The Ford Fusion Hybrid remains one of the best choices in the mid-size segment. Comfortable, efficient, good-looking, and reasonably entertaining to drive. For around $29,000, it’s a solid choice.
What’s that? This isn’t a Fusion but a Lincoln MKZ? And it costs $38,000? Ouch. That’s another story. Simply put, this Lincoln offers absolutely nothing you don’t get in the Ford. The interior is no nicer, the suspension tuning feels no different, the engine is no more powerful. It pales in comparison to a Buick LaCrosse, which isn’t exactly a shining star, in my opinion. Up against an all-wheel-drive Volvo S60? Forget it. Which reminds me: Why doesn’t Lincoln have a version of the Volvo S60? Wasn’t that car developed under the auspices of the very same Ford Motor Company that has turned out this very efficient, but very unconvincing luxury sedan? The fact that Volvo’s new Chinese owners have a stellar premium mid-size car to sell while the company that invested in its development has nothing to compete with it is an incredibly bitter irony.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
This MKZ is a prime example of why American automakers are struggling. Just because Ford did a great job with the Fusion does not mean that it can slap a new badge on it and create a Lincoln. If Ford wants to buff Lincoln’s brand image, this was a poor choice. I’m left feeling good only about the hybrid aspect.
– Kelly Ryan Murphy, Creative Director
The MKZ’s hybrid powertrain is just as user-friendly as it is in the MKZ’s corporate twin, the Ford Fusion Hybrid. There’s a nicely laid out set of gauges in the center cluster that help you monitor fuel economy, including the requisite digital “tree” that grows more pretty green leaves the more efficiently you drive. And, since this is a Lincoln, there are plenty of creature comforts in the cabin, including a great stereo. On paper, the MKZ Hybrid has everything a reasonably affluent person who wants to make an environmental statement with their luxury car might want.
Except one thing: pizzaz. The MKZ is handsome enough, but in an anodyne way. There is just nothing about this car that visually snaps or sizzles. It is, quite frankly, boring. The powertrain is cool; now the wrapper needs to be as interesting and appealing as the offerings from two of Lincoln’s target competitors, Cadillac and Audi.
– Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
Here’s one reason to buy an MKZ Hybrid: price. Unlike the standard business model that has automakers jacking up the sticker price to compensate for the extra cost of a hybrid system, the MKZ Hybrid starts at $35,180 — exactly the same price as a base MKZ with the 3.5-liter V-6. Perhaps more importantly, the MKZ Hybrid is roughly the same price as a Lexus HS250h, yet is much more enjoyable to drive.
I wouldn’t exactly call the interior decor used in the MKZ class-leading, but it is an improvement over what is offered in the Fusion. Some accents — including the door trim and wood appliques — are handsome, but as Joe DeMatio mentions, it lacks the flair needed to woo the typical luxury buyer. Thankfully, Ford executives aren’t turning a blind eye to this issue. CEO Alan Mulally has indicated that the company is focusing on injecting the premium look and feel Lincoln so desperately needs.
– Evan McCausland, Web Producer
Joe’s description of the MKZ hybrid’s “anodyne” handsomeness is pretty accurate. It is sleek, acceptable, attractive, just not hot. So let’s bring on that sizzle. Because actually, I think there’s plenty of steak here.
P.S. Is that squealing brake noise manufactured to warn pedestrians that there’s an electric car next to them? Because it sure is embarrassing pulling up to a tollbooth or ticket booth in a parking lot.
– Jean Jennings
I had the MKZ Hybrid over Halloween weekend and achieved an indicated 29 mpg over 175 miles of mixed driving, which was disappointing, considering the 41/36 mpg city/highway EPA ratings and given how anxious the car is to switch to EV mode around town. The most efficient method of driving seems to be to accelerate up to speed in town using both power sources and then lift off the gas pedal to shift it into EV mode, which is able to maintain speeds of up to about 40 mph on its own, sort of a takeoff on hypermilers’ “pulse and glide” approach.
It’s good the Lincoln isn’t charging a premium for the hybrid versus the base V-6 car, but this price still seems a little steep for a vehicle that’s fairly clearly a Ford Fusion Hybrid with fancier clothing. I think the Fusion’s suspension set up is more sporty, too, which gives me even less reason to favor the MKZ over the Ford.
– Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
When I first drove the Ford Fusion Hybrid, I was really impressed. In fact, I couldn’t think of a compelling reason to buy a Fusion without the hybrid drivetrain. Similarly, with the MKZ, there’s really no reason to consider the V-6 car.
Lincoln is in a very vulnerable position. The demise of Mercury signals a lot more money and attention are headed to the Lincoln brand, but there isn’t a compelling Lincoln product you can buy today. I am confident Ford has the talent to produce great luxury cars because they have been getting a lot of the small things right with new products and you can’t miss the small stuff on a luxury car. Sadly, we have to wait several years to see a real Lincoln in showrooms in place of these badge-engineered Ford vehicles.
I could spend a lot of time detailing the shortcomings of the MKZ as a Lincoln. I’d rather celebrate how good the hybrid powertrain is during real world driving. I get excited each time the car shuts off the gas engine and maintains speed around town on electric power. I never feel like the hybrid aspect of the car is a just gimmick, and I can see the benefits each time I drive the car.
– Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Base price (with destination): $35,180
Price as tested: $37,925
2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
Continuously variable transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Sync voice activated system
17-inch machined aluminum wheels
Heated power mirrors
AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Heated and cooled front seats
Sirius satellite radio
Options on this vehicle:
Rapid Spec 201A — $3595
BLIS with cross-traffic alert
Rearview video camera
THX II sound system with 5.1 surround sound
Key options not on vehicle:
Rapid Spec 202A — $5695
Rapid Spec 201A plus:
Voice activated navigation
In-dash single DVD/CD/MP3 player
DVD audio and DVD video capability
10 GB music jukebox
Adaptive HID headlamps
Fuel economy: 41/36/39 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 2.5L Atkinson-cycle Hybrid I-4
Horsepower: 156 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 136 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm
Electric motor: 35 hp
Total system: 191 hp
Transmission: Continuously variable
Curb weight: 3752 lb
Wheels/tires: 17-inch machined aluminum wheels, 225/50R17 Michelin Energy MXV4 all-season tires