The Dark Side of GreenEnlarge Photo
ODDEST TAGLINE: 2011 Lexus CT 200h
As we noted earlier today, we don't find "the darker side of green" a welcoming--or indeed understandable--way to invite potential buyers to experience a new hybrid.
Especially if you're Lexus, and you're trying to launch a new body style (a five-door hatchback) in a new size (compact) to an audience (Gen X and Gen Y) who haven't historically bought your cars.
For their sake, we hope the tactic works. The car itself is a somewhat blocky hatchback with a vertical tail and an elaborate rear window and roof pillar line. To us, its styling doesn't say "Lexus" in the same fashion as the brand's more elegant four-door sedans.
The 1.8-liter engine is the same one as used in the 2010 Toyota Prius, but we hope the CT 200h is more rewarding to drive than the last new Lexus hybrid, the internally conflicted 2010 Lexus HS 250h. We'll let you know when we get our hands on one.
2011 Lincoln MKZ HybridEnlarge Photo
MOST UNDERWHELMING DEBUT: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Granted that it wasn't an all-new vehicle but a new model, the addition of a hybrid version to the Lincoln MKZ line of midsize luxury sedans still seemed almost invisible amidst other, more dynamic debuts.
Perhaps it's because the MKZ is the least distinctive Lincoln--it's essentially an elaborate trim level layered onto a 2010 Ford Fusion, with only unique front sheetmetal and rear lights to set it apart visually from its less expensive brethren.
Or perhaps it's due to the kudos earned last spring by the 2010 Fusion Hybrid, which trounces the similarly sized 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Since the hybrid hardware is the same as on that car, there was nothing new technically.
Either way, while it's a good thing that Lincoln now has a hybrid offering too, the universal reaction among industry analysts and media seemed to be a yawn, followed by faint words of mild praise.
We're now waiting for Ford's first hybrid with a lithium-ion battery pack, which it will launch in 2012. That one should pose interesting competition to the 2011 Sonata Hybrid (see above). But, hey, if you're a Lincoln buyer, check out the 2011 MKZ Hybrid.
More on the show, from Motor Authority: 2010 New York Auto Show: Best Performance/Luxury in Show
More on the show, from Motor Authority: 2010 New York Auto Show: Worst Performance/Luxury in Show