2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Maybe The Best R-O-I On The Market +VIDEO
2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Maybe the best R-O-I on the market today
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel
Lincoln has been reinventing itself as a brand attuned to the needs of 21st-century luxury customers. A couple years back they restructured as The Lincoln Motor Company with their own dedicated design, development, marketing and sales teams. In this global economy in which we now live Lincoln recently announced their expansion to China.
Last year Lincoln sold just under 82,000 vehicles in the U.S. and sales this year are up twenty-one percent. A strong seller in the Lincoln line-up is the MKZ 4-door mid-size sedan. Sales for the MKZ are up 42% this year.
The MKZ is priced at $36,800 (including destination and delivery) and is available with a choice of three different engines: a 240HP turbocharged 2.0-L four cylinder, an extra-cost 300HP V6, or a hybrid with 188 total system horsepower. The very interesting element here is that the hybrid is offered at the same price as the 2.0-L turbo four. No other brand offers a hybrid without charging you extra.
Lincoln's decision to offer the MKZ Hybrid at the same price as comparable gasoline engine models has been a resounding success. One in every three MKZs sold are the MKZ Hybrid.
The MKZ Hybrid is available in front wheel drive configuration whereas the two gasoline engine models can be had as either front-drive or all-wheel-drive. I don’t see the lack of A-W-D on the hybrid as a big drawback. Good winter tires will handle most snowy situations.
I spent a week and nearly 600 miles behind the wheel of a 2014 MKZ Hybrid equipped with a Preferred Equipment Group, Technology Package, Moonroof, with an out-the-door total MSRP of $46,800. Items included in the Preferred Group that I liked and were very useful in my drive included a rear view camera, a reverse sensing system, and a navigation system. You also get a heated steering wheel and rear seats that I know would be nice come winter. The Technology Package includes active park assist, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping system.
In a long highway road trip the nav stem, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping came in to use very often and really are very beneficial and worth the investment. Also, my long highway drive was spent mostly at speeds in the 70 mph range. The MKZ Hybrid can power the car up to 85mph on the electric motor alone. As a result highway fuel consumption is very good. I got in the range of 37 to 38 mpg over my entire drive.
Very recently, Ford Motor Company announced it is lowering the fuel economy ratings for its 2013- and 2014-model year hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Ford identified an error with fuel economy ratings on certain vehicles through its internal testing and notified EPA. The company worked with EPA as the agency retested the vehicles to determine the correct fuel economy ratings. The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid was re-rated at 38 city mpg/37 highway mpg for a combined rating of 38 mpg. The prior ratings were all 45 mpg for city, highway and combined. To compensate current MKZ drivers, lease customers will receive checks from Ford for $625 and purchasers will get $1,050.
All-in-all the 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is a very comfortable road trip car. Handling is confident, steering is responsive with the right amount of effort and feedback, seats are supportive and comfortable, and the cabin is quiet with minimal noise from tires and wind. There is nothing lacking in acceleration, highway merging or overtaking. The torque from the gasoline/electric hybrid is very plentiful for all driving needs.
The MKZ’s standard, continuously controlled damping (CCD) suspension provides good comfort and also protection against jarring impact from highway potholes and gaps. Lincoln CCD is part of the overall Lincoln Drive Control system that orchestrates the performance of a suite of elements to enhance driving dynamics. CCD has 12 sensors that can read nearly 50 inputs from road conditions in two milliseconds – about half the time it takes to blink an eye.
The MKZ uses an electronic push-button gearshift instead of a lever, leaving room for designers to open up the center console. The MKZ's center console had sliding touch-screen controls instead of tactile knobs or buttons. Looking at some newer designed models from Lincoln I would expect some more knobs and buttons in a future MKZ redesign in response to negative consumer feedback on touch controls.
One item I was missing on the MKZ is a power-fold feature for the outside mirrors. In crowded cities mirrors always should be folded to reduce the risk of a passing large truck taking them along. If a moderately priced compact from other brands can offer power-fold as standard equipment I certainly think Lincoln could too.
Lincoln’s design language is bold and differentiating. The MKZ is the first vehicle from the dedicated Lincoln Design Studio. The dramatic split-wing grille and distinctive, full-width LED taillight array help the MKZ stand out from the crowd.
The Lincoln Motor Company earned top honors in an AutoPacific awards survey that measures satisfaction among new-vehicle owners. In the 18th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards – which identify owner satisfaction using 50 attributes that range from interior comfort to fuel economy – Lincoln was named “Top Premium Brand”. The Lincoln MKZ was named best Luxury Mid-Size Car and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid was named best Hybrid/EV Car.
USAA, a leading financial services provider to the U.S. military community and their families, recently named the 2014 Lincoln MKZ to its fourth-annual Best Value vehicles list, which identifies the top 2014 vehicles in their respective categories based on the proprietary USAA Preferred vehicle rating system.
The 2014 Lincoln MKZ is the top vehicle in the Midsize Luxury category, recognized for offering fuel efficiency and superior safety.
Also, the Lincoln MKZ was named the best compact premium vehicle in the latest J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study reflecting the high marks owners give the vehicle for exterior styling, intuitive technology, seat comfort and storage.
And lastly, in the just released 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study the Lincoln brand was ranked among the top ten.
Take a look at www.lincoln.com for more Lincoln product information. And you can do premium sedan comparisons here at www.theautochannel.com.
As the car drivers of the U.S. continue to transition to more fuel efficient vehicles using smaller displacement gasoline engines, or diesels for that matter, or hybrids with a combination of gasoline and electric we will see more and more manufacturers follow in the footsteps of Lincoln with favorably priced choices. How much extra we need to spend up front to save on fuel costs over the long run is important for everyone to consider when car shopping.
Watch the original introduction of the newly designed Lincoln MKZ
© Larry Nutson