The redesigned MKZ Hybrid is a vital part of Lincoln's effort to return to relevance as a desirable and truly upscale luxury brand. Possessing the elegant exterior and high-tech cabin of the standard MKZ along with a 45-mpg (!) gas-electric powertrain, the MKZ Hybrid has the potential to change consumer perceptions of Lincoln for the better. Bucking recent industry trends, Lincoln offers the MKZ Hybrid at the same price as the normal sedan.
Helping the hybrid in its efficiency mission is an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder motor that sends power to the front wheels via a CVT. A 70-kilowatt electric motor provides extra power and can propel the car on its own for short distances at speeds of up to 62 mph hour, provided that the driver has an extremely light right foot.
Total system output is 188 horsepower, down an insignificant three ponies from the last-gen model, while fuel economy rises from 41/36 city/highway mpg to 45/45 mpg. Those numbers are strong enough to make the MKZ Hybrid the most efficient model in its class.
Visually, the hybrid is nearly identical to the standard MKZ. The sedan's elegant appearance is highlighted by a gently sloping C-pillar that, in some ways, recalls the Audi A7. An ultra-high decklid peaks with an integrated spoiler before descending into a wide-swept LED tail lamp bar, below which there's a rear diffuser with a quartet of integrated square tail pipes. Up front, the MKZ Hybrid features a more refined version of Lincoln's signature front fascia and highly-pointed head lamps.
Inside, the new MKZ Hybrid ditches the awkward retro theme of its predecessor in favor of an understated yet premium-looking and high-tech cabin. In place of a gear lever is a five-button interface dubbed Push Button Shift. A 10.1-inch LCD instrument cluster replaces traditional gauges, while an eight-inch TFT LCD in the center of the dashboard features the latest version of MyLincoln Touch and Sync.
Uniquely, the MKZ Hybrid can be ordered with an enormous 15.2-square foot glass panel that retracts at the push of a button to reveal a wide and large opening.
A "SmartGauge with EcoGuide" system features a number of graphics and readouts to help drivers achieve maximum fuel efficiency. For example, a brake coach function teaches how to capture as much battery-recharging energy through the regenerative brakes as possible, while a different graphic rewards efficient driving with white flowers (inspired by apple blossoms) that accumulate over the course of a journey.
Standard and Optional Features
The MKZ Hybrid can be had with a choice of four "equipment groups" (that's Lincoln-speak for trim levels).
The entry-level Premier equipment group includes leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, genuine wood trim, adaptive LED headlights, an 11-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start and 18-inch painted aluminum wheels.
The Select equipment group adds a rear view camera, rear park sensors, a wood steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, HD radio, accent lights for the headlights and an electrochromic exterior driver-side mirror.
The Reserve equipment group brings a navigation system with voice recognition, perforated leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a blind spot information system with cross traffic alert, a power-closing trunk and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Finally, the range-topping Preferred equipment group ups the luxury quotient with a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a 14-speaker, 700-watt THX premium audio system, premium floor mats, a 110V powerpoint and the buyer's choice of single panel moonroof or retractable panoramic roof.
An optional technology packing includes Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise control and Park Assist, which can actually automatically parallel park the car - the system steers the car into the spot, while the driver simply controls the gas and brakes.
Notably, many of the features on the higher trim levels can be had as individual options throughout the rest of the MKZ Hybrid range.
All MKZ Hybrid models come standard with dual front, front side, front knee and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
As enumerated above, optional safety features include Lane Keeping Assist and blind sport warning with cross traffic alert.
The MKZ Hybrid's primary rival is the Lexus ES 300h, although the Buick Regal with the mild-hybrid eAssist powertrain represents a cheaper (albeit far less efficient) alternative.