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2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid: First Drive

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid - Side View WASHINGTON, DC—Lincoln has done something no other automaker has managed to do. They’ve priced a hybrid at the same level as the gasoline-powered model.
 
How novel.
 
Their philosophy is that today’s luxury owners want to be socially responsible. The Wall Street  “Greed is Good” era is gone, and we have now entered the age of value. Luxury owners are looking to get more for their money, be less conspicuous and do good at the same time.
 
Luckily Lincoln already had a ready-made, tried-and-true, North-American-Car-of-the-Year-award-winning hybrid system that they could slip right into the Lincoln MKZ. Thank you, Ford Fusion Hybrid.
 
Thus, Lincoln could keep costs down and focus on the really important stuff. Like flowering apple blossoms.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid - Dashboard

 
New for the Lincoln version of the hybrid system is a visual representation of economical driving over a long period of time. In addition to the leafy green foliage that appears in the Ford hybrid system, displaying immediate fuel-efficient driving, Lincoln has added a new little feature that pops out only as you drive well over a period of days, weeks and months. Hence, flowering apple blossoms.
 


Even before this visual explosion of color on the behind-the-wheel gauges, Ford and Lincoln have completely revolutionized the whole idea of gauges. Interactive, four color and attractive, there isn’t a single automaker out there who produces a more informative and appealing display of data.
 
Now, if the rest of the interior could get a little less boring, we’d be somewhere. The vehicles we drove during the preview had the wood inserts, which were lovely, but the overall design is a bit stuffy and stifled. I did, however, absolutely love the suede inserts on the leather seats. And I have no complaints about the comfort, visibility or accessibility of controls.
 
The exterior design is what you’d expect from the new Lincoln and completely mimics the gasoline model. The main difference: minimal silver-plated hybrid badging on the rear and side of the vehicle.
 
The biggest selling point for this vehicle—other than the price point—is the hybrid system itself. Delivering total system power of 191 horsepower and generating 136 pound-feet of torque, the MKZ hybrid still manages to bring in EPA estimated city/highway fuel economies of 41/36 mpg. That’s 6 mpg more on the highway than it’s only luxury competitor, the Lexus HS 250h.
 
And speaking of the HS 250h. Oh. My. Gosh. What a difference. The Lexus hybrid is all brawn and no finesse. Even before I drove the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, I didn’t love the HS 250h. Sure the interior design is pretty suave, but as a hybrid, it falls short. And having the chance to drive these vehicles back to back, that sentiment was utterly reinforced.
 
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid as a sophisticated and seamless system that switches back and forth between electric and gasoline modes. It’s quiet and virtually imperceptible. By comparison, the HS 250h was clunky and loud. If you’re shopping the HS 250h against the MKZ Hybrid, you should drive them back to back; the winner is pretty clear.
 
The MKZ Hybrid also beats the HS 250h in the following areas:
 

  • It has 4 more horsepower.
  • It can go 200 miles more on a single tank of gas.
  • It can drive in electric-only mode up to 47 mph (compared to 25 mph in the HS 250).
  • It costs $345 less than than the HS 250h.

 
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid - Interior Overall, I really enjoyed the MKZ Hybrid. The system is well done, the design is attractive if a bit simple, the behind-the-wheel gauges are beautiful, and the $35,180 starting price is ground breaking.
 
Lincoln is doing a lot of stuff right at the moment. The question is: Will the consumer buy it? I hope so.

– Jill Ciminillo

Drive She Said

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid - Front View

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