The 2011 Lincoln MKZ mid-size sedan is the luxury brand’s smallest car this year, and it comes in two versions, offered at identical base prices. They are the MKZ Hybrid, with Ford’s hybrid-electric powertrain, and the standard MKZ, which comes standard with a powerful 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine.
The 2011 MKZ is essentially a gussied-up Ford Fusion sedan, but despite sharing roofline and doors, a front end restyle last year underscored its Lincoln identity. Still, the MKZ is pretty invisible on the road, befitting the brand’s marketing approach of understated luxury for buyers who don’t feel the need to make a statement. The MKZ also sports an interior somewhat different from the Fusion’s, with wood trim and buttery leather on offer for traditional luxury buyers.
Sitting solidly in the middle of the mid-size luxury sedan category, the Lincoln stints on room versus larger competitors like the Buick Lacrosse and the Lexus ES model. That’s especially noticeable in the rear seat; front seats are comfortable, spacious, and offer good headroom. But drivers will enjoy the tighter handling and compact dimensions that result. The ride quality is firmer than Lincolns of old, and Ford’s electric power steering has far better feel than does Toyota’s, for instance.
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has far better fuel economy figures than its gasoline competition, and even than the Lexus HS 250h, which may be its closest competition in the tiny niche of mid-size luxury hybrid sedans. It pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with the same Ford hybrid system used in the Fusion sedan and Escape crossover. The one drawback to the MKZ Hybrid is that it doesn’t offer the all-wheel drive system that’s optional on the gasoline MKZ.
The system now permits all-electric running up to 47 mph, under the right conditions, and it comes with elegant and easy-to-understand graphics in the instrument cluster—which is actually a single screen with digital instruments that enlarge or retreat as needed. And in the hushed MKZ interior, you have to focus intently to be at all aware of the engine shutting off and restarting. The best hybrid system is the one you never notice, and the MKZ Hybrid neatly fulfills that requirement, with more sound deadening and refinement than its Fusion Hybrid sibling (which costs about $10K less).
The more powerful V-6 MKZ is rated by the EPA at 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined, when fitted with all-wheel drive (the FWD combined rating is 21 mpg). But opting for the MKZ Hybrid boosts the numbers way, way up. The EPA rates the Lincoln hybrid at 41 city, 36 highway, and an overall 39 mpg—remarkable indeed for a two-ton luxury sedan. On a recent road test, we saw a real-world 40 mpg combined over almost 300 miles.
A few years hence, the next version of the MKZ won’t share any bodywork with any other Ford product. Until then, we think the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid points the way toward luxury cars of the future: a hybrid with high gas mileage, good acceleration when you need it, and the ability to drive it and forget how it’s working under the hood.
Standard features include the usual luxury trappings, and a lengthy options list makes it possible to add almost $10,000 on top of the base price of $34,330 plus a mandatory $850 delivery fee. Notable options include Ford’s SYNC infotainment system, an excellent navigation system, and THX audio.
For more details, see the full review of the 2011 Lincoln MKZ and MKZ Hybrid on our sister site, TheCarConnection.