THX Comes to Cars with the Lincoln MKZ

The Lincoln MKZ is the first car out of Dearborn with the new THXII Sound System.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

I don’t know if it’s worth it to you to spend $37,000 just for a really cool moment in a car, but if you want to give it a shot, buy the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

The new MKZ is the latest car in the Lincoln line to feature a THXII sound system. Yes, the car comes with the movie volume king – the brainchild of the George Lucas armies of Marin County – that same THX.

In fact, the MKZ is the latest car in Lincoln’s family to feature the new THX 2 system. The 14 channel, 700 watt stereo resulted from an in-depth partnership between Lincoln’s engineers and THX developers. The same audio experts that develop the sound systems you enjoy in cinemas and home theaters faced the challenge of arranging a 14-speaker surround sound system into a luxury sedan.

According to THX's Vice President of Certification Engineering Peter Vasay, the THX specialist get in on the Lincoln prototypes early in the design phase.

“We see the prototype,” Vasay said. “We advise on the speaker position while we work with the automotive designers. But, we have to deal with structural issues, airbag positioning, passenger ergonomics and  other issues unique to working in a car’s space.”

Vasay said Lincoln engineers and the THX crew would go back and forth on the debate of art and substance. Suffice to say, driving safety and automotive performance always win the day when pitted against audio enjoyment. But, the end result of the 14-channel placement still provides a clear, powerful listening experience.

Lincoln rolled out the MKZ at a special event with recording artist Chris Mann at a stately private home in Brentwood, Calif. Automotive writers had a chance to play with the THXII inside the MKZ, trying differently genres of music and manipulating the digital equalizer controls, manipulating multiple channels of balance, bass, fade, etc.

Since Lincoln has to provide plenty of bells and whistles to fit into its midrange luxury sedan market, drivers can enjoy that THXII through an AM/FM/CD/satellite system enhanced by the SYNC technology’s suite of apps.

As for that exceedingly cool moment I spoke of earlier, it may not be worth the entire $37,000 or so price tag, but the in-dash system has a single button simply for a demo screen. Press that button and you can enjoy the the THX logo spinning at you from outer space with that now very familiar THX test tone – that swelling, orchestral blast that shattered a theater full of eyeglasses on “The Simpsons.”

For that rare mix of hopeless cinephile and gearhead, that THX fanfare animation on a dashboard might cause the occasional minor fender bender as the driver simply won’t be able to resist playing with that demo button.