2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Test Drive and Review

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Test Drive and Review

Lincoln MKZ InteriorBy John Addison (12/14/10)

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid’s Elegant Drive

This Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is delivering the most smooth and silent drive I’ve experienced. In stop-go LA traffic, I quietly move forward only using the two electric motors, with the gasoline engine off. When I accelerate around slow traffic the electric motors and gasoline engine blend power so smoothly that it would happen unnoticed unless you are doing a test drive.

The Lincoln MKZ is the premium hybrid car with the best fuel economy on the road. No other luxury or premium car gets the Lincoln MKZ’s 41 highway, 36 city, and 39 mpg combined fuel efficiency. The sticker price on this beautiful midsized four-door, five-seat, sedan is $34,333. How much more does this MKZ hybrid cost over the standard MKZ? Not a dime. Since the MKZ will save most drivers at least $1,000 per year over the non-hybrid, it practically makes this Lincoln a bargain.

As I sit behind in the Quietcraft Interior, admiring the Walnut Swirl steering wheel and dashboard, and adjust the fine leather seat to give me just the right support, I ask why Ford did not give this Lincoln a premium price. The answer is that Ford wants to sell more hybrids than Toyota. By 2020, Ford plans to have 10 to 25 percent of all its sales be hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric. If lithium battery prices keep dropping and oil prices keep rising with every drill and every oil spill, Ford will reach the 25 percent goal.

Ford Motor with this Lincoln MKZ hybrid is taking on Toyota Motor with its five Lexus hybrid models. So far, Ford is beating Toyota at its own game. Powered by the proven Ford Fusion hybrid drive system, the Lincoln MKZ delivers 39 mpg combined beating the 35 mpg of its competitor the Lexus HS250h hybrid. The MZK has 8.8 more cubic feet of passenger room than the Lexus HS250h and still delivers better mileage. In Spring 2011, however, Lexus is again expected to take the lead at 42 mpg combined with the new CT200h compact hatchback.  The Lexus CT200h allows drivers to select from four modes – Normal, EV, ECO, and Sport. The Lincoln MKZ keeps it simple. No selecting modes. Touch Start and drive.

As the Lincoln versus Lexus hybrid battle continues to unfold, Lincoln will emphasize their quiet, roomy, and luxurious ride. Lexus will focus on performance and a range of hybrid choices from hatchbacks to sedans to SUVs.

The Lincoln hybrid system makes all the decisions about when to be in electric-only mode and when to engage the gasolineengine. When stopped or accelerating carefully in the MKZ, I stay in stealth mode propelled with quiet electric motors. If I accelerate with care, I could reach 47 mph before the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is engaged. When I step on it, the gasoline engine and 40-horse electric motors work together taking me rapidly to the speed limit. Everything happens automatically – the MKZ’s computerized drive system decides when to engage motor, engine, or both.

The MKZ Hybrid includes an array of electronics for safer driving, navigation, and entertainment. The SmartGauge instrument cluster includes a keyless entry pad, display of growing leaves as you learn to drive without wasting fuel. Seat positions contoured to your comfort are remembered. The standard sound system is great and uses Synch to allow you to use your Droid, iPod, or other music system.

Although the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid costs no more than the standard MKZ, the standard includes 16 cubic feet of trunk space, while the hybrid only includes 11.8 cubic feet.

With the hybrid you sacrifice not having a 60/40 split rear seat that lowers. This matters to people that regularly need the option of added cargo space for sporting goods, home projects, and extra luggage. The standard Lincoln MKZ only delivers 21 mpg; the hybrid 39 mpg.

If you sometimes drive on snowy or icy roads, both the MKZ is available with optional AWD; the MKZ hybrid is not available with AWD. The Lincoln MKZ AWD delivers 19 mpg combined; the Lincoln MKS AWD delivers 20 mpg benefitting from a turbocharged 3.5L engine. Speaking of cold, the front seats of these Lincolns can be heated or cooled to individual comfort year round.

If you love the drive, but can’t quite afford the $34,333, then you can save $7,000 and enjoy the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Of course, it won’t hurt to test drive the alternatives from Lexus and others. For premium features, a luxurious drive, and a non-premium price, the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is hard to beat.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Specifications

Hybrid Drive System

  • 2.5L iVCT I-4 Atkinson-cycle engine with permanent-magnet AC-synchronous electric motor
  • 191 net horsepower combined from gasoline engine and 2 electric motors
  • Electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT)
  • 275-volt sealed nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery
  • Regenerative Braking System (also captures downhill energy)
  • 2011 EPA-estimated fuel economy 41city/36hwy/39 combined mpg
  • 17.5-gal.capacity
  • 2011 EPA 4.8 tons CO2e / year source-to-wheels

Power and Handling

  • AdvanceTrac® ESC (electronic stability control) with brake actuated traction control
  • P225/50VR17 Tires
  • 17″ 9-spoke machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets
  • Mini Spare tire and wheel
  • Power four-wheel disc brakes with Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) and electronic brake force distribution and integrated regenerative braking

Interior

  • Heated/Cooled 10-Way Power Front Seats with 2-Way Power Lumbar
  • Fixed Rear Seat
  • Heated/Cooled Front Seats
  • Premium Bridge of Weir Leather-Trimmed Seating Surfaces
  • SYNC® In-car Connectivity System
  • Lincoln Premium Sound System
  • Sirius
  • Genuine Wood Appliquès and Door Trim Accents
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel with genuine wood accents, speed control and redundant audio controls
  • Leather wrapped shifter knob
  • Front and rear floor mats
  • Dual LCD SmartGauge Cluster with EcoGuide
  • MyKey
  • Ambient Lighting
  • 2 front and 2 rear assist handles
  • Cabin air filtration system
  • Rear window defroster
  • 1st-and 2nd- row dome lamps
  • Auto dimming rearview mirror with microphone and compass
  • (2) 12V powerpoints
  • 110V Powerpoint
  • Manual tilt/telescoping steering column
  • Driver and passenger front illuminated visors with mirrors
  • Global open windows (driver/front passenger)-may be opened with key fob
  • 1 touch up/down driver/passenger side window
  • Audio input jack
  • Remote deck lid release
  • EasyFuel™ capless fuel filler
  • Power door locks
  • Remote keyless entry system with trunk release (fob integrated into key)
  • Universal garage door opener
  • Variable speed windshield wipers
  • Dual zone electronic automatic temperature control (DEATC)
  • Front row center stack with adjustable armrest, 2-tier storage with 2 cupholders
  • Cupholders– 8 total
  • Front Floor Center Console
  • Glove Box

Exterior

  • Front bumper mounted fog lamps with bright bezels
  • Quad beam headlamps with autolamp on/off delay controls
  • Available Adaptive HID Headlamps
  • Exterior Mirrors
  • Split wing grille
  • Reverse Sensing System
  • LED taillamps
  • Antenna–mounted on rear portion of roof
  • Windshield–Acoustic laminated glass
  • Solar tinted glass
  • Safety
  • Front Seat Side-Impact Airbags
  • Driver’s Knee Airbag
  • Side Curtain Airbags – First and Second Row
  • Beltminder® System
  • Child safety rear door locks
  • Emergency trunk release
  • LATCH (lower anchors and tether anchors for children) system–2nd row
  • SOS Post CrashAlert System
  • Personal Safety System
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
  • SecuriCode™ keyless entry keypad
  • SecuriCode™ Remote Keyless Entry System
  • Battery Saver
  • Perimeter Anti-theft alarm
  • SecuriLock® Passive Anti-Theft System
Will Hyundai Beat Toyota and Honda in Lithium-Ion Hybrids?

Will Hyundai Beat Toyota and Honda in Lithium-Ion Hybrids?

By Juan Carlos Zuleta (8/12/10)

On March 29, 2009 I asked myself: Why Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC) dislike lithium? My short answer to that question was: Because it was in their own interest to behave this way.

As is well known, these car makers pioneered the use of hybrid technology with nickel metal hydride batteries. Both created the conditions for a very profitable niche market, the hybrid electric vehicle market. So they had much to gain from delaying the arrival of the real electric car revolution since this would help them make more profits out of a rather obsolete but still commercially viable battery technology until the new emerging battery technology is finally introduced into the market. By doing so, they were also contributing to postponing the arrival of the sixth techno-economic paradigm with lithium as its main factor.

But this, of course, was a flawed strategy. In another blog published in April last year I argued that following a rather cautious and conservative approach to a lithium-based transition to electric propulsion in the global car industry implied their lagging behind General Motors insofar as electric automobile technology.

In a Seeking Alpha article published in July 2009, I went on to argue:

“Until now, most analysts thought that there was no real potential for use of Li-ion batteries in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs). They erroneously believed that Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries were the best choice for today’s HEVs, whereas Li-ion batteries were reserved for tomorrow’s Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), Range Extended Electric Vehicles (REEVs) and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs).”

This argument, of course, never made sense. It rested on the unreasonable two-fold assumption that Li-ion batteries are not ready for prime-time and that plug-ins (and, for that matter, REEVs and BEVs) are a scam. For one thing, Hitachi’s notice tears apart the first half of the above contention. For another, Toyota’s latest decision to begin mass-producing PHEVs by 2012 and Nissan’s conviction that “now’s time to go electric” completely demolish the second half of it. Indeed one should not be surprised since PHEVs can be really thought of as an extension of HEVs. So if Li-ion batteries are to be used quite soon in plug-ins and both range-extended and battery EVs, then why not utilize them now for conventional hybrids as well?”

And I then concluded:

“Given both GM’s re-launch and Nissan’s renewed financial situation after having been granted a $ 1,6 billion loan to develop advanced Li-ion batteries for its new pure electric car, to retain its largest share in the automobile market of the world, Toyota will probably need to modify significantly its current conservative business strategy.”

As of now, both Toyota and Honda appear to have made some progress in this regard. Toyota has already launched its first 500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) with Li-ion batteries for testing in Japan, North America and Europe and has recently announced that as part of its new partnership with Tesla it will mass-produce a new version of the all-electric RAV4 also with such advanced battery technology. Honda’s new CEO announced a few weeks ago that in the next-generation Civic Hybrid to be launched in 2011 it will use Li-ion batteries supplied by Blue Energy, a joint venture company between GS Yuasa and Honda.

The question is now whether these efforts will be enough to prevent Hyundai (HYMLF.PK) from leapfrogging them in the hybrid electric car market following its recent announcement that later this year it will launch the 2011 Sonata Hybrid, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid with a lithium-ion battery pack. And the most obvious answer at this point is: Probably not.

So this leads us to a new query: Will Toyota and Honda rethink their business strategy now so as to finally become more aggressive in terms of using Li-ion batteries in their next different car models? And my humble opinion is that chances are they will.

New Lincoln Beats Lexus in Luxury Hybrid Car Battle

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.

2010 Top 10 Hybrid Car Report

Lexus HS 250h – Test Driving a Hybrid Car

Lexus HS 250h – Test Driving a Hybrid Car

By John Addison (3/26/10)
Since Toyota and Lexus have been getting some bad press for acceleration and braking problems, I had to discover the truth. I put on my helmut and accelerated the Lexus HS 250h on to the track at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The production of this premium hybrid had been temporarily halted during the big recall. The Lexus hybrid basically uses the same regen braking system as the Prius and Camry Hybrid.

The Lexus hybrid has four modes – Eco, Normal, EV, and Power. If you are into Eco or if you’re Normal, don’t get on a racetrack with thirty other auto journalists in Viper Coupes, Audi and BMW turbodiesels, Mercedes AMGs, Corvettes, and Mustang Shelby GT500s. Don’t get on a track where the drivers are loaded with caffeine and pumped with adrenaline. If you’re normal, don’t go on a racetrack. Being not quite normal, I touched the Power button.

The Lexus hybrid has plenty of acceleration. As I approach the Andretti Hairpin, I hit the brakes. OK Toyota and Lexus, acceleration and braking work fine. Going through the 180-degree hairpin the hybrid handles well. Smooth, tight, no skidding. As I approach Turn 3, I’ve got to remember what the driving instructor told me: stay to the left, start the sharp turn at the last second, and accelerate through the turn. It worked!

Now I get enough straightaway to accelerate. The Lexus HS 250h picks-up speed well. It is rated 0 to 60 in 8.4 seconds. Using a two-motor hybrid system, the HS 250h uses a 141 hp drive motor that combines with the 147 hp gas engine. Of course, a couple of the adrenaline-pumped guys in their 400 hp race cars pass me. It’s not really the fault of the Lexus; it’s more that I’m thinking how I’d like to survive the next 90-degree turn. I promised my wife that I’d be home for dinner, as opposed to spending the night in the Monterey hospital.

The Lexus hybrid continues to perform well as I accelerate through tight turns. The brakes also work well as I hit them approaching the Corkscrew, a malicious turn that at the peak of a hill takes you 70-degrees left sharply downhill, and then adds more turns. As I enter the Corkscrew, what scares me is that all I can see is the sky. I turn left, aim for the scrawny oak, going downhill I can finally see the road, and complete the turn. I accelerate a little through the next turn and set-up the sequence of turns where the instructor told me that I will not need to brake again. Right. I brake and take the Rainey Curve, then accelerate. I release my death grip on the wheel.

After three laps around the track, each lap with 11 turns including the Corkscrew, I bring the Lexus HS 250h into the pits. Its handling was impressive, the hybrid had all the acceleration that I would want in getting on a freeway, or in passing a slow truck on a two-lane road, and the brakes definitely work.

Luxury car buyers now longer need to sacrifice mileage. The Lexus HS250h gives you the image of success, luxury features, and a hybrid that delivers 35 miles per gallon. Only four other hybrids offer better fuel economy. You will notice premium appointments in the leather trim, one-touch moonroof, and a rich sound system. The base model starts at $34,200. The model I drove had a navigation system, luxury leather and walnut trim interior, sports suspension and 18 inch wheels. It cost $39,993.

If you can afford a Lexus, then you can afford $3,900 for an added safety technology package is available that includes a pre-collision system, parking assist, wide-view front monitor, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. If you care about safety, touch the Eco button, enjoy the ride, and stay off racetracks with hairpin and corkscrew turns.

2010 Lexus HS 250h Premium Hybrid Car with Best MPG

2010 Lexus HS 250h Premium Hybrid Car with Best MPG

By John Addison (updated 3/31/10; original 3/26/10)

Summary

Luxury car buyers now longer need to sacrifice mileage. The Lexus HS250h gives you the image of success, luxury features, and a hybrid that delivers 35 miles per gallon. Only four other hybrids offer better fuel economy, none with what Lexus bills as a luxury car. You will notice premium appointments in the leather trim, one-touch moonroof, and the quiet ride resulting from added noise insulation. Basically this compact premium 4-door sedan uses the Camry drive system, but seats 5 with more luxury appointments than available in a Camry or Prius. Use half the gas of many luxury cars. This new Lexus was designed to exclusively be a hybrid; there is no 250 non-hybrid.

Mileage & Carbon Footprint

  • 35 miles per gallon (mpg) overall
  • 34 mpg highway
  • 35 mpg city
  • 5.3 tons CO2e carbon emissions per year

Price

  • $34,200 starting
  • $45,000 if loaded with entertainment, navigation, luxury touring package, and safety technology

Hybrid Drive System

Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive engages an electric motor, a gasoline engine, or both to keep you moving with front-wheel drive. The Lexus 250 hybrid incorporates a drive-mode switch that allows the driver to select between four modes: Normal, Power, Eco and EV. Most of the time, you will probably want to be in Eco mode to save gas yet have performance. Touch Power for freeway acceleration or passing a slow truck on a two-lane road. EV mode will let you travel a short distance in silence with only the electric motor engaged, receiving electricity from the NiMH battery pack. Most of the time, both electric motor and the 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine are working together to improve fuel efficiency. In this automatic, acceleration is smoothly managed by the electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT). Using a two-motor hybrid system, the HS 250h uses a 141 hp drive motor that combines with the 147 hp gas engine. A second motor in the hybrid system serves as both engine starter and generator to charge the hybrid battery pack.

Green Features

The greenest feature is the hybrid drive system that delivers 35 mpg. The 2010 Lexus HS 250h lets you touch a button to select the EV Mode to run in electric-only mode for less than 1 mile if the battery is fully charged or ECO Mode to drive with the best fuel economy over a distance. Added fuel savings involves an Exhaust Heat Recovery System that captures the heat of spent exhaust gases to speed engine coolant warm-up and allow the hybrid system to stop the engine earlier and more often in the driving cycle when it’s not needed, giving this Lexus better fuel economy in the city than on the highway. Overall, the system can improve fuel efficiency by as much as seven percent in low ambient temperatures.

Although the Lexus HS 250h looks like a conventional sedan, it saves fuel by being aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of .27, close to the .25 of the Prius. To be more eco-friendly, bioplastic from plant sources is the raw material for parts of the interior upholstery, injection-molded, foam and board components including trunk compartment trim, cowl side trim, door scuff plates, seat cushions and the package tray. Overall, approximately 30 percent of the combined interior and trunk are covered in bioplastic.

Space

As a compact you get good handling and performance, but this compact four-door sedan is a bit snug, especially in the back seat. The Lexus HS250h provides 90 cubic feet of space for up to 5 people, and 12 cubic feet of trunk space.

Safety

After selling 18,000 of these Lexus hybrids, production was temporarily stopped during the Toyota recall.  This Lexus uses the Prius regen brake system. During my drive the brakes worked fine. The Lexus HS250h uses the Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB2) system with regenerative control and incorporating Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

For $3,900 an added safety technology package is available that includes a pre-collision system, parking assist, wide-view front monitor, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. This safety technology package requires the optional $2,125 Navigation System includes a GPS navigation with realtime traffic feeds and voice recognition. An optional $350 backup monitor is available.

The Lexus HS 250h achieved almost all 5-stars in the U.S. NHTSA crash tests, with 5-stars for frontal driver, side driver, frontal passenger, and rear passenger; 4-stars for roll-over. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Lexus HS250h its best rating for front crash test. Other IIHS tests have not been conducted on this new car.

Future

At this March 2010 New York International Auto Show, Lexus is showing off the Lexus CT 200h sportback hybrid. You may be able to place your order in early 2011. This is another hybrid-only Lexus offering. Fuel economy may be better than the 250h, because the 200h uses a smaller 1.8L engine, the same size as the Prius. “The CT 200h is expected to lead the class in fuel economy and deliver low emissions, but the CT 200h isn’t just about being a hybrid, it’s about having fun,” said Mark Templin, Lexus division group vice president and general manager. In future years, plug-in hybrid Lexus models are likely to be introduced. Lexus, a Division of Toyota, could easily incorporate the drive system of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

Other Cars to Investigate

Lexus RX 450h is a premium hybrid SUV with room for 5 people and much more cargo room than the 250h sedan, but starts at over $42,000. For a powerful SUV, it still conserves with 30 mpg and 6.1 tons of CO2e. Unlike the Lexus HS 250 hybrid, the SUV has an AWD option.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is a smooth riding traditional 4-door midsized sedan that is made in America. It offers more room than the Lexus HS250h, easily seats 5, better fuel economy at 41 mpg city, 39 mpg combined, a number of safety features, premium options, but is likely to price $7,000 to $10,000 more than the Lexus hybrid when orders can be placed in the fall of 2010. Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid has essentially the same hybrid drive system as the Lexus HS 250h and about the same mileage. The Camry has 101 cubic feet of passenger space making it a midsize, bigger than 90 cubic feet for the compact Lexus hybrid. The Camry hybrid also offers a 40/60 drop down rear seat for expanded cargo. The Camry Hybrid prices about $8,000 less than the Lexus HS 250h.

Clean Fleet Report 2010 Top 10 Hybrids