By John Addison (3/31/10)
Lincoln First Luxury to Better 40 mpg
The new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid will be the first luxury hybrid to beat 40 miles per gallon in city driving, topping the current luxury hybrid leader from Lexus. Last week I wrote about my test drive of the Lexus HS 250h which achieves 35 mpg city. I have been impressed with the smooth, quite drive of the Ford Fusion Hybrid with the same drive system to that of the new Lincoln, which is expected to get 39 mpg combined EPA rating compared to the Lexus 250h 35 mpg combined city and highway.
Hybrid cars are again popular now that oil prices have soared from a recent low of $32 per barrel to over $80 per barrel. In miles per gallon, the Ford Fusion Hybrid is #4 on the 2010 Clean Fleet Report Top 10 Hybrids. In 2011, we also expect the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid to join the Fusion Hybrid on the list. The new 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is shown for the first time at the 2010 New York Auto Show. This first-ever hybrid for the Lincoln brand is expected to offer more passenger room and luxury features than the Lexus 250h Hybrid.
Part of Bigger Battle Between Ford and Toyota
Ford will use the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid to try and take more market share from Toyota, this time in the luxury space. Ford outsold Toyota in February in the United States. Ford’s monthly sales of 140,319 vehicles were up 43 percent over February 2009, while Toyota sales dropped 9 percent to 100,027 vehicles. Part of Ford’s success is that its hybrids are taking on Toyota’s. Ford’s growing success comes at a time when Toyota, including Lexus, is recalling millions of vehicles, and suspending sales of key models, due to accelerator pedal problems. More customers now feel safer in a Ford, Mercury, or Lincoln than in a Toyota or Lexus.
Taking business from Lexus, however, will not be a slam-dunk. The Lexus hybrid has a starting MSRP price of around $34,200, the same MSRP as a non-hybrid Lincoln MKZ. The Fusion hybrid has about an $8,000 premium over the non-hybrid. Ford has yet to announce MKZ Hybrid pricing; it will go on sale this fall. The Lexus hybrid comes standard with a moonroof; with a Lincoln MKZ you pay extra. Buyers are likely to test drive both and compare prices when a number of premium features are included.
The new premium midsize sedan hybrid joins Ford Motor Company’s growing lineup of hybrids, including the Ford Fusion Hybrid – 2010 North American Car of the Year – plus the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Milan and Mariner Hybrids.
Introduction of the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid also complements Ford’s aggressive global electrification plan. Ford is introducing five new electrified vehicles by 2013. They include the Transit Connect Electric, already being ordered by fleets such as AT&T, the Focus Electric in 2011, a next-generation hybrid electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in 2012, followed by another next-generation hybrid electric vehicle in 2013.
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid uses Ford’s second-generation hybrid technology – the 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle I-4 hybrid engine, named one of Ward’s 2010 “10 Best Engines” and electric battery-driven motors to deliver optimal performance and fuel economy. The combined gasoline engine and electric motor provide 191 net horsepower.
The pure electric mode on the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid extends to 47 mph – compared with the Lexus HS 250h electric-only mode which reaches just 25 mph. In my test drive of the Fusion Hybrid, also speced to 47 mph in electric mode, I was unable to stay in battery-electric mode at close to 47 mph, possibly because I was enjoying the ride along the Monterey coastline. During my Lexus 250h Hybrid test drive, I was unable to keep the Lexus in electric-only mode, because I had touched the Power button to accelerate on a race track.
If you are looking for a luxury car with performance, creature comforts, and a luxurious ride, check out both the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the Lexus HS250h. You will be impressed with both. Let the competition begin.