In a time when proverbial gas pains are becoming ever more acute, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid continues to exceed expectations -- both for its customers and for execs at the premier division of Ford Motor Company. When the hybrid version of the MKZ launched last fall, it was projected to claim about 15 percent of the total line mix. During the first quarter of 2011, this mid-size gas/electric luxury sedan has seen that stat rise beyond 20 percent -- and Lincoln anticipates the MKZ Hybrid's "plus trending" will continue in the months ahead.
Breaking with established tradition, Lincoln decided to eliminate the normal hybrid premium tariff and introduced the 2011 MKZ Hybrid at $35,180 -- exactly the same price as its conventional cousin. Where the standard MKZ packs a 263 horsepower/3.5-liter V6 the MKZ Hybrid has a 156-horsepower/2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle inline-four cylinder paired with a 106-horse electric motor energized by nickel-metal hydride battery. That's the same motivation match found in the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Backed by a Ford's electronically-controlled continuously variable automatic transmission (eCVT), the front-drive-only MKZ Hybrid earns stellar EPA marks of 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway compared to the 18/27 mpg stats of its V6-powered front-drive counterpart (and 17/24 mpg numbers of the AWD gas car). Although it does sacrifice a measure of absolute quickness compared to the gasoline V6, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is more than capable of dealing with any driving situation -- and clearly excels when it comes to regularly passing by gas pumps.
In commenting on the car's increasing acceptance among a buyer group not generally known for falling into the "early adopter" category, Lincoln group marketing manager C.J. O'Donnell noted: "The MKZ Hybrid is just the start of the journey we are taking in redefining the Lincoln brand and its new model range for the future. Lincoln uniquely blends the style today's luxury vehicle customers demand with impressive, clean, economical performance as well as a wide range of intuitive technologies and features."