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2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Review

2011-lincoln-mkz-hybrid.jpgThe Lincoln MKZ Hybrid: Affordable Luxury and 41 MPG

Lincoln’s first foray into the hybrid market is the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

The MKZ uses the same engine and motors as its corporate counterparts, the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Specifically, the MKZ has a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine and two electric motors, which combined produce 191 horsepower. Fuel economy is 41 MPG city.

Being a Lincoln, you would expect some extravagant features. And Ford did not skimp.  Car and Driver noted that “Lincoln’s take on the Ford hybrid theme, of course, [is] much better equipped than either of its less-expensive brethren.” The car comes with Bridge of Weir leather-trimmed seats, walnut trim, heated and cooled seats, a keyless entry system, rain-sensing wipers, Ford’s BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System), and Ford’s SYNC® voice-activated technology

In an initial test drive, Car and Driver said the MKZ drives the same as its highly rated cousin the 2010 Ford Fusion. In particular, the reviewer noted “you can drive it for fun, or for mileage, which is also fun.”

Some reviewers noted that the car was more pleasant to drive and quieter than competitors, such as the Lexus HS250h. Relating to that quieter noise level, one reviewer said the MKZ had a “library-like ambience.”

Pricing is an interesting point with the MKZ. The MKZ carries the same $35,180 base price ($34,330 MSRP plus an $850 destination charge) as the non-hybrid V-6 MKZ. This is quite uncommon. Normally, when a hybrid version of an existing car is made available, manufacturers charge a higher price for the comparable hybrid.

Driving Smarter

2011-lincoln-hybrid-mkz-interior.jpgThe MKZ includes Ford’s SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide. This feature provides real-time feedback about fuel and battery use allowing drivers to assess or modify their driving habits to achieve maximum fuel economy. Essentially, the gauge reinforces good driving patterns to improve mileage.

To make use of the SmartGauge technology, a driver can select one of four screens where each successive screen has more information than the previous one. In Ford’s terminology, the first level “informs” the driver, displaying fuel level and battery charge status. The second “enlightens” the driver, adding an electric vehicle mode indicator and a tachometer. The third level “engages” the driver, adding information about engine output and battery output power. And the fourth level “empowers” the driver, providing information about power to the wheels, engine pull-up threshold, and accessory power consumption.

Long-term fuel efficiency can be displayed in two ways – either as a traditional chart or using a display that shows “growing leaves and vines.” The more efficient a driver is, “the more lush and beautiful the leaves and vines, creating a visual reward for the driver’s efforts,” says Ford.

One difference between the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ implementations of the SmartGauge with EcoGuide is in the floral display. “Lincoln’s version uses white flowers inspired by apple blossoms,” according to Motor Trend.

The combination of high MPG, luxury features, good driving characteristics, and advanced technologies makes the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid quite a good package. As Popular Mechanics put it in its test drive article: “Lincoln clearly [wanted] to differentiate itself from the rest of the pseudo-luxury pack [with] a hybrid that’s both affordable and a segment leader in terms of fuel economy. To that end, it has succeeded.”
A video showing how the SmartGauge with EcoGuide works can be found here.

A Ford YouTube video discussing other technologies in the car can be viewed here.

By Jeff Carey

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