Affordable Luxury In A Quiet Ride—Thank You, Smart Tech
Every time it snows I feel grateful for our all wheel drive SUV. In our house we juggle schedules when bad weather is forecasted so that our sedan isn’t needed. We just assume, being a sedan, that it isn’t fit for the snow.
Never mind that until 20 years ago sedans were all anyone drove in the snow.
So recently when we had the opportunity to test drive the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid we were a little worried when snow was predicted. What would we possibly do?
Never mind that this is review about a luxury hybrid, not about car built for the snow.
So, we faced the snow, driving carefully and appreciating ways to conquer inclement weather in a sedan. You know, how everyone else who doesn’t have an SUV drives when it snows.
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid handled the weather masterfully. Built by people who face a lot of bad weather every year, they equipped it with things like heated seats and a remote starter. Never get into a cold (or in the summer, hot) car again. In fact, even though I didn’t leave the heat on or the heated seats on (I think…) the cabin and seats were warm (and our windows quickly defrosted) after remote starting the car. Big yay.
Adaptive Driving Systems: How Lincoln Looks Out For You
But the Lincoln also comes with adaptive drive systems (suspension, traction, cruise) that helps the car to adjust to road conditions. Then, there’s a button you can push when faced with a hill or rough road that gives you even more traction. The result was that we never slid, fishtailed or found the road challenging, despite several days of snow.
Another thing the MKZ Hybrid did nicely in the snow was shed its white blanket: no longer are cars (in general) built from heavy cold-retaining steel; instead they are crafted from lighter-weight composite materials, and the Lincoln was easy to brush off, scrape off and shed the snow from, even when the snow became icy.
The lightweight materials aren’t just better for dusting off the snow, they contribute to the car’s fuel efficiency, too. In hybrids—as with many cars these days—the lighter the car, the less fuel it will need. And while shaving pounds from a car will increase efficiency, it can also make it more difficult to handle, so that you feel as if you’re going to slide off the road if you round a corner too fast. Double that in the snow. So it’s a great accomplishment that the Lincoln’s adaptive driving systems help the car to safely get you through bad weather.
Luxury+ Efficiency = Ahhhhhhh
But all that great technology aside, that’s not really why you might consider driving this car. It’s that irresistible combination of fuel economy and luxury that makes you go “ahhhhhh.” Because until recently, you had to give up one to get the other. No longer.
The MKZ Hybrid passes the first test of luxury: Silence. The ultimate measure of a luxury sedan is its serenity, how its quietness distances you from the loudness of the road. For a luxury car, a hybrid motor is a natural.
And, it should cost you less to drive. Lincoln MKZ Hybrid boasts an EPA rating of 45 MPG—disclaimer here, we didn’t do all that well, and certainly the cold and snow had something to do with it; cold weather is known to reduce hybrid efficiency. We averaged about 34 MPG the week we drove the car, not far off from the 36 MPG we got in a week in the Camry Hybrid. Ford, which owns and builds Lincoln, is invested in its driver feedback systems, so an attentive driver can certainly learn to eek out better fuel mileage than we did.
Luxury in Technology
And then, it’s that good old American sense of luxury that Lincoln is known for: leather wrapped everything, heated seats (with the option of heated rear seats), an “intelligent access” key fob that unlocks the car for you when you’re nearby, pushbutton start, remote start, adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise (possibly my favorite feature), a large retractable sun roof, and Ford’s technology interface (called MyLincoln Touch) that includes phone connectivity, apps, navigation, radio, satellite radio and more.
Lincoln’s design team has sought to not only pack the car with luxuries for the money, but also, to give a sense of space: there are niches carved out where you can put things such as your phone and key fob (though not enough room for a handbag, which was relegated to the back seat or when I was unaccompanied, sat on the front seat); there’re are two sweet little spots under the center console where you can leave things like hand sanitizer or a package of tissues. This space is made possible with Lincoln’s novel push button gear selector: Rather than a center gear selector that sits between the front seats, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has a push button gear selector on the dashboard. It took some getting used to, but I loved not having a gear shift blocking my right elbow (and my dog Eli liked this feature, too; it created a very nice spot for him to lounge when the car was parked).
Touch Sensors Throughout The Car
Lincoln’s rethinking of the interior space extends to its touch system to control climate and sound: a glass panel with icons for high and low prompts you to swipe your finger across it to turn up or down the radio’s volume or to increase or lower fan speed (these same operations can also be accomplished with buttons on the steering wheel, and information on systems are displayed on the dash, right in the driver’s line of sight). While we liked the touch feature (once we got used to it), it’s one that Lincoln is rethinking and may replace with standard buttons and knobs. I have mixed feelings about this; I like the streamlined look and feel, but I’m also sure Lincoln’s designers will come up with something just as smart and probably more intuitive.
The ‘touch‘ system also extends to the the passenger lighting in the rear. Two pinpoint lights on the ceiling prompt passengers to touch them to turn on the interior lights. This is one feature I hope they don’t get rid of; it’s smart and my kids were easily able to find the lights without searching in the dark and getting chocolate on the ceiling.
Room For A Stroller (or Golf Clubs)
The MKZ Hybrid’s designers added one other key thing to the car: A bigger trunk than many hybrids. And it’s an important thing to consider, because the battery can take up sizable space, and often that space comes out of the trunk. The MKZ Hybrid compromises here: trunk space is good, but not huge; enough for a stroller (or a set of golf clubs), a few pieces of luggage and a few grocery bags. For a four passenger car (well, five, really) it’s enough space for a week’s vacation as long as everyone packs lightly.
Another place the hybrid battery can have an impact is in the back seat. In this case we found back seat legroom average, which for tall passengers can feel cramped, but typical for a mid-sized sedan. The MKZ Hybrid features 37 inches of rear legroom, slightly smaller than the Impala’s nearly 40-inch space, but about the same as the Camry Hybrid’s back seat.
Less Expensive Hybrid—And A Good Lease Deal
Just because you’re saving money on gas, should you pay more for the motor? No, says Lincoln. The MKZ Hybrid is priced the same as the regular gas engine, with no upcharge for the hybrid motor, and the current lease deal has it priced at $359 a month. So you get better fuel economy, regenerative breaking (which recaptures energy from breaking and stores it in the battery) and ultra-low emissions for the same price as a standard gas engine. Another big yay.
Next time we drive the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid I hope that it’ll be in good weather so we can truly put its hybrid system to the test, and also, so we can enjoy the panoramic sunroof, which remained snowed under during our test drive.
What We Loved
Hybrid engine: quiet, low emissions, good gas mileage
Tons of luxuries
Push button gear shift (and all the interior space it creates)
Intelligent Access key
4 years/50,000 mile maintenance
Rear view camera
Blind spot monitors
Current lease deal offers the car for $359 a month
What You Need to Know
Kids didn’t like the rear inflatable seat belts
Rear leg room could feel cramped for tall passengers
Front wheel drive
Most comfortable for four passengers
Technology package (park assist, adaptive cruise, lane keeping) is an option
Panoramic sun roof is an option
4 years/50,000 mile warranty
6 years/70,000 mile power train warranty
Base Price: $35,925
Price of the model we tested: $42,415
Disclosure: Lincoln provided the MKZ Hybrid for our test drive; opinions expressed here are all our own.