Test Drive: 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid car test drives luxury cars lincoln hybrids
2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Click image to enlarge
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Lincoln Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

If ever not making an impression was a good impression, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has the technique down. Following the legacy of the company that gave us the ubiquitous Town Car and large sedans to transport the geriatric masses in Florida, I was impressed with the soothing, relaxing and almost numbing automotive experience that is the MKZ Hybrid. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing. Amidst the whirlwind weekend of a trip to the country with my wife and our two-year-old daughter to visit my mother, then back into town for a party with the in-laws, the MKZ Hybrid was a sea of calm, an automotive equivalent of a lullaby for frayed nerves and stressed schedules.

The MKZ Hybrid is the Lincoln-ized Ford Fusion Hybrid, and by Lincoln-ized I mean it has the trademark Lincoln grille, and logo. And that’s about it. Okay, perhaps I’m selling Lincoln short on its interior treatments, but I really don’t feel this leather was any better than that in a Ford F-150. After writing the sentence above I felt bad, so I decided to go to the Lincoln and Ford sites in order to find out what kind of exclusive features the Lincoln offers over its Ford equivalent. Here they are: voice-activated air conditioning, remote moonroof controls, ventilated front seats (in addition to heated seats), genuine wood trim, HID headlights and memory seats (okay, this last one might sell me – I love memory seats). Beyond the basic features, Lincoln owners receive an additional 12 months and 20,000 km of basic warranty, an extra 12 months and 10,000 km of powertrain warranty, plus a 24 months/32,000 km maintenance warranty, which I take to mean free oil changes. Everything else you can get on a loaded Fusion Hybrid.

Test Drive: 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid car test drives luxury cars lincoln hybrids
Test Drive: 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid car test drives luxury cars lincoln hybrids
Test Drive: 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid car test drives luxury cars lincoln hybrids
2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

I doubt there will be many Lincoln loyalists out there defending the MKZs honour, but there’s really no need. The end result is a fine car, whether it wears a Ford or Lincoln grille (though a decidedly better value at the Fusion price point). The seats are wide and cushy, yet supportive enough to alleviate fatigue on long drives, the SYNC and touch-screen interface system worked flawlessly and interior materials are acceptable for a near-luxury brand (as Lincoln has become).

Credit where credit is due, though, Lincoln doesn’t make the mistake of trying to overdress its plastics with fake stitching (I’m looking at you, Buick Lacrosse). Instead, the leather seats are trimmed with contrasting piping that complements the genuine wood accents in the cabin. Redundant stereo and climate controls with buttons and knobs mean technophobes can operate any of the basic functions without having to conquer the touch-screen interface.

Then again, if you don’t embrace the screen’s navigation, you’ll miss out on some of the nifty graphics keeping you apprised of the hybrid drivetrain’s operation. Even better than the touch-screen interface was the gauge cluster that displayed speed by a traditional, bright visible wand pointing to large, easy-to-read numbers. The speedometer was flanked by various gauges displaying power, acceleration and fuel consumption readings, some of which can be tailored to display alternate information. One very neat gauge was the EV/Power column that you can use to moderate throttle application to help keep the car in electric mode for as long as possible. With the guidance of these tools to help me drive efficiently, the trip computer reported a final fuel consumption figure of 7.7 L/100 km, and my stints on the highway were often in the low 6s.

Of course, the main reason for the compact car-like fuel consumption was the hybrid system itself. The Ford hybrid system is as good as any and better than most. The MKZ Hybrid combines a 2.5-litre inline-four (constructed of aluminum block and heads), contributing 156 hp and 135 lb-ft of torque, with an electric motor capable of producing 106 hp, and in tandem they provide a maximum of 191 net horsepower. The battery is a 1.5-kWh conventional nickel-metal hydride unit that gets charged by regenerative brakes and by the engine when it gets low.

Test Drive: 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid car test drives luxury cars lincoln hybrids
2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Power is routed to the front wheels through an electronically-governed continuously variable transmission that delivered the best qualities of CVTs: smooth acceleration and an ability to the engine at peak efficiency. Effective sound insulation means the cabin is not flooded with CVT-related engine drone. Wind and road noise are also kept in check. Power delivery from both sources is seamless; the engine often shuts down when cruising and the MKZ can crawl up to 50 km/h and more on battery power alone, although your pedestrian friends from the retirement home will beat you down the block if you drive like that.

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