When the 2011 Lincoln MKZ hybrid goes on sale this fall, it will have an updated version of the SmartGauge that debuted last year on the Ford Fusion hybrid. The basics of SmartGauge remain the same, with a pair of 4.3 LCD displays flanking a central speedometer. The LCDs can display several layers of information detail to help coach the driver to be a more efficient motorist.

The most obvious change the color palette for the LCD gauges. They have been changed from a predominantly blue scheme to what Lincoln officials describe as a more upscale-looking green and gold. The leaves on the right of the display have been present since the introduction of system on the Fusion and provide a graphical representation of the short-term average fuel economy. The more thrifty your driving style, the more leaves you get. Behave like a lead-foot and they dissolve.

SmartGauge now also provides an indication of long-term efficiency. The flowers that are visible on the display are apple blossoms (the Michigan state flower). If your average mileage is sufficient (Ford won't say what kind of mileage you actually need), the first flowers will begin to appear after 4-6 weeks. The flowers first appear as buds and then grow into small and finally large flowers. More flowers appear over time but the more you get, the more time it will take to earn more. If you earn all of the flowers you will have saved about $8,000 in fuel costs and 30 tons of CO2 over the life of the car. That's a digital achievement to be proud of.

[Source: Ford]

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