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

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