Earlier this week we reported that Ford had plans to repurpose its very well-received hybrid powertrain in the Lincoln MKZ. Makes sense, right? Both the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan (sister cars of the MKZ) benefit from the fuel-sipping mill, and by adding a bit of electric power to the Lincoln lineup, Ford is hoping to attract more buyers into its luxury division's showrooms. What's more, since Lincoln vehicles carry higher price points than comparable Ford or Mercury products, the return on this hybrid investment means a larger profit margin for the automaker as a whole.
Well, now it's official. For the 2011 model year, the Lincoln MKZ will offer the award-winning 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline/electric powertrain from the Fusion and Milan hybrids, good for up to 41 miles per gallon in the city. In doing this, Lincoln aims to compete directly with the recently introduced Lexus HS250h, and since the MKZ will net six more MPGs than the HS, it can safely take the title of most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America. What's more, the MKZ is slightly larger than the Lexus, and if Ford plays its cards right, we wouldn't be surprised if the MKZ Hybrid is less expensive than the HS, as well.
Aside from the powertrain, the new hybrid doesn't differ too much from the rest of the MKZ range. Plenty of standard amenities are on tap, such as the cool-looking SmartGauge with EcoGuide, a reverse sensing system, heated and cooled front seats, Ford's MyKey system and – of course – SYNC.
But the big question surrounding the MKZ Hybrid isn't how well it will perform against the Lexus, but if it will carry enough extra kit to significantly differentiate it from a Fusion or Milan with the same powertrain. Consumers who are only looking for efficiency might be willing to sacrifice certain luxury amenities to save money, and this dilemma has always affected MKZ sales. Still, luxury-minted customers would be wise to look at this as an alternative option to the HS250h, and we'll keep a close eye on sales numbers when the MKZ Hybrid goes on sale later this year. For now, hit the jump to read the full details in the press release, and click through our gallery below to see the electrified MKZ for yourself.
• New 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid expected to be most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America
• Lincoln MKZ Hybrid takes SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide to next level, offering drivers enhanced positive feedback on long-term fuel efficiency and driving performance
• More standard luxury, technologies and segment-exclusive safety features in the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid help it top its nearest competitor, the 2010 Lexus HS 250h
NEW YORK, March 31, 2010 – Lincoln today introduces its first hybrid – the new 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – a premium midsize car poised to be the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America.
Ford Motor Company – America's largest domestic hybrid seller – is further broadening its aggressive electrification plan and second generation of hybrid technology with the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. The vehicle is revealed today at the New York International Auto Show.
"Lincoln's hallmarks are design, technology and comfort. Now, Lincoln also delivers the best fuel efficiency of any luxury sedan in America," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas.
Lincoln's first-ever hybrid is expected to deliver at least 41 miles per gallon in the city when it goes on sale this fall. The new premium midsize sedan hybrid joins Ford Motor Company's growing lineup of hybrids, including the Ford Fusion Hybrid – 2010 North American Car of the Year and America's most fuel-efficient sedan – plus the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Milan and Mariner Hybrids.
Introduction of the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid also complements Ford's aggressive global electrification plan. Ford is introducing five new electrified vehicles by 2013. They include the Transit Connect Electric in late 2010, the Focus Electric in 2011, a next-generation hybrid electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in 2012, followed by another next-generation hybrid electric vehicle in 2013.
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid's projected fuel economy tops its nearest competitor – the 2010 Lexus HS 250h – by 6 mpg. It also trumps the Lexus with room for one more passenger and more standard luxury and segment-exclusive safety features.
"Today's luxury customers do not want to make sacrifices. Lincoln has found a way to deliver a luxury sedan with the comforts they expect, the technology they want and the environmental responsibility society demands," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president, Global Product Development.
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid uses Ford's second-generation hybrid technology – the 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle I-4 hybrid engine, named one of Ward's 2010 "10 Best Engines."
The system combines the best attributes of the gasoline engine and electric battery-driven motors to deliver optimal performance and fuel economy.
Industry-leading fuel economy comes without sacrificing power. The combined gasoline engine and electric motor provide 191 net horsepower. Plus, the pure electric mode on the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid extends to 47 mph – compared with the Lexus HS 250h battery-only mode, which reaches just 25 mph.
More standard luxury
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid comes standard with features and technologies that are either not offered on the Lexus HS 250h or are available only at an extra cost. They include:
• SmartGauge with EcoGuide – Ford's highly successful interactive technology provides real-time information to help drivers maximize fuel efficiency, and coaches drivers on how to optimize hybrid performance. Lincoln takes SmartGauge to the next level of engagement by giving drivers enhanced positive feedback on long-term fuel efficiency and driving performance through the "growth" of virtual small flowers on the system's right-most screen. Lincoln's white flowers, inspired by apple blossoms, remain permanently unless long-term fuel economy is reset.
• Lincoln SYNC® – The Lincoln-exclusive voice-activated communications and entertainment system provides an omnipresent link to contacts and information. In addition to Bluetooth® phone, audible text and MP3 player capabilities, Lincoln customers also can access Vehicle Health Report and 911 Assist™.
• 10-Way Power Passenger Seat – This seat is designed to accommodate a diverse group of passengers. Memory functions enable passengers to fine-tune and recall their positions.
• Power Driver Memory Seat Settings – The driver seat memory feature helps ensure personal seating preferences anytime, with the touch of a button.
• Heated and Cooled Front Seats – This uniquely engineered system delivers exceptional heating and cooling comfort.
• Genuine Wood Trim – In addition to their exquisite appearance, the Swirl Walnut and Olive Ash wood trims offered in the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid are eco-friendly as well. The veneers come from well-managed forests, as defined by strict environmental, social and economic standards, and from other rigorously controlled sources.
• Reverse Sensing System – This system senses what drivers might not see behind them and relays an audible alert if objects are near, which increases in frequency the closer a driver gets.
• Keyless Entry Keypad – This Lincoln-exclusive feature provides secure entry at a driver's fingertips. A personal combination holds a memory for driver preferences. So if an owner is out for a run and doesn't want to take the keys along, the vehicle can be opened with the touch of a few buttons.
• Easy Fuel® Capless Fuel-Filler – This Lincoln-exclusive feature uses an integrated spring-loaded flapper door to eliminate the need for a fuel tank screw cap. That means no more fumbling to remove and tighten the cap and less fuel odor on a driver's hands at the pump.
• Personal Safety System™ – A Lincoln-exclusive suite of seven protection technologies works together as a system to help protect vehicle occupants. The system includes dual-stage front air bags and an occupant classification system to sense whether the passenger seat is occupied. It tailors – or suppresses – air bag deployment to help provide an appropriate level of protection. It also features the Ford Belt-Minder® system to remind front-seat occupants to buckle up.
• MyKey™ – This Lincoln-exclusive feature allows parents to program a key to limit speed and audio volume to encourage teens to drive safer and improve fuel efficiency. It also encourages seat belt usage, provides earlier low-fuel warnings, and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 mph.
• Integrated Spotter Mirrors – The traditional side-view mirrors are designed with a secondary convex spotter mirror in the top outer corner, which provides a view of the driver's blind spot. When traffic enters the driver's blind spot on either side of the vehicle, it is visible in the secondary convex mirror, alerting the driver of obstacles.
• Acoustic Laminated Windshield – This windshield features a layer of sound-absorbent vinyl sandwiched between two sheets of glass, which enhances interior quietness.
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid also includes standard Bridge of Weir leather seats. The world-renowned luxury leather from Scotland is unembossed, allowing the natural beauty and character of the grain to shine through. The leather is milled for up to 12 hours to ensure a soft hand, and Bridge of Weir uses a chromium-free tanning process, which makes it easier to recycle.