Hybrid Car Review: 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Now that the hybrid engine has been around awhile, say 15 years, you’d think that its basic technology would be something automotive companies can add today at less of a cost than say, 7 years ago. Now I’m not implying that there’s no incremental cost involved in launching a new power train, or that a new sub-line of cars has no additional cost.
But I do often wonder why, other than the “market”, do hybrids or diesels cost more than their gasoline variants? I’ll give you some additional costs to allow for low demand; but in some cases the premium between gas and green is up to 30%. Why the showroom penalty for saving money later down the line?
Some would say that the premium is there because green cars hold their value. To me that’s kind of a red herring. I think a big reason green cars have higher resale is because an owner will hang on to the vehicle longer, in an attempt to offset the overpayment with as much fuel savings as possible. It’s a human response that artificially dampens the resale market.
Which is why my interest was piqued awhile back when the Lincoln Motor Company announced that they would sell their MKZ Hybrid model at the same price as the gasoline version. Whether or not it was a ploy to get people to look at an ailing Ford sub-brand, it did speak to this issue of price differential.
According to the DailyTech.com, offering a hybrid for the same price as a gasoline powetrain has been working. In a story that appeared on their website last September, they wrote:
Executives at Ford and Lincoln have announced that Lincoln will double the production of its MKZ Hybrid sedan for the 2014 model year. According to the executives, about 40% of the overall Lincoln MKZ production will be allotted to building the hybrid version of the car, which is double the 20% rate for the 2013 model year.
A Lincoln spokesperson said the 2014 model year MKZ Hybrid is set to go on sale later this year. The significant increase in production for the hybrid model of the car comes as demand for hybrid vehicles continues to increase. It also helps that the $35,000 base price for the MKZ Hybrid is the same as an MKZ with a conventional powertrain.
Apparently people did what the marketing told them to do and bought an MKZ.
CNET.com did a great review on the 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, as I’m sure you’ve seen in the video above. We’ll look at a little more from the article. First, as always performance:
Lincoln rates the total system output of gasoline engine and electric motor at 188 horsepower, short of the 200 horsepower made by the Toyota Camry Hybrid. When I pinned the accelerator to the floor, the MKZ Hybrid paused a moment to think, then took off with moderate thrust. Although it didn’t give me a sense of commanding the road, I could pull off a passing maneuver with adequate preparation.
I was more impressed as, driving down the freeway, I noticed the MKZ Hybrid running on electric power only at 65 mph. It kept the engine off when the road remained flat and it had enough juice stored, but tipping in the accelerator a bit to battle a rise or headwind meant some actual fuel sipping.
Lincoln’s EPA testing of the MKZ Hybrid returned a 38 mpg rating for both city and highway. Taking an economical approach behind the wheel, I got a smidgen over 40 mpg as my average, exceedingly good for a mid-size sedan. With more lead-footed driving in the city, I saw the trip computer average drop toward 36 mpg.
So the MKZ offers pretty much the usual hybrid car performance experience. A little bland with the right pedal, spectacular with the mileage. Now, let’s hear more about their take on ride:
Ride quality was good, but not up to the levels I’ve felt in cars from Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. The suspension competently kept the MKZ Hybrid from bouncing all over the road, but I could feel the rough spots from the driver seat. As a step up from the Fusion Hybrid, Lincoln gives the MKZ Hybrid an adaptive suspension with settings for Normal, Eco, and Sport. The latter setting is completely unnecessary as the car’s drivetrain does not support enthusiastic driving.
In Ford vehicles, I’ve noted excellent tuning on the electric power0-steering systems, and that engineering expertise translated to the MKZ Hybrid. The wheel always retained a bit of heft, but I could turn it with one hand while stopped. On the freeway, I found a slight bit of play which kept the car from feeling twitchy.
Lincoln and Cadillac have always been the poor man’s Mercedes, so this is no surprise. Not to take anything away from the Lincoln. It’s a well-made vehicle. But it is not a German luxury car.
Pushing the Start button initiated the typical silent start of a hybrid. The instrument cluster, an analog speedometer surrounded by two LCDs, lit up. The MyFord Touch interface on this navigation-equipped model booted up on the center screen, but the engine remained off.
The instrument cluster, identical to that of the Fusion Hybrid, let me call up a variety of information about the MKZ Hybrid’s energy performance on the left screen, while the right let me view audio, navigation, and phone information. Four-way switches on the steering wheel let me easily choose what I wanted to see while keeping my eyes forward.
As in the video, the written review talks a little more about the pluses and minuses of the My Ford Touch, and how much better the touch actuation is over the 2013 MKZ. But one thing they didn’t talk about in the video was how much on an impression the sound system made on them. In fact the title of the review is “THX Makes Lincoln MKZ a Music Lovers Car”.
When I saw the THX badge in the 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, I knew I was in for an audio treat. That thought was confirmed as the sweet notes of an acoustic guitar joined the scratchy fuzz of an electric guitar on Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here,” came pouring from the 14 speakers of the 700-watt audio system.
The clarity and depth from this THX system was superb, and its ability to bring out layers in music made me want to play all my favorite tracks in the MKZ Hybrid.
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