The MKZ Hybrid is charming, but also has a few flaws
As long as grass remains green—or at least until electrified vehicles become the norm—drivers will face the wearisome task of deciding whether a hybrid is worth the money. It’s a conundrum that typically involves weighing the higher MSRP of a hybrid with its fuel economy benefits. In the case of the Lincoln MKZ, the starting price is the same whether you opt for the four-cylinder gas-only model or the hybrid, but the latter provides an EPA-estimated 40 mpg (5.9 L/100km) instead of just 24 mpg (9.8 L/100km). Perhaps that’s why the hybrid makes up about 30 percent of all MKZ sales.
In our own Real MPG tests, the mileage we achieved in the MKZ Hybrid matched the EPA ratings almost perfectly: 41.8/38.2/40.1 mpg (5.6/6.2/5.9 L/100km) city/highway/combined. I enjoyed not having to fill up nearly as often as I expected during my time with the car, which is EPA-rated to travel 560 miles (901 km) on a single tank of gas. Of course, this prudence comes at the cost of power. With a 2.0-liter inline-four engine, an electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery, the fuel-sipping midsizer produces a total output of 188 hp. This same powertrain can be found in the Ford Fusion Hybrid.
The MKZ Hybrid doesn’t feel underpowered on the road, but we ran it through a battery of tests to compare its performance against other models. In our evaluations, the MKZ Hybrid hit 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. That’s quite a bit slower than the gas-only MKZ 2.0T AWD, whose 245 hp propelled it to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. Perhaps of greater consequence, the MKZ Hybrid’s main competitor, the Lexus ES 300h, can make the run in just 7.5 seconds.
Having piloted the Lexus and the Lincoln, I found the handling and drive experience somewhat wanting in both models. The MKZ’s ride is surprisingly stiff but not in a lovable way like your favorite sports car. It also suffers from imprecise steering, which requires a bit of extra turning to achieve the desired effect. As a hybrid car should, the MKZ offers an Eco mode, but activating the feature slows down the throttle response remarkably. The MKZ Hybrid provides decent sound insulation from the outside world, but persistent creaking noises dull that benefit. Not only did the passenger seat in our tester creak, but we could also hear creaking rearward in the vehicle.
If Lincoln is known for one thing, other than its well-produced Matthew McConaughey commercials, it’s the way it treats its customers. As a standard service for all of its 2017 model-year nameplates, Lincoln will pick up your vehicle at a location of your choice, take it to the dealership, give you a loaner car, and return your vehicle to your doorstep newly washed. And under the optional Black Label program, a Lincoln liaison will bring you swatches of materials to select for your new vehicle. So it’s not surprising that the MKZ Hybrid includes a few touches that make customers feel valued and special.
“For just the right person, it’s captivating,” senior production editor Zach Gale said. “Approach the MKZ with the key in your pocket, and the daytime running lights gradually illuminate from the center of the car toward the corners, swelling with light after they initially turn on. Then there’s the light projection in front of the doors with the Lincoln badge, and folks like me who love such theatrics will be intrigued.” Inside, our tester came with a unique Jade Gray color scheme.
One of my favorite features, which you’ll also find on Ford hybrids, is the efficiency-leaves display. It’s a polite and clever way to nudge customers into driving more efficiently. Virtual leaves and flowers grow inside the right portion of instrument cluster as a reward for driving economically. At the end of the drive, the screen thanks you for driving a hybrid. On the other side of the instrument cluster, a separate screen will tell you the percent of energy recaptured each time you brake. Overall, the controls on the MKZ are easy to figure out, including those on the car’s new infotainment system. One thing I didn’t like about the interior: the cramped rear seats. At 5-foot-3, I usually have little reason to complain about a lack of legroom, but in this car, it’s undeniable.
Although the MKZ Hybrid has quite a bit of charm, it also has quite a few flaws. If my heart was set on an MKZ, I’d personally go for the hybrid model, given its reliable power, reasonable price, and huge fuel economy and range advantage. But I’d much prefer a Fusion Hybrid, which delivers better handling and even higher EPA fuel economy numbers than the MKZ Hybrid. Plus, it has a pretty sweet interior that rivals the Lincoln.
|2017 Lincoln MKZ 2.0H (Reserve)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$48,520|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/141-hp/129-lb-ft Atkinson cycle DOHC 16-valve I-4; plus 118-hp/177-lb-ft elec motor; combined 188 hp/200 lb-ft|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont variable auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,945 lb (57/43%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||194.1 x 73.4 x 58.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||8.7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.6 sec @ 85.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||117 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.86 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.0 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||41.8/38.2/40.1 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||41/38/40 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||82/89 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.49 lb/mile|
The 2017 Lincoln MKZ hybrid and gas models are available in a line-topping Black Label trim that offers exclusive interior color schemes, special 19-inch wheels, upgraded interior materials, free car washes, and annual detailing. Watch b-roll of the MKZ Black Label here: