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Lincoln steps up its game with the faster and more luxurious 2017 MKZ

The thoroughly updated 2017 Lincoln MKZ is making a surprise appearance at the Los Angeles Motor Show.

For the next model year, the MKZ loses the waterfall grille that has characterized all members of the Lincoln lineup for years and ushers in a brand new design language that borrows styling cues from the Continental concept. The front end gets a single-piece grille, bigger headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, and a larger air dam accented by a thin strip of chrome trim. Overall, the facelifted MKZ looks significantly more upscale than the outgoing model.

Designers focused on making the MKZ’s cabin more ergonomic. The sedan boasts a floating center console, a new center stack with rearranged HVAC controls, and a slew of additional trim options. The current model’s immense panoramic glass roof carries over, and customers who want a fully-loaded MKZ can choose from a long list of options that includes a Revel sound system.

The MKZ delivers on the safety front as well. It can be ordered with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, and a park assist function that allows the sedan to maneuver itself in and out of parallel or perpendicular parking spots.

Mechanically, the 2017 MKZ ushers in a new 3.0-liter GTDI V6 engine that sends 350 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via a push-button automatic transmission. Cars ordered with the optional all-wheel drive system benefit from an evolution of the six tuned to deliver 400 hp, a figure that makes it the most powerful engine in Lincoln’s portfolio. The six was developed specifically for Lincoln vehicles in order to widen the gap between the company’s models and their Ford-badged siblings.

Other powertrain options include a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter GTDI four-cylinder that generates 245 hp. Additionally, V6-powered MKZs can be ordered with an extra cost Driver’s Package that bundles a torque vectoring system (available only with all-wheel drive), a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, Ebony-painted brake calipers, specific seats, and carbon fiber trim in the cabin.

Related: Lincoln’s born-again Continental flagship will bow in Detroit

The 2017 Lincoln MKZ is scheduled to go on sale in the summer of 2016. Further details such as pricing and fuel economy figures will be published in the first half of next year.