Where Luxury and Fuel Efficiency Intersect
- Sexy and stealthy styling
- Balance between ride quality and handling
- THX® II Certified Audio System
- Good fuel economy at 39 mpg overall
- MyLincoln Touch Command Center
- Overall performance
- Interior quality just shy of luxury level
The 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid blends sophisticated styling, and technology into a package that takes Lincoln to new levels of luxury and performance. Though not as desirable as some others in its category — for instance, the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 series or Lexus ES 300h — the MKZ Hybrid offers a uniquely opulent design, an efficient powertrain, and a nice roster of upscale amenities.
At first glance, the MKZ Hybrid appears to be a hungry shark that will take its passengers on the ride of their lifetime. Inside the fit and finish of the MKZ Hybrid is upscale. The exterior is stealthy and sexy; the interior is filled with nicely appointed materials and detail flowed throughout the cabin. While there were a few missteps, like the sharp edges that encompass the center of the steering wheel that caught our fingers or some of the hard plastic pieces throughout the interior, the overall experience exuded affordable luxury.
One feature we liked was the MKZ’s the drive-by-wire gear shifting – the ability to park, drive, and change gears using the six-speed SelectShift Automatic with push-buttons conveniently located on the driver’s side dashboard. The first few times we missed grabbing a gear selector handle, but pushing buttons located next to the steering wheel proved to be convenient and allowed the designers to give the cabin to have a more open feel by taking away the conventional transmission’s space-consuming rods and linkages.
Environmentally responsible power is provided by a 188 horsepower 2.0-liter Atkinson-Cycle hybrid system that belies the threat of the car’s aggressive styling, but can achieve 41 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway according to EPA estimates. We observed an impressive 39 mpg after our week with the MKZ Hybrid.
188 horsepower isn’t a lot, but the MKZ delivers what torque it has low down in the rev range. The MKZ Hybrid never feels slow and power is delivered in a smooth and consistent manner. The engine periodically starts and stops a bit roughly, but it doesn’t switch off and on that often. By no means is this hybrid powerplant and continuously variable transmission combination a detriment to the experience.
While the MKZ Hybrid generally provided the driver with a smooth ride and good feel for the terrain of the road, it was far from luxurious as it did only a fair job of absorbing the typical bumps and bruises of modern day pavement and was often antsy at high speeds. Keeping two hands on the steering wheel is highly recommended when driving at any speed with the MKZ.
Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The interior of the MKZ Hybrid, like the exterior, is beautiful – there is plenty of real wood and leather, the driver’s display is an excellent combination of traditional gauges with digital enhancements, and the in-dash buttons are placed in logical and easy-to-reach location, which provides the interior with a contemporary and refined look.
While the lack of traditional knobs and controls make the dashboard appear very state-of-the-art, the actual functionality was lacking – the voice-control quality was poor and we could never really get the SYNC system to take action from verbal commands. Instead, we had to apply significant pressure to the touch control panel in order to enjoy the benefits of the 8-inch LCD command center.
Plus, there were times we longed for traditional knobs because using the slide control to adjust airflow and temperature was challenging at times. Frustrated with the inconsistent response of the slide control, we would resort to using the LCD screen and SYNC system to control the airflow and temperature of the cabin. Seems straightforward, but simplicity is lost when you have to drill down into the climate control menu on the screen before accessing the climate controls.
One of the best options is 14-speaker, 700 watt THX® II Certified Audio System. You don’t need to be an audiophile to enjoy the clarity and sound quality of Lincoln’s surround sound system that is custom tuned for each model in the line-up — it sounded fantastic both at city and freeway speeds.
More drive time with the MKZ Hybrid uncovered more downsides than highlights. The seats were padded nicely and soft to the touch, but found that the headrests were only adjustable up and down, forcing the passenger’s head forward creating an uncomfortable driving and riding experience. The rear seats offered heat to its passengers, but the lack of headroom for taller individuals made sitting in the rear cabin a burden beyond a short trip.
What others are saying about the MKZ Hybrid
The editors at CNET think the 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid offers a good set of high tech features that ease driving and increase comfort, but the car falls short of the luxury feel of competitors from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.
Edmunds appreciated the value of the MKZ Hybrid with its long list of standard features, excellent fuel economy, and eye-catching exterior design. We agree with them about how the MyLincolnTouch system and slide control was finicky to use, and the underwhelming interior quality.
While we do not believe the car is worthy of its price tag or distinction as best-in-class, it does deserve a look for those who want to drive a uniquely styled American hybrid sedan and can tolerate some of its ergonomic shortcomings and luxury feel.
2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
- Engine: 2.0L Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Hybrid Engine
- Power: 141 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 129 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
- Electric motor: permanent magnet AC synchronous motor
- Battery: 1.4kWh Lithium-ion (Li-iom)
- Battery power: 35 kW
- Total system horsepower: 188 hp
- Transmission: Electronic Continuously Variable (e-CVT) automatic
- EPA fuel estimate (mpg): 41 city / 36 hwy / 39 observed