Tom Crosby: Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Sedan combines luxury and mileage

Tom Crosby

When Lincoln likes a redesigned model, it takes its time tinkering with success. Thus the 2014 MKZ mid-size luxury sedan remains relatively unchanged from a 2013 makeover and is not expected to undergo major changes in 2015, either. The MKZ has consistently attracted new drivers from other brands, a marketing success for Ford, Lincoln’s parent company.

We test-drove the 2014 MKZ hybrid, similar to its gasoline-only siblings, but able to travel 500 miles between fill-ups — an EPA adjusted range from a previous 600-mile estimate. The hybrid costs the same as the gasoline-only model, but uses tire sealant instead of a spare tire and shrinks trunk space due to the battery pack location. However, space remains ample for most needs.

The lithium-ion batteries power a 70 KW electric traction motor that can handle an 85 mph cruising speed. Riding on the same platform as Ford’s less expensive and popular Fusion sedan, the front-wheel drive MKZ’s lustrous skin is very different with a huge split waterfall grille linked to wrap-around headlights, character creases differentiating the sheet metal and LED taillights to complement LED headlights.

Inside, options that ramped up our comfort and safety were an Equipment Group including navigation and rear camera alerts; a Technology Package including park assist, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping; rear inflatable seat belts, and exterior paint to create a sparkling Platinum-colored patina.

The ride was comfortably compliant with MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension; handling was responsive and sure-handed with Lincoln’s Drive Control. Noise levels were well muted, even under acceleration. Inside, the look is clean, with a flat, glossy smooth dashboard with touch controls — no knobs or buttons. However, it was challenging and driver distracting to achieve desired settings. Wearing sunglasses, red symbols became invisible and selections required rubbing a finger precisely on the console and then driver observation to confirm a setting.

An 8-inch touchscreen above those controls provides access to improved navigation functions, audio, climate and phone controls. Finger selection can be avoided using MySync voice controls; however, it sometimes required repeated commands to accurately respond.

Gear shifting occurs done old-style with push buttons, instead of a lever. Safety ratings are strong, with the MKZ earning top or near top scores both in government and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests. Our test drive didn’t have it, but a neat add-on option is a multi-contoured seat with back massager.

LIKES: Looks, comfort, ride, mileage, handling, price.
DISLIKE: Dashboard controls.
BOTTOM LINE: Mileage rarely found in a full-size luxury sedan.
Base price w/destination fee $37,085 ($43,420 as tested)
Curb weight 3,828 lbs
Wheelbase 112.2 inches
Length 194.1 inches
Width 73.4 inches
Engine specs 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-Valve,
inline 4 cylinders
Horsepower 188 hp at 6,000 rpm
Torque 129 ft.-lbs. at 4,000 rpm
Transmission Continuously variable
EPA Rating 38 mpg city and 37 mpg
Range 13.5-gallon tank, regular
unleaded fuel
Performance 0-60 in just over 8 seconds