It's the only Hybrid out there that doesn't charge you more, because it is one.
And it's far and away getting the most buzz of anything in the Lincoln lineup.
But is there enough of it.
Let's drive this 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, and check the tech.
So what is an MKZ?
This one is based on a Ford Fusion.
But Lincoln swears up and down from about the shin level up, it shares no parts.
I'll take them at their word, because it doesn't look like a Fusion.
In fact, in 2013 they got this dramatically new face and rump.
My unscientific poll on the street says that pedestrians and valet parking dudes have told me it's a good looker.
Now when you get into the MKZ, it's a familiar cabin.
We've seen that instrument panel before, but there are a number of subtle improvements I'm impressed with.
First of all, the touch response is suddenly much quicker on this MyFord, what they call MyLincoln Touch, then it's every been before.
I am able to hit things once and have them work.
That says enough right there.
In the past, MyFord or MyLincoln Touch did not do that.
Beyond that, the map interface and the way you enter destinations has not changed.
So, if you're familiar with that, you've seen this before.
One thing I want to point out about MyFord and MyLincoln Touch is it's a very much, if you see it you can touch it interface.
There's almost nothing on here that you can't touch to act on.
Everything here is very direct and I gotta give em kudos for that.
Some things are unusual.
Only on this hybrid are this energy flow screen.
You will not have seen this on another MyFord or MyLincoln Touch non-hybrid.
And like Audi for example, Ford uses a four corner logic.
Upper right is Nav, upper left is Communication, lower left is Entertainment, lower right is Climate.
Then you get to screens like this.
You go to Settings, and you go down here to your Wireless and Internet.
And then you go, what?
Who put that in a car?
I've seen routers that are simpler to configure than this.
So they're still kinda drinking the Kool Aid.
Your media choices are many on these systems, from USB drives, you have two of those.
My iPod and my USB driver connected.
Bluetooth streaming, of course, SD card.
AM/FM and HD satellite radio.
Still got an optical disc in here, so.
This is a really, really, multi headed hydra, that works well for all your media.
On the other hand, kind of a paucity of apps, there really aren't any.
Because the irony with Ford products, is that if you get the high end, MyTouch interface, you don't get the broad support for apps that you get with sync at a lower level.
That's been a weird schism in the Ford layout, and it still continues here.
Now another thing they've improved dramatically, finally, are these two touch ribbons for volume, and for fan, that works really well.
Volume goes up and down smoothly.
The fan goes up and down smoothly, the first time.
Other controls here can be a little nebulous.
I mean you just touch on the actual bezel here, to do things like temperature raise and tuning and changing climate mode.
Push button shifter over here.
I have a gripe with these, they all feel and operate the same way.
And that may sound obvious.
But that means that they don't have a unique personality which I think is important for drive controls.
It seems a little, a little too easy for me to change modes.
Now of course by not having a shifter here and moving it to these buttons you pick up some more console space.
And of course we've seen the many screens over here on the sides of the speedometer.
The most interesting one I want to show you is the one that is a driver momentum coach.
It will coach you into how well you're modulating your acceleration, your braking, even your cruising to maximize fuel efficiency and recharge the battery which is right next to it.
The Sport Normal and Comfort Mode is oddly buried here, in a menu.
EB-Plus mode kicks in when the car knows you're near one of your typical destinations; it learns those and puts itself more into electric mode as you approach one.
Ecocruise dials back the power during cruise control, so you may actually drop below your set speed but save energy.
Of course, there's blind spot and cross traffic alert sensing, and a forward collision warning technology that flashes a big light in the windshield before you rear end someone, but is otherwise mostly passive.
Automatic parking is something Ford brands pioneered at low cost.
And on the MKZ it works really well, but a near future model might have Ford's next level of this tech, which would also control the throttle and the brake.
Not just the wheel.
Okay, in the engine bay of our hybrid is a hybrid.
Two liter, four cylinder, lean burn Atkinson cycle engine is your combustion component.
That's combined with a 70 kW electric motor.
So, what does it all add up to?
188 total system horsepower.
Ford quotes the torque as 129 wimpy foot pounds.
It concerns me cuz 129 foot pounds is about the same as me on a bicycle.
This car weighs almost 3,800 pounds.
It's not a lightweight yet it still delivers 45/45 MPGs, there's your payoff.
And 0 to 60 is fine at 8.8 seconds.
One choice only on the drivetrain of course, front wheel drive only, no all wheel drive available on this guy.
Automatic transmission, there's no manual.
Okay, on the road the first and the biggest shortcoming of this vehicle comes across, and that is just a lackluster powertrain.
You get on the pedal and things start to rev, but the power doesn't arrive.
And the car almost never runs in EV mode, which is very nice when it works.
Torquey, silent, that's a cool thing about some hybrids.
This one doesn't do that.
The engine's almost always on, and it sounds like the grinder they use at Starbuck's.
Now I'm calling BS on that 129 foot pound rating.
That just can't be right cuz this car gets up out of its way quite well, just not in a way that's exhilarating.
You hear that?
I'm stepping on the gas, the engine's going up and down and up and down and the car's not moving in relation to that.
It's just, oh, real rubbery and disconnected.
That side the ride quality's quite good.
All KMZ's as I understand it have an adaptive suspension.
This one certainly does.
The steering's over assisted as well at all speeds.
They just didn't do a good job tuning that.
If they're going after sort of a, a precision import feel, you don't get that.
This is like an old Lincoln feel.
Okay, pricing our MKZ Hybrid, here's the big headline.
This is the only hybrid on the market that does not cost any more than the non-hybrid version of the same car, so about $37,000 delivered.
But there's quite a bit to add to go CNET style.
5,375 is the big one for the preferred package, including the backup camera and sensors, HD radio, navigation, blind spot and cross traffic alert, a power trunk, the bigger wheels, heated seats, THX audio and more.
Then another 2,200 or so, for the technology package.
That includes adaptive cruise control, the automatic forward collision prevention and braking, lane departure warning, active and passive.
And that very good automatic parking technology.
Finally for 1,200 bucks you can get a standard glass roof like we have.
I'm going all the way though, 2,995, I know it's a lot, to get a panoramic glass roof.
They do a nice job on these cars.
It's a nice looking car.
It's got some vastly improved cabin tech, and Lincoln's come quite a ways.
But not far enough to make the argument to pick this over much else.
I'm sorry to say it but this is a car that still needs another leap forward.
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