The hybrid version of the Ford Fusion is an excellent car, so the decision to make a hybrid version of the Fusion's platform mate, the Lincoln MKZ, should have been easy, especially as the demise of the Mercury brand took out the Mercury Milan Hybrid.

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As with most brand-engineered vehicles, the MKZ Hybrid differs little from the Fusion Hybrid. Both have the same midsize sedan platform and similar profiles. The MKZ Hybrid gets Lincoln styling in the form of a big, winged grille on the front.

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Main power for the car comes from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, assisted by a 106-horsepower electric motor and nickel metal hydride battery pack. The combined output of this system equals 191 horsepower.

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Instead of the curving roofline seen on so many midsize sedans, the MKZ Hybrid's more angular styling gives it a stodgy appearance. But it is very practical, with the high roofline making for easy access to front and rear seats.

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The ride quality of the MKZ Hybrid differs little from that of the Ford Fusion Hybrid, a key area where Lincoln should differentiate itself. Both are firm, and damp out bumps well.

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Trunk space seems compromised, although not severely, due to the battery pack. And there is no pass-through to the cabin for long items.

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The cabin shows luxury amenities, such as wood trim and seats with heating and cooling. Leather also abounds in the cabin.

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Buttons down the sides of the steering wheel hub control audio, cruise control, and voice command. These buttons are not as nice as those used in the new MyFord Touch equipped vehicles.

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With the hybrid system's virtual continuously variable transmission, there are no fixed gears. Instead, a planetary gearset finds the right ratio for the car's current running status.

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The instrument cluster display offers a number of configurations, show different information about the hybrid system. And the flower graphics on the right grow or wither depending on driving efficiency.

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This minimalist display option for the instrument cluster merely shows system temperature and fuel gauge, leaving out power gauges or engine speed, which most people don't need to know while driving.

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The MKZ Hybrid offers this power animation on its main screen, which has become typical for hybrid cars. It shows when the battery is charging and when the gas engine is running.

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This configurable home screen shows navigation, audio information, and fuel economy.

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The hard-drive-based navigation system shows maps in 2D or 3D, with some rendered buildings in the latter view. Traffic information is overlaid on the map.

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The onscreen keyboard for destination input is easy to use, but voice command works equally well. Lincoln gave these menu screens an attractive style.

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The MKZ Hybrid offers many sources for audio, including CD, USB drive, MP3 player, and its own hard drive.

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The MP3 player interface offers the usual categories of artist, genre, and album, amongst others. You can also select music using voice command.

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Lincoln includes HD radio in its cabin tech, delivering cleaner-sounding audio from FM stations that offer an HD radio broadcast, along with multiple channels.

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The car rips CDs to its hard drive when the driver hits the record button.

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The phone system shows the battery life of a paired phone, along with its current reception level.

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The phone's contact list is made available on screen. Contacts can also be called with the voice command system, by speaking their names.

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Sync comes with 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Reports currently, and Lincoln will add more apps in the future.

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