Luxury goes eco conscious in MKZ Hybrid
By HOLLY REICH Motor Matters September 14, 2012 2:41PM
2012 LINCOLN MKZ HYBRID
ENGINE: 156-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder with electric motor
TRANSMISSION: continuously variable automatic
DRIVETRAIN: front-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 41 city/36 highway
BASE PRICE: $34,645
AS TESTED: $39,325
The MKZ Hybrid sedan is Lincoln’s very first hybrid vehicle achieving a marvelous 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. Lincoln calls the MKZ Hybrid “the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America.”
The 2012 MKZ Hybrid is packed with premium appointments that today’s luxury buyer would expect from Lincoln. Inside the cabin, Lincoln’s signature luxury markers hold true. Touches include wings of wood, stitched seats, plastic-lined cup holders, flocked felt in the back-seat storage area and bright, easy-to-use navigation and instrumentation systems. The eco system makes driving a hybrid fun. My husband, who is a nut for lumbar support, was all about the comfortable seats.
Lincoln uses a number of recycled materials in its vehicle that are defined by strict environmental, social and economic standards, including the luxury appointments of the genuine wood appliqués and Bridge of Weir luxury leather, which uses a chromium-free, organic tanning process and is totally recyclable at the end of its life. Post-consumer plastics and recycled resins such as detergent bottles, tires and battery casings are used to create parts like splash shields and radiator air deflector shields.
The 2012 MKZ Hybrid is also packed with clever technology starting with the interactive SmartGauge with EcoGuide. It provides information to help maximize fuel efficiency and coaches the driver on how to optimize hybrid performance. The system gives positive feedback on long-term fuel efficiency and driving performance through the growth of virtual flowers on its screen. The pretty white flowers, inspired by apple blossoms, smoothed out my hectic days.
Available for 2012 is SYNC AppLink, a software application that gives SYNC users hands-free voice control of select smartphone apps. The 5.1 surround sound with a 12-channel amplifier delivers 600 watts to 14 speakers and two subwoofers.
The MKZ Hybrid front-wheel drive starts at $34,645. The MKZ Hybrid with the navigation package is priced at $39,325. The MKZ Hybrid with the ultimate package costs $41,325. Lincoln uses Ford’s hybrid technology — the 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder hybrid engine, named one of Ward’s 10 best engines. The system combines the attributes of the gasoline engine and electric battery-driven motors to deliver optimal performance and fuel economy, providing 191 net horsepower. The pure electric mode on the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid extends to a best-in-class 47 mph.
Lincoln’s description of the 2012 MKZ Hybrid as providing industry-leading fuel economy without sacrificing power registers true to me. The hybrid’s highway pickup is exceptional with a surge of power that is quiet and smooth. Sorry to sound so eco oriented but even the engine sounds clean. On all fronts this hybrid sedan offered up a responsive experience. I found the steering, cornering and parking to be exceptionally receptive.
The MKZ Hybrid comes with Lincoln’s exclusive personal safety system, featuring seven protection technologies. The vehicle also comes standard with AdvanceTrac electronic stability control that is designed to help drivers maintain steering control as well as directional stability in adverse conditions.
The exterior styling has a buff grille going for it, but basically I’m ready for pluckier designs from Lincoln. The automaker showed us a dramatic concept design for the future MKZ lineup that’s a real head-turner and a smart move for the brand.
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