As entry-level luxury hybrids go, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (Base MSRP: $34,645)
is tough to beat. Although it's based on the cheaper, mainstream 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid (Base MSRP: $28,600) -- the two have identical hybrid drivetrains -- the Lincoln's smooth ride and stellar fuel economy put it ahead of most other entry-level luxury offerings. The 2011 Lexus CT 200h (Base MSRP: $29,120 to $30,900) and 2011 Lexus HS250h ( Base MSRP: $35,600 to $38,370) are the only real direct hybrid competitors, but they offer the neither the passenger space nor performance of the Lincoln. The MKZ Hybrid has no cost premium over the regular V6-powered MKZ, which should be attractive to those who want a hybrid but don't want to fork over the extra cash for it. The primary downfall of the MKZ Hybrid is that the cheaper Ford Fusion Hybrid offers the same great fuel economy and a similar driving experience at a much lower base price.
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid employs the same powertrain as the Ford Fusion Hybrid, meaning that the front wheels are driven by a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine coupled to an electric motor powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Autoblog.com says there's enough power to keep the MKZ Hybrid from being "out of breath while jousting with beltway traffic or accelerating for a pass," and they also say that "buyers really don't have to sacrifice when it comes to opting for better fuel economy," because of the ample power and smoothness. It achieves better fuel economy: the EPA estimates that the MKZ Hybrid will get 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway/39 mpg combined, which is excellent for a car of this size. For comparison, the 2011 Lexus CT 200h does slightly better but is also smaller and less powerful.
The MKZ Hybrid's continuously variable transmission helps the hybrid powertrain achieve this efficiency, though some reviewers don't like its gearless action under full throttle, which can lead to a droning engine noise and somewhat slow response. Many buyers will find consolation in that the hybrid engine/CVT configuration allows the MKZ Hybrid to be powered by only electricity at speeds up to 47 mph under the right conditions (i.e. be very gentle with your right foot).
The MKZ Hybrid also delivers a high quality ride for driver and passenger. Edmunds.com says the MKZ Hybrid "offers a more engaging driving experience than most other hybrid sedans," citing its tighter suspension tuning and linear brake pedal action. A Los Angeles Times reviewer calls the ride quality "smooth," explaining that the "suspension struck a nice balance between a cloud-like disconnect from the road and sporty stiffness with too much feedback."
Reviewers find the interior comfortable, but the quality of the material not quite up to par when compared to other nonhybrid cars in this price range. While Edmunds.com calls the interior "pleasantly spacious for front and rear passengers," they say the interior quality is nearly the same as the much cheaper Ford Fusion Hybrid and that it's "certainly not up to Lexus standards." Similarly, Popular Mechanics finds that "the interior falls far short of what we've come to expect from Ford's designers." The MKZ Hybrid's standard features include Ford's excellent SYNC voice-operated infotainment system, leather upholstery and heated/ventilated front seats. Optional equipment includes a 14-speaker audio system and adaptive headlights.
The exterior styling doesn't offend any reviewers, but some critics do find it too staid.
The MKZ Hybrid has a smaller trunk than the traditional gas version, as is usually the case with hybrids because of their battery packs. Trunk cargo capacity is 11.8 cubic feet, which is fairly good when compared with other hybrid sedans, but not particularly impressive overall. Compact sedans like the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze offer roomier trunks
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid gets very good crash test results from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The IIHS gives the MKZ Hybrid its Top Safety Pick designation, which means that it scored the highest rating of "Good" in frontal offset, rear, side and roof strength impact testing. The NHTSA gives the MKZ Hybrid a 4 star out of a possible 5 for overall safety, with side impact and rollover resistance tests receiving a 4 star out of 5 rating, and it received a 3 star out of 5 rating for frontal impact crashworthiness. Standard safety equipment includes stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and blind-spot detection.
About.com reviewer Aaron Gold summarizes what most critics say about the MKZ Hybrid, saying that "the MKZ hits all the high notes -- well-finished cabin, responsive handling, quiet and refined ride, and fantastic fuel economy -- and has few faults." Aside from undistinguished interior quality for a luxury car and the somewhat blas? exterior design, the hardest thing for shoppers to swallow will be that the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid is fundamentally the same car, costing thousands of dollars less. When compared to other entry-level luxury-brand hybrid cars, critics say the Lincoln represents solid value for the money, and Autoblog.com says that "the MKZ Hybrid has no problem besting its closest competitor, the Lexus HS 250h, in every way."
In entry-level luxury hybrids, the Lincoln MKZ should be "the top choice for shoppers," according to Edmunds.com. Excellent fuel economy, a spacious passenger compartment, Ford's SYNC system and composed ride quality all lead Edmunds.com editors to this conclusion. Their only reservation is that the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid on which it is based has much the same performance at a lower price.
Review: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Editors of Edmunds.com
2. Car and Driver
Car and Driver named the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid one of their 10 Best cars, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is the same car in most respects. They say that next to its nearest competitor, the 2011 Lexus HS 250h, the Lincoln is clearly the better car for its smooth powertrain and more composed ride quality. They consider the MKZ Hybrid a good value.
Review: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – Quick Spin, Steve Siler, Sept. 2010
The subtitle of the article is "Shows other luxury hybrids how it's done," and this serves as an apt summary for how Autoblog.com reviewer Zach Bowman sees the MKZ Hybrid. The only disappointing thing for this reviewer is the interior, which feels noticeably cheaper than other luxury cars in this class.
Review: First Drive: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Zach Bowman, Sept. 8, 2010
4. Road & Track
This reviewer says that Ford's hybrid powertrain in the MKZ Hybrid is his "favorite hybrid drivetrain/user-interface experience to date." He says he likes the MKZ Hybrid's ability to drive solely on electric power at speeds up to 47 mph and the dashboard's unusual hybrid user interface that displays real time information.
Review: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – Driving Impressions, Jonathan Elfalan, Sept. 8, 2010
5. Motor Trend
Expecting a straight rebadged Ford Fusion Hybrid, this reviewer was impressed by the differences between the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and its mechanically similar counterpart. The reviewer attributes these differences, mostly steering and suspension related, to different software tuning that make the MKZ Hybrid "a very different car."
Review: First Drive: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Kim Reynolds, Sept. 7, 2010
Like other test drives, this one from Popular Mechanics finds that the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid goes well. The reviewer likes the ample acceleration, firm brake pedal and overall engaging driving dynamics. The Ford Fusion Hybrid is mentioned as a more economical choice because of its nearly identical underpinnings and lower price.
Review: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Test Drive, James Tate, Sept. 13, 2010
ConsumerReports.org hasn't tested the MKZ Hybrid specifically, but it has tested the gasoline powered MKZ. Many of the driving impressions, other than the powertrain ones, should be relevant. ConsumerReports.org ranks the Lincoln MKZ against other sedans.
Review: Sedans, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
This About.com review finds a lot to like about the MKZ Hybrid, particularly the smooth and quiet ride, roomy passenger compartment and excellent fuel economy, among other things. This reviewer isn't a fan of the "frumpy" exterior styling and the fact that the hybrid drivetrain encroaches on trunk capacity. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Test Drive, Aaron Gold
9. Los Angeles Times
Like other reviewers, Los Angeles Times reviewer Susan Carpenter says she is impressed that the hybrid version of the MKZ costs the same as the regular gasoline engine version. She finds that the ride "strikes a nice balance between a cloud-like disconnect from the road and sporty stiffness with too much feedback."
Review: Lincoln Stays True to Form with MKZ Hybrid, Susan Carpenter, Nov. 4, 2010
As the title implies, the piece from The Boston Globe concludes that while the MKZ Hybrid is very good, so is the much cheaper and nearly identical Ford Fusion Hybrid. Unlike other test drives, this one leaves the reviewer with the feeling that the MKZ Hybrid is "sluggish" and should have more power for an entry-level luxury hybrid.
Review: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid: Buy the Ford, Keith Griffin, March 28, 2011
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid gets good fuel economy with a combined 39 mpg rating. While a few entry-level luxury hybrids do slightly better in the combined ratings, the Lincoln is significantly larger.
Review: 2011 Hybrid Vehicles, Editors of FuelEconomy.gov
12. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid gets an overall 4 star out of 5 rating for crash worthiness, as does the Ford Fusion Hybrid on which it is based. Side crash protection and rollover resistance are both given a 4 star out of 5 rating, while frontal crash protection gets a 3 star out of 5 rating.
Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, Editors of SaferCar.gov
13. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Like the Ford Fusion Hybrid on which it's based, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid gets the Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This means it gets the highest possible rating for frontal offset, side, rear and roof strength tests.
Review: Midsize Luxury/Near Luxury Cars, Editors of IIHS.org