2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid: Quick Drive

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2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid on test in upstate New York, July 2011

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid on test in upstate New York, July 2011

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Ford has been building hybrid-electric vehicles for seven years now, and the company has constantly refined and improved its hybrid system over that time.

But it was only this year that Lincoln acquired its own hybrid sedan, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. That vehicle effectively replaced the Milan Hybrid from the Mercury brand, which Ford killed off last year.

We recently spent a weekend with a 2011 MKZ Hybrid, which we liked more than we expected despite a few dated aspects to the design.

The MKZ was born in 2006 as the Zephyr, and renamed the following year. After a refresh for 2010, it's the last Lincoln that's essentially a rebadged Ford--in this case, the Fusion mid-size sedan--and its replacement for 2013 will have far more distinctive styling.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

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We liked the simple, slab-sided looks, but the square-cut, upright interior felt definitely retro after a string of Space Age-cockpit dashboards and consoles in other Ford products. It wasn't bad, it was just ... very traditional.

The most visible indicator of this was the old-fashioned ignition key. Most other vehicles in this class offer proximity keys and start buttons, and they're rapidly moving down into even compact cars like the Ford Focus. So having to put a piece of notched metal into a slot to start the car felt very ... old-school.

Which may be just what Lincoln's customers want; who are we to judge?

Like the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid with which it shares a powertrain, the MKZ Hybrid returns impressive gas mileage for a heavy mid-size four-door sedan. On a trip of almost 250 miles, perhaps two-thirds of it highway cruising, we averaged a remarkable 40.5 miles per gallon.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

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That's slightly better than the MKZ Hybrid's EPA ratings of 41 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, and combined fuel economy of 39 mpg. As always, we used cruise control where possible on the highway, but otherwise made few special efforts to hypermile.

On the road, our hybrid Lincoln was comfortable and well-insulated, with sufficient sound damping that the only indication of the engine shutting off and switching on was an occasional quiet whirring noise up front.

We're big fans of Ford graphics, and Lincoln's are a touch more elegant than the comparable screens on the Fusion Hybrid. Overall, Lincoln has some of the best graphic displays in any hybrid, and they're particularly easy to customize, allowing the driver to hide or show various information screens as desired.

We liked the interior materials, the wood-rimmed steering wheels, and the color palette. After soaring and swooping black-plastic dashes--on everything from economy cars to high-end hybrids--Lincoln's living room-like interior was soothing and felt more luxurious than we expected.

The interior also offered lots of storage space, including a spacious bin in the center armrest and the usual array of cupholders, door pockets, and so forth.

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Comments (2)
  1. Great car, but I have one nit to pick. Why does the dashboard show 57.1mpg? Someone call the EPA. The law mandates that only EPA approved numbers be used in advertising.

  2. In Re.: "That audio system was quite good indeed with both MP3 tracks from personal audio players and conventional radio. It wasn't nearly as good with satellite radio, sounding tinny and hollow at times in a way we've never experienced in any other car."
    I own a 2010 Milan. And while fooling/playing around with either radio settings or modes, my radio all of a sudden sounded very much like what you reported. Once I changed it back, all was well.
    Is it at all possible that some how settings were changed on your tester?

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