When the Ford Fusion Hybrid hit the market in 2009, it created a lot of justified buzz as the first full-hybrid sedan from a domestic automaker.But Ford also said a similar hybrid would soon wear the Lincoln brand. True to their word, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has arrived, joining Lexus in pursuit of upscale clientele that also want greener travels. So let’s see just what kind of current this luxury electric generates.

The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is mechanically a clone of the Fusion Hybrid. But styling and features definitely put a more elegant point to its design. The revived split-wing Lincoln grille up front—and at the rear, elongated taillights—fit well into an overall conservative sedan styling.Ford’s keyless entry key pad is standard. And when you do need gas, a capless EasyFuel system is ready to receive. And to keep things subtle, hybrid badges are the only hint at this MKZ’s gasoline-electric heart.

Even after turning the key you might not even know the MKZ hybrid has started with just the electric motor whirring. But when the 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder kicks in, you’ll know right away—it’s somewhat buzzy under heavy throttle. The gasoline engine generates the same 156 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque as it does in the Fusion Hybrid. Coupled to a 106-horsepower alternating current electric motor, the MKZ’s hybrid drivetrain has a net total of 191 horsepower. That’s more than its direct rival, the Lexus HS 250h. Like the Lexus, a front-drive CVT automatic is the sole transmission. All leading to Government Fuel Economy ratings of 41 city/36 highway, and 39 combined. That’s almost double the regular MKZ’s combined economy, and also more than the Lexus. We scored 35.8 miles per gallon of regular.That’s about 10% lower than in our Fusion Hybrid test, but still impressive for a mid-size sedan. The MKZ Hybrid’s 8.8-barrels-per-year Energy Impact Score and Carbon Footprint of 4.8 tons of CO2 emitted annually are barely half that of the regular MKZ.

On the other hand, the roomy cabin has all the upscale and useful bits available on the regular MKZ. Standard on the hybrid is a nicely detailed dash with wood-like accents. Standard too are comfortable, heated and cooled front seats with premium leather and 10-way power. They bracket a flat shift console with covered storage and cupholders. The main interior difference is the Hybrid-specific SmartGauge cluster with EcoGuide, a colorful, engaging way to keep track of fuel economy, with a goal of five white flowers blooming in the right screen. There is also a 4.2-inch display in the center stack. It’s home to standard voice activated SYNC with 9-1-1 Assist, Bluetooth, and turn by turn navigation. It also displays which hybrid components are in use. Our car added the on-screen navigation package, which includes a backup camera and a Blind Spot Warning system.

There is no change in rear seat room over the standard MKZ, although the hybrid’s nickel-metal hydride battery pack eliminates folding seat backs. The battery further limits trunk space to a smallish 11.8 cubic feet. At the track, our MKZ hybrid didn’t feel particularly quick.

The CVT bogged down a little in the middle of the rev-band, but from there, power built nicely to near redline. We posted a 0 to 60 of 8.4 seconds, and a 16.4 second quarter mile at 90 miles per hour. Times are a little slower than the Fusion Hybrid, but a little faster than the HS 250h. It should come as no surprise that the MKZ is softly sprung. Obviously, ride comfort is the top priority. Body roll and understeer plagued our trip through the cones. Still, we found the electric power steering gave good feedback, making handling very predictable. Off the track, and on public roads, the MKZ’s all-independent suspension went to work, gliding over bumps and broken pavement just like a Lincoln should.

With careful use of throttle, you can get by on just battery power at speeds of up to 47 miles per hour. Our staff thinks the Regenerative Braking System takes some getting use to as it displays a tendency to grab at the end of a hard stop. The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid starts for $35,180, again undercutting the Lexus HS 250h. If you need less frills, the Ford Fusion Hybrid goes for about seven grand less.

The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is a good edition to a nameplate badly in need of some crowd pleasing products. It does everything a standard MKZ does, but on a lot less gas. And despite all the current hype about pure-electric cars, hybrids are likely to play a larger role in near-term fuel conservation. The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is ready for that role, and in style.


  • Engine: 2.5-Liter Atkinson Cycle 4-Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 191
  • Torque: 136 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 8.4 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 16.4 Seconds @ 90 MPH
  • EPA: 41 MPG City/ 36 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 35.8 MPG
  • Energy Impact : 8.8 Barrels Oil/Yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 4.8 Tons/Yr