Lincoln and Lexus Compete for Premium Hybrid Car Leadership

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid’s Elegant Drive

This Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is delivering the most smooth and silent drive I’ve experienced. In stop-go LA traffic, I quietly move forward only using the two electric motors, with the gasoline engine off. When I accelerate around slow traffic the electric motors and gasoline engine blend power so smoothly that it would happen unnoticed unless you are doing a test drive.

The Lincoln MKZ is the premium hybrid car with the best fuel economy on the road. No other luxury or premium car gets the Lincoln MKZ’s 41 highway, 36 city, and 39 mpg combined fuel efficiency. The sticker price on this beautiful midsized four-door, five-seat, sedan is $34,333. How much more does this MKZ hybrid cost over the standard MKZ? Not a dime. Since the MKZ will save most drivers at least $1,000 per year over the non-hybrid, it practically makes this Lincoln a bargain.

As I sit behind in the Quietcraft Interior, admiring the Walnut Swirl steering wheel and dashboard, and adjust the fine leather seat to give me just the right support, I ask why Ford did not give this Lincoln a premium price. The answer is that Ford wants to sell more hybrids than Toyota. By 2020, Ford plans to have 10 to 25 percent of all its sales be hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric. If lithium battery prices keep dropping and oil prices keep rising with every drill and every oil spill, Ford will reach the 25 percent goal.

Ford Motor (NYSE:F) with this Lincoln MKZ hybrid is taking on Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM) with its five Lexus hybrid models. So far, Ford is beating Toyota at its own game. Powered by the proven Ford Fusion hybrid drive system, the Lincoln MKZ delivers 39 mpg combined beating the 35 mpg of its competitor the Lexus HS250h hybrid. The MZK has 8.8 more cubic feet of passenger room than the Lexus HS250h and still delivers better mileage. In Spring 2011, however, Lexus is again expected to take the lead at 42 mpg combined with the new CT200h compact hatchback.  The Lexus CT200h allows drivers to select from four modes – Normal, EV, ECO, and Sport. The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid keeps it simple. No selecting modes. Touch Start and drive.

As the Lincoln versus Lexus hybrid battle continues to unfold, Lincoln will emphasize their quiet, roomy, and luxurious ride. Lexus will focus on performance and a range of hybrid choices from hatchbacks to sedans to SUVs.

The Lincoln hybrid system makes all the decisions about when to be in electric-only mode and when to engage the gasolineLincoln MKZ Hybrid 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Test Drive and Reviewengine. When stopped or accelerating carefully in the MKZ, I stay in stealth mode propelled with quiet electric motors. If I accelerate with care, I could reach 47 mph before the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is engaged. When I step on it, the gasoline engine and 40-horse electric motors work together taking me rapidly to the speed limit. Everything happens automatically – the MKZ’s computerized drive system decides when to engage motor, engine, or both.

The MKZ Hybrid includes an array of electronics for safer driving, navigation, and entertainment. The SmartGauge instrument cluster includes a keyless entry pad, display of growing leaves as you learn to drive without wasting fuel. Seat positions contoured to your comfort are remembered. The standard sound system is great and uses Synch to allow you to use your Droid, iPod, or other music system.

Although the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid costs no more than the standard MKZ, the standard includes 16 cubic feet of trunk space, while the hybrid only includes 11.8 cubic feet.

With the hybrid you sacrifice not having a 60/40 split rear seat that lowers. This matters to people that regularly need the option of added cargo space for sporting goods, home projects, and extra luggage. The standard Lincoln MKZ only delivers 21 mpg; the hybrid 39 mpg.

If you sometimes drive on snowy or icy roads, both the MKZ is available with optional AWD; the MKZ hybrid is not available with AWD. The Lincoln MKZ AWD delivers 19 mpg combined; the Lincoln MKS AWD delivers 20 mpg benefitting from a turbocharged 3.5L engine. Speaking of cold, the front seats of these Lincolns can be heated or cooled to individual comfort year round.

If you love the drive of this hybrid car, but can’t quite afford the $34,333, then you can save $7,000 and enjoy the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Of course, it won’t hurt to test drive the alternatives from Lexus and others. For premium features, a luxurious drive, and a non-premium price, the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is hard to beat.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Specifications