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2011 MKZ Hybrid Review – The Cost of Driving Green Just Got More Affordable

Monday November 29th, 2010 at 11:1111 AM
Posted by: Derek

Pros:

  • Same price as MKZ with V6 gas engine
  • SYNC® In-car Connectivity System is standard
  • Better fuel economy than the Lexus HS 250h

Cons:

  • Interior of base trim model not much improvement over Ford Fusion
  • Utterly uninspiring econo-drone in the cockpit when accelerating hard

Gas prices have been as volatile as the speculative housing market and experts assure us both will be rebounding, though nobody knows exactly when. Investing in the market now, though it might seem counter-intuitive, could set you up for a handsome reward in the future. The same goes for buying a new fuel-efficient automobile. If you purchase a hybrid vehicle today, when demand for fuel-sippers is relatively modest, you’ll probably end up getting a better deal on the car and you’re also insulating yourself from future spikes in gasoline prices. Think of it as an automotive tax shelter, but without the sleazy real estate agents and enormous subprime mortgage scandals. For those looking to buy a luxury sedan with the exceptional fuel economy of a hybrid, the MKZ Hybrid is a logical choice.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid interior

The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid manages to set the fuel-economy bar several notches higher, thanks to a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and electric motor combo. Combined, the powerplants develop 191 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 135 lb-ft of torque at 2,250 rpm, but thanks to the clever gearing of the CVT gearbox and the fact that the hybrid can cruise on all-electric power at speeds up to 47 mph, the car can deliver 41 mpg city, according to the EPA. Hop on the highway, and the Feds say that the MKZ Hybrid is good for 36 mpg.

The SmartGauge display enriches the eco-oriented driving experience, with four levels of information from the twin 4.3-inch, high-resolution LCD displays that flank the analog speedometer. Similar to the display used in the Ford Fusion Hybrid, but changed from a predominantly blue color scheme to what Lincoln officials describes as a more upscale-looking green and gold. Fuel-conscious drivers are rewarded with green leaves and blossoming white buds as long-term fuel efficiency increases.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid SmartGauge

Once you get past the SmartGauge and pay attention to the powertrain that’s being monitored so effectively, there’s even more to love. This MKZ Hybrid can cruise on electric power alone at speeds up to 47 mph and the car frequently switches to EV mode once you reach cruising speed. We loved the seamless transition between gas and electric propulsion and we also thought the MKZ felt the most like a normal car. Consider the MKZ to be our choice for driving enthusiasts and eco-minded drivers alike.

Driving Impressions
With the emphasis on fuel economy, we lowered our expectations and fully braced for a limp-noodle version of the  V6 car, but the new Atkinson-cycle sedan turns out to be anything but a slug. Acceleration is more than adequate for a four-door of this size – you’re not going to win any stoplight drag races, but you won’t be swearing at the car when merging, either. The capable 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine hops into the fray when it comes time for a quick pass or accelerating to join the murderous ranks of I-101 traffic around the San Francisco bay area. Our only complaint might be the utterly uninspiring econo-drone in the cockpit when accelerating hard – credit the CVT for much of that. At low speeds, the electric motor silently whisks us along without want for power. Even with our blatant disregard for the car’s eco gauge, we managed to attain more than 38 mpg during mixed driving.

Almost a True Luxury Car
Lincoln clearly wants to differentiate itself from the rest of the luxury pack by introducing a hybrid that’s both affordable and a segment leader in terms of fuel economy. To that end, it has succeeded, but the sedan’s cabin needs more work if the brand intends to contend with the titans of the market. A smart buyer will see right through the chromium-free, organic tanned leather and real wood trim to realize that the MKZ Hybrid is little more than a dressed up Ford Fusion Hybrid with better seats and interior pieces made from sustainable materials. Of course, something similar could be said of the Lexus HS 250h and the Toyota Prius. We just feel that the MKZ Hybrid is a better buy over other luxury hybrid sedans.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2011 Lincoln Mercury MKZ Hybrid

Price: $34,330 (note: base price is same price as V6 model)

Powertrain:
Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4
Power: 156 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 136 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm

Electric Motor:
Type: 400v permanent magnet AC motor
Power: 106 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 166 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm

Battery:
Type: 275v Nickel-Metal Hydride
Output: 35 hp
System Total Power: 191 hp
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
Wheels, Tires: 17-inch aluminum, 225/50VR17

Measurements:
Wheelbase: 107.4″
L x W x H: 198.8″ x 72.2″ x 56.8″
Legroom F/R: 42.3″/36.7″
Headroom F/R: 38.7″/37.8″
Passenger volume: 99 cu ft
Trunk capacity: 11.8 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3720 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 41/36 mpg


Lincoln logoOfficial website for Lincoln cars, hybrids, and SUVs – www.lincoln.com

2 Responses to 2011 MKZ Hybrid Review – The Cost of Driving Green Just Got More Affordable

  1. francois says:

    Lincoln is amazing these days. Seems like a great example of how to turn a brand around.

    But does anybody actually like those front grills?





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