2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Sedan

What’s New for 2011

The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is an all-new entry-level luxury hybrid sedan.

Introduction

If you want a hybrid sedan and you’re shopping in the entry-level luxury segment, the bad news is that with only two models available, you don’t exactly have a wealth of choices. The good news is that one of these choices is a real standout. Launched this year, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is the one to beat in its segment thanks to its winning blend of luxury and practicality.

Like its humbler relative, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the MKZ Hybrid owes its green cred to the combination of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor drive powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output is 191 horsepower, which is good for a relatively speedy 0-60-mph time of about 8.7 seconds. As with other full hybrids, the MKZ Hybrid has regenerative braking and an engine auto-stop feature and can travel for short periods at speed in all-electric drive.

Thanks to this technology, the MKZ Hybrid delivers class-leading fuel efficiency. With EPA-estimated fuel economy of 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 39 mpg combined, it’s more frugal than the Lexus HS 250h, which manages a less stellar 35 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined. Another selling point is the MKZ Hybrid’s value-oriented price. Unlike some other manufacturers, Lincoln doesn’t charge a premium for its hybrid technology. The MKZ Hybrid costs the same as the gas-powered MKZ (though it’s important to note that the gas-powered model comes standard with a more powerful V6 engine) and is a couple grand less expensive than the competing Lexus. Additionally, relative to the HS 250h, the MKZ Hybrid offers more engaging handling and a roomier, more luxurious-looking cabin.

Quite frankly, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is largely appealing because of its fuel economy and its inherent lack of competition. However, it should be noted that the Ford Fusion Hybrid is essentially the same car — albeit without a Lincoln badge and a few more fancy features. As with the non-hybrid MKZ, the higher price doesn’t really seem worth it — even if it is cheaper than a Lexus. If a luxury brand is a must, though, the MKZ Hybrid is indeed a titan in its admittedly small segment.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is a five-passenger hybrid sedan. The Base trim is the only one offered, but shoppers will find it to be quite well-appointed. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated side mirrors (auto-dimming on the driver side), rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power front seats with memory functions, the Sync multimedia integration system and a nine-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.

The lustily named Rapid Spec 201A package adds a 14-speaker surround-sound audio system, a blind-spot warning system, a rearview camera and a voice-activated hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage and Sirius Travel Link (includes real-time traffic and weather information). The Rapid Spec 202A package includes all the amenities in the 201A package and adds a sunroof, adaptive headlights, rain-sensing wipers and chrome-clad wheels.

Powertrains and Performance

Lincoln’s MKZ Hybrid is motivated by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 156 hp and 136 pound-feet of torque, along with an electric motor that helps increase total power output to 191 hp. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). EPA estimates place fuel economy at 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 39 mpg combined.

Safety

Standard safety features on the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, blind-spot mirrors, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and rear parking sensors. Also standard is MyKey, which can be used to limit functions like top speed for teen drivers. The options list includes a blind-spot warning system and rearview camera.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside, the MKZ Hybrid is pleasantly spacious for both front and rear passengers. The front seats, in particular, are plush and nicely contoured. The cabin looks upscale, but the old-school, somewhat blocky aesthetic might be a turn-off for those with a preference for fluid, more modern-looking design cues. Also, the interior materials aren’t much better than what you’ll find in the Fusion Hybrid and certainly not up to Lexus standards.

The Sync system works great, though, integrating audio and Bluetooth functions with voice-recognition technology to provide easy hands-free operation of cell phones and portable MP3 players. The MKZ Hybrid gets its own gauge cluster, dubbed SmartGauge, featuring a pair of color display screens flanking a traditional speedometer. There’s a wealth of information displayed and the graphics are pleasant and modern.

Because of the battery pack, trunk capacity is down to roughly 12 cubic feet of space.

Driving Impressions

Whether cruising down surface streets or getting up to speed on highways, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid feels relatively peppy and energetic. The car offers a more engaging driving experience than most other hybrid sedans; the steering is tighter and more controlled and the action of the brake pedal is more linear thanks to a superior blending of regenerative and conventional brake systems. Ride quality — while firmer than that of past Lincolns — tends to be on the gentle side, favoring comfort over sportiness.

By Edmunds.com