Hybrids originally came from mass-market brands--Toyota, Honda, then Ford--before they ascended into loftier realms (Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche).

Now Ford is taking its well-received hybrid sedans upscale, by adding a hybrid model to the 2011 Lincoln MKZ lineup. The MKZ, although it shares a production line and some sheetmetal with the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans, never got the hybrid model offered in those two sedans.

At today's media day for the the 2010 New York Auto Show, the company officially launches the 2011 Linoln MKZ Hybrid four-door sedan.

While it carries over much of the well-received hardware and software from the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, the 2011 MKZ Hybrid offers the latest iteration of the SmartGauge with EcoGuide digital display.

Revisions include feedback on a driver's long-term fuel efficiency through small white flower petals on the right-hand display panel, which log ongoing fuel economy over the car's total mileage, and are only reset if the driver requests it.

Lincoln calls it "the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America" with city mileage of at least 41 miles per gallon, though Lexus might question that, given the 35 mpg city, 34 mpg highway ratings for their 2010 Lexus HS 250h hybrid sedan.

The EPA rates the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, on which the Lincoln is based, at 41 mpg city, 36 mpg highway--significantly better than the Lexus, and in a larger vehicle than the Lexus HS to boot.

And the MKZ Hybrid takes direct aim at the HS 250h, mentioning it by name in press releases, touting the MKZ's "room for one more passenger and more standard luxury and segment-exclusive safety features."

Those features include 10-way heated and cooled driver and passenger front seats with memory settings, a reverse-sensing system, and genuine wood trim.

Other Ford features include the EasyFuel capless fuel filler, integrated spotter mirrors to reduce blind spots, and the MyKey system that allows parents to set different vehicle restrictions on driving by their children.

One unique green feature is the use of Bridge of Weir untanned leather, complete with marks on the hides, which is less wasteful of the hide surface. It is also cured in a chromium-free tanning solution, reducing toxic liquids entering the waste stream and making it easier to recyle.

Lincoln notes that the 2011 MKZ Hybrid can run in pure electric mode--under certain circumstances--as high as 47 miles per hour, whereas the HS 250h is limited to an electric top speed of 25 mph.

Like the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the very similar 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid,  the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid uses a specially modified 2.5-liter engine paired to Ford's own hybrid system. Its engine and electric motor together produce 191 horsepower.

The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid goes on sale this fall.