In a move that sets a new precedent in the auto industry, Lincoln has announced that its new 2011 MKZ Hybrid will carry the same $35,180 base price as the gasoline-powered version of this mid-size luxury sedan. Both vehicles are set to arrive at Lincoln dealer showrooms in the fall. That figure is several hundred dollars below the current starting sticker on the Lexus HS 250h, which division marketing types see as the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid's most direct competitor. In addition to holding a pricing edge, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid's 41 mpg projected EPA city rating also gives it a six-mpg advantage over the Lexus in that area, and helps ensure its status as the most fuel-efficient 2011 mid-size luxury four-door sold in the U.S.

Underhood, Lincoln's first-ever hybrid model replaces the standard MKZ's 3.5-liter/263-horsepower V6 with the second-generation of FoMoCo's well-proven hybrid package. This gas-electric combo teams a 2.5-liter/156-horse inline-four that employs efficiency-enhancing Atkinson-cycle technology with a 40-horsepower motor/generator fed by a nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack. Together, they ship a collective 191 horses to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). In addition to earning stellar mileage marks from the EPA -- its also rated at 36 mpg on the highway -- the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid will be able to travel up to 47 mph on electric power alone for short periods of time.

Like the standard MKZ, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid boasts a long list of premium standards including wood and leather trim, Lincoln SYNC, heated/cooled power front seats, an acoustic laminated windshield and the Personal Safety System as well a its own unique version of Ford's SmartGauge with EcoGuide to help encourage and facilitate more efficient driving habits.

"Customers are very enthusiastic about the MKZ Hybrid and we think they will be even more excited to learn they sacrifice nothing to be able to go green in style," said John Felice, general manager, Ford and Lincoln Marketing. "We're launching a world-class hybrid that beats all competitors, and at an introductory price that is sure to draw the interest of new customers to Lincoln."

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