2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid review: Clean, green and seldom seen

2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Why would anyone buy the 2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid? Don’t get us wrong. Despite the whipping boy status assigned it by so many auto critics, we like the MKZ and appreciate how it has, to use a term for when someone’s opinion has changed to be more like yours, grown over the past few years. And that’s not in size but rather in execution.

For example, the flamboyant ailar grille reviled by some members of the press stands out among more pedestrian offerings—and in a good way—from other luxury carmakers, and the slim across-the-rear taillight (note the singular) is similarly distinctive. And kudos for the black cape behind the rear window that extends the roofline over the trunklid for a sleeker look without the inconvenience of a smaller trunk opening.

2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid dash

The 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid dash is organic and stylish. (click to enlarge)

The interior doesn’t fail either. It’s in the same league as Audi and Infiniti for organic styling, and for touch and feel it’s among the best as well. The seats are comfortable, and ride and handling are excellent for those who don’t put “sports car-like” on their list of must-haves. Yet it’s still confident, controlled and mature. It’s suited for the roads Americans drive most.

The Lincoln MKZ is based on the same platform as the Ford Fusion, over which we’ve gushed in its several iterations. But a platform is just a platform, a basic architecture that can be changed and modified to build an Alfa Romeo and a Dodge, or a Volkswagen and an Audi, and so on and on. It the case of the Fusion/MKZ, the two share nary a body panel, and as much as we liked the innards of the Fusion, the Lincoln is playing in a completely different orchestra.

The Fusion and MKZ don’t get the same engines. Well, they share one engine. The standard engine for the MKZ is Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. It’s the top engine for the Fusion. The MKZ is also available with a conventional 3.7-liter V-6 engine rated at 300 horsepower. If Lincoln really wanted to go closer to toe-to-toe with Cadillac, they’d find a way to stuff the 5.0-liter V-8 under the hood, except that the Lincoln MKZ, when it isn’t all-wheel drive, is front-wheel drive. And a longitudinal V-8 won’t go where a transverse V-6 will.

2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (click to enlarge)

The Fusion and MKZ have one other common drivetrain. Both are available as hybrids, and we tested the Ford Fusion Hybrid as a 2014 model. There’s no difference mechanically between the 2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and its cousin from Ford. Both have a 141-horsepower two-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine that, with the electric motor, produce a net output of 188 horsepower. Fuel economy is estimated at 38 mpg city and 37 mpg highway for the 2014 Lincoln. Oddly enough, the2015 Fusion Hybrid carries an estimate of 44/41 mpg city/highway. The only difference is reputed to be the aerodynamics—the coastdown estimate based on windtunnel testing—but Ford was caught in something of an in flagrante delicto and had to reduce all of the mileage estimates for its assorted hybrids. Look around the internet at various Ford sites and you’ll see different numbers, probably depending on when they were posted.

Well, they are estimates. We’ll say simply that we recorded an overall 33.3 mpg in this test of the 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, with 38.4 mph in mostly highway driving. Our test 2014 Ford Fusion achieved a 33.7 mpg overall. Both of these mileage figures were during cold weather, and both in the same hilly terrain. If your driving is in flatter, warmer conditions, you’ll likely do better.

Typical of full hybrid vehicles, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) linking its gas engine to the ground, and like most such devices, it takes getting used to full throttle operation, which sends the engine to near max revs as vehicle speed catches up.

2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (click to enlarge)

The engine, however, vibrates when it’s running in a most un-Lincoln-like manner. It’s a characteristic of this engine and it needs more insulation from the cabin. It’s not something one should expect from a Lincoln.

We suggest cross-shopping the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid against the Lexus ES 300h. The 2014 ES 300h we tested had a base price of $38,850. Well optioned, it had a bottom line of $46,070. The test 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid had a base price of $36,190 but was optioned up to $43,420. There’s a panoramic sunroof option, however, if you want to push the price even higher.

Especially with the current low price of gas, there isn’t the financial incentive to hook up with a hybrid, much less a luxury hybrid, as there might have been a year ago. On the other hand, the price tag on the Hybrid is the same as on the standard MKZ. The buyer, however, would fall in that overlap in a Venn diagram between Lincoln buyers—a relatively small circle—and hybrid intenders (perhaps an even smaller circle). Don’t expect to see an MKZ Hybrid on every block.

Which perhaps is a reason for some to buy a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. It’s clean, green and seldom seen.

Next page for specifications and window sticker.