2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid The Hybrid for Old Guys Forbes

15 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid The Hybrid for Old Guys Forbes отключены
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (2nd gen)

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid — The Hybrid for Old Guys

Even old guys want to drive hybrids. I just spent a week driving the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, and I’m hoping that my craving for the early bird special goes away soon.


The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid carries a list price of $35,180, along with a 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty and an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on unique hybrid components. The MKZ Hybrid is covered by the complimentary Ford Roadside Assistance Program for 6 years/70,000 miles. The EPA estimates that the MKZ Hybrid will achieve 41 mpg in the city, and 36 mpg on the highway. That all sounds pretty good.

I’m pretty sure most MKZ Hybrid buyers will still be driving when their vehicle warranties expire, but that may be wishful thinking.

MKZ shares a platform with the Ford Fusion. The two vehicles share their architecture, wheelbase and mechanical components, but they don’t share much sheetmetal. MKZ gets the Lincoln nose, a classy split grill with two big nostril openings separated by a solid columella that bears the Lincoln emblem. The design’s execution gets a little tortured at the intersection of the windshield, door, hood and front fender, but other than that, MKZ is fairly sleek and elegant.

A bustle-style trunk lid reminds me of the Chris Bangle-designed BMW 5-series that was so controversial in the mid-2000s, but looks almost quaint and sedate now. MKZ is the smallest and least expensive Lincoln in the lineup, but it fits nicely into the family with the MKX, MKS and MKT (Town Car and Navigator are vestiges of a bygone age at Lincoln, bearing the styling of the distant past). MKZ, like MKS, radiates maturity and solidity. That’s great for old guys who want to drive a smaller, more efficient vehicle, but don’t want to be seen in anything hip or trendy.

No danger of that in MKZ.

The maturity and solemnity extend into MKZ’s interior. Broad, well-cushioned leather bucket seats greet generously-proportioned drivers. In a nod to modern luxury, both front seats are heated and ventilated.

The beefy, leather-wrapped steering wheel houses a half-dozen controls for audio, telematics and information access. MKZ’s dash wears some nice-looking real wood trim, and houses some sophisticated hardware and software. Lincoln SYNC, Microsoft’s voice-activated communications and entertainment system is one of my favorite vehicle interfaces, and it’s standard in MKZ.

MKZ’s driving position is what really makes it feel like an old guy’s car. Once I got the manual tilt/telescope steering wheel into the right position and adjusted the power driver’s seat, the flat dashboard was arrayed far away in front of me. I was reminded of the driving position in a Lincoln from the 1970s, and I’ll bet many MKZ buyers will be, too.

For them, it will be a comfort. I prefer a more assertive driving position. Second row passengers were reasonably content with their seats, and had few complaints about the ease of access through the back doors.

MKZ’s trunk is a little tight at 11.8 cubic feet, but appears sized to pass the old guy two golf bag test.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid instrument panel. Photo Ford Motor Company

One feature that doesn’t feel like it’s for old guys is MKZ’s instrument panel, which Lincoln brands “SmartGauge with EcoGuide.” (I’m not sure why there’s such a premium on word spacing at Ford and Lincoln — perhaps they’re saving weight.) Two full-color LCD screens flank the central speedometer, providing instant feedback on the hybrid powerplant’s operation, including fuel-efficiency and power levels. The presentation is a little flowery and lighthearted in contrast to the rest of the vehicle, but it is easy to read and conveys information at a glance.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (2nd gen)

Driving a hybrid is just like driving a gas-only vehicle for the most part. MKZ’s gas engine will stop completely when the vehicle is at a standstill, and with gentle throttle application, you can get MKZ to roll in EV mode up to about 20 mph or so. The 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder gas engine and permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor in the MKZ deliver 191 net horsepower, a modest amount of power for a 3,752 lb vehicle. Old guys will have to recalibrate their senses — there’s a big difference between the sound of the V8 in their old Town Cars and the I4 in the MKZ. Instead of a low rumble at acceleration, MKZ’s engine produces a bit of a mechanical racket.

The noise is reasonably well-damped from the cabin, but it’s still audible and will never be considered music to a car guy’s ears. MKZ will never throw you back in your seat with its power, but it won’t be left behind in traffic, either. The ride isn’t floaty and boat-like, as you expect in a big car, but stiffer and a little harsher than its “luxury” label suggests.

Pronounced body roll, combined with that old guy driving position, kept me from pushing too hard through the curves.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid profile. Photo Ford Motor Company

I wish I liked the MKZ Hybrid more, but I just didn’t. I didn’t get the feeling of luxury that I look for, and that Lincoln delivers in the MKT and MKS. MKZ feels decidedly entry-level, which is odd given its old guy ambiance.

If I were looking for a small luxury sedan with a hybrid powerplant, I actually might consider the Ford Fusion Hybrid. I’d load it down with optional features, and use the savings to treat myself to some cigars and a nice club chair. The Lexus HS 250h shares a similar entry-level feeling to the MKZ Hybrid, but outdoes the Lincoln in terms of driving dynamics.

I actually might step up to the mid-size and large luxury sedan class, where the luxury gets a bit thicker. The Lexus GS 450h, BMW ActiveHybrid 750i and Infiniti M35 Hybrid all cost thousands more than the MKZ Hybrid, but they deliver world-class luxury in exchange, along with very respectable fuel economy.

For some old guys, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid might just be just the bridge to get them out of their overstuffed luxury sedans into a new age of more efficient, smarter motoring. It just seems that for most buyers, MKZ is a step down the ladder, not a step up.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (2nd gen)
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (2nd gen)
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (2nd gen)
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (2nd gen)
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (2nd gen)
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (2nd gen)

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