Launched late last year, the redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid offers substantially improved fuel economy over the 2012 model and is a significant component in the Ford division’s plans to improve its market position.
The midsize luxury car, Lincoln notes, is the first Lincoln created by a dedicated team in its new Lincoln Design Studio. In fact, it’s based on the also snappy looking Ford Fusion platform and hybrid powertrain while returning a couple miles per gallon less in its EPA rating.
The MKZ has several upgrades not offered on the Fusion, however, including larger brake rotors and calipers, magnetorheological suspension, an improved insulation package, and acoustic side glass.
Also available in a 3.7-liter V6 version, and 2.0-liter EcoBoost version, Lincoln’s hybrid version is the first hybrid offered without a price premium over the base model, and it has nearly all options available on it that are available on the gas versions..
“All hybrids are not available with all the options of their non-hybrid-powered models, but the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is,” says Lincoln in a press release. Actually, one feature not available is all-wheel-drive, which is available on the regular gas versions.
Nonetheless the Lincoln is feature packed, and in its sites are the Lexus ES 300 h, against which it boasts superior EPA-rated fuel economy, as it does against other competitors that lag further behind the Lexus.
In a class where perception is half the battle, the Lincoln brand has lagged behind for years now, but this new car has high hopes riding on it. Lincoln has taken steps to bring it to market with technologies, style and quality materials while pricing it below many luxury competitors.
The 188-total horsepower hybrid system relies on a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle engine married to a 47-horsepower electric motor. It uses lighter lithium-ion batteries and boasts 45 mpg in city, highway, and thus combined driving cycles.
The new MKZ is much sharper looking than the rather tired-looking previous version – which incidentally only got 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway – so the new car does have a leg up on that score as well.
Riding on a 112.2-inch wheelbase, its dimensions are close to those of the Fusion, but the upscale model attempts a futuristic and swoopy look with split grille up front said to hearken to a 1937 Lincoln Zephyr which first featured this design element. In back the tail lights traverse the rear.
Really though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you can see the car yourself and decide how it turned out, and what you think of it.
Some reviewers have said the car looks great, others have said it looks ambiguous with a hodge podge of elements cobbled together. Actually, that could be said of a lot of cars, and overall, we think the car is handsome enough.
Of course, if you disagree, that is entirely your prerogative. We’ll note also one of its chief competitors is from its own parent company. The Fusion Hybrid stole its front grille design not from a legacy model, but from a contemporary and chic Aston Martin. Plus, it too boasts an integrated, aerodynamic and purposeful look in a competent package that can be complemented with a lot of options to bring it close to what the Lincoln offers, but for less money, but we digress.
The luxury tech theme is one thing you get more of in the Lincoln though, and the designers took pains to echo the exterior’s elements into the inside of the car for a cohesive presentation.
The instrument panel sweeps in its form, and an open center console is intended to create a suitable environment that works as pleasingly as it is intended to look.
The hybrid utilizes Lincoln’s SmartGauge® with EcoGuide to encourage sensible fuel usage by displaying the growth of virtual leaves, vines and flowers on the system’s right-side screen. These leaves grow to indicate short-term rewards and flowers grow to indicate long-term rewards.
For more info on that and related MKZ Hybrid-exclusive technologies, here’s a pdf from Lincoln.
Ahead of the driver is a full-color 10.1-inch LCD instrument cluster which operates with the latest version of SYNC with MyLincoln Touch.
Leather covers all seating surfaces and blended into the decor is “responsibly harvested” wood and metal tined surfaces.
The sound system naturally has some boasting rights. In this case and 11-speaker audiophile entertainment system is standard and optionally available is a THX® II Certified Car Audio System features 700 watts, 14 channels and 14 speakers. Lincoln says this is an exclusive to the brand, and audio engineers spent 200 hours custom tuning the speaker positioning to give you a home theater quality acoustic experience on the road.
But what really matters with a car is how it works on the road, right? Departing from customary hybrid car practice, this one rides on 18-inch V-rated all-season tires, not the low rolling resistance variety.
Power for the hybrid is not as grunty as the medium-sized six that also sees duty in versions of the Ford Mustang and F-150 pickup, but the hybrid powertrain is assisted with electric torque to even out the power delivery for suitable performance. Its 188 horsepower is a bit less than the 200 offered by its nemesis from Lexus, however.
The magnetorheological suspension evens out the roughness common on so many interstates, and ride steering and handling are a far cry ahead of floaty Lincolns of yesteryear.
Called “Lincoln Drive Control,” the company says this technology orchestrates the performance of the Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension – which monitors the car’s suspension settings up to 500 times per second – and the electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), engine, transmission, Active Noise Control (ANC), traction control and stability control systems.
Active Noise Control” electrically picks up sounds in the engine compartment, processes them, then streams them in adjusted form through the audio system, even if you have the the volume turned down.
The system essentially tricks your senses, and is said to make the ride more hushed.
Tech, Safety, Extras
The vehicle comes with adaptive LED headlights, and a a host of safety tech, including a Lane Keeping System consisting of Lane Keeping Aid, Lane Keeping Alert and Driver Assist – see pdf for more detailed info.
In short, the system uses a mono-vision camera in the rear view mirror to read lane markers up ahead.
More details on this tech can be found in this pdf from Lincoln.
Also available is radar-based (ultrasonic) driving aids. Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support each use a long-range radar system that scans in front of the vehicle, automatically adjusting to traffic speed and providing a visual and audible alert when a potential front-end collision is detected.
Active park assist and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert use multiple short-range wide-angle radar sensors. Each function provides a distinct benefit, ranging from making parallel parking easier to warning of oncoming vehicles while backing out of a parking space.
The base MSRP for the MKZ Hybrid is, as mentioned, the same for the 2.0 EcoBoost, $35,925 plus an $875 delivery and destination charge.