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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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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Month Ago
      It's kind of pointless, but I like it. It's a "fuel saving technology" that doesn't really add anything to the manufacturing cost of the car, besides a few hours of programming. Split between tens if no hundreds of thousands of vehicles, the cost per vehicle is negligible.

      When buying the car used, it's a sign that the car was truly "lady driven".
        • 1 Month Ago
        "When buying the car used, it's a sign that the car was truly "lady driven"."

        Good point. That's a huge plus for resale value, I didn't even think of that.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Great, but it's needs a Wagon model.
      • 1 Month Ago
      I will never buy a car with "fruity leaves" on my cluster; are you fing kidding me?!
      • 1 Month Ago
      But what would REALLY be great would be if you drove the car hard, all the blossoms would die, the leaves would fall off, the branches would disappear, and all that would be replaced with the face of Al Gore, crying, with his voice saying (in Forrest Gump voice), "Life is Like a Box of Chocolates."

      Sorry, it's Monday Morning and I am in one of those moods.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Never mind overpriced, irrelevant hybrids.

      The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan have flex-fuel models, why not the virtually identical Lincoln MKZ?
        • 1 Month Ago
        Never mind the same old, me-too, cookie cutter cars. How about a real, unique Lincoln instead? I'm not against hybrids, but Lincoln should concentrate on being Lincoln, not another dressed-up Ford. If they can build something similar or even remotely similar to a Lexus LS600h or any of the upcoming Mercedes hybrids, then I'll be impressed.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Sooo is this going to be the next fad like the Tamagotchi? lol

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