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Is the first-gen (2006-2009) MKZ/Zephyr still a good buy?

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I've daily-driven a 1998 Buick Park Avenue for the past four years and am considering upgrading within the next year or two. I'm 22 and fresh out of college. Among all of my preliminary research for decent sedans, the first-generation MKZ stuck out, as did the 2004-to-2008 Acura TL and 2007-to-2008 Lexus ES 350. I don't want to throw out the Acura or Lexus without test-driving them, but they seem to be priced higher for fewer options and with more miles. That, combined with the fact that the TL lacks cooled seats (at least in that generation) and the ES is difficult to find in my target pricerange (around $5000) makes a strong case for the MKZ. The standard-equipment SYNC system and quality cooled seats in the 2008/2009 models further influences this bias. The ease of availability with the factory Pioneer navigation & improved (THX certified) sound system is a nice plus too.

I've test driven two of them just for fun, and the ergonomics of everything seems nice and comfortable enough for me. My main objective in upgrading, in addition to improved performance and handling, is mainly for a bit more modernity in terms of features and integration. After having experienced the life-changing enlightenment of cooled seats, this is one foo-foo feature that really draws me to these newer cars that have them. I would also appreciate a radio that integrates Bluetooth, something the MKZ does even better than the Lexus thanks to SYNC, which allows it to play music over that connection in addition to just making calls. Integrating that with a factory stock navigation system that spares me from having to turn the volume down in order to hear the directions makes this a really compelling package.

According to Fuelly, the median combined gas mileage that most people get out of their 2007-2009 MKZs is 20-22 with a relatively even mix of city/highway. This isn't too much worse than the Park Avenue, which averages 23.5 (right in line with the Fuelly community median). This minor loss is still within acceptable parameters for me. Even though the Acura TL and Lexus ES average a solid 3 or 4 MPG better, they also require premium gas to achieve rated performance and mileage, so the price difference in the fuel pretty much cancels out that advantage.

The general consensus seems to be that the overall cost of ownership in terms of general maintenance is relatively low too. Do these models still hold up well enough to be worthy of being considered as a daily driver, even with lots of miles? Are there any areas of concern that I should be aware of before seriously thinking about one?


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