel as confident. I'm not sure that will be a big consideration for most buyers, though, because even with a window sticker price of $50,285, the MKZ competes more with a Lexus ES 350 than a BMW.

Probably of more importance to most potential buyers was the MKZ's rich tan interior.

A curved tan dashboard slid down over a matching lower dash, bumping up against a high-mounted center stack that featured satin-black surfaces.

The stack housed one of the car's most unusual features – push buttons for the transmission that ran along the left edge of the touch screen.

They worked fine. The horizontal sliding "MyLincolnTouch" bars that controlled various climate and stereo features were a bigger challenge.

I got a heaping helping of volume with the Blaster's great "Border Radio" when all I wanted was a spoonful. (That's all right. I'm sure Medicare can reverse any hearing loss.)

Thanks to that beautifully curved top, the MKZ doesn't offer much headroom in back – though space was more than ample for my 31-inch-long legs.

And by the way, everything in the interior was cast in shades of matching tan, including the slightly padded door centers and stitched, perforated seats.

This is a polished sedan, vastly better than its predecessors.

But I'm still not sure it is as good as competitors such as the Acura TSX, Volvo S60 T5 and Cadillac ATS.

Lincoln got the envelope right. It just needs to put a bit more performance inside next time.



–Type of vehicle: Five-passenger, midsize, all-wheel-drive sedan

–Fuel economy: 22 miles per gallon city, 31 highway

–Weight: 3,893 pounds

–Engine: Turbocharged, direct-injected 2-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque

–Transmission: Six-speed automatic

–Performance: 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds

–Base price, excluding destination charge:

–Price as tested: $50,285

SOURCES: Lincoln; Motor Trend



Terry Box writes for the Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at


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