First Drive > 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Review
Lincoln Reinvents their Luxury Midsize Sedan With Some Green Into the Mix
Review and Photos by Amee Reehal
As the global economy continues to reshape consumer behaviour and tastes, with the premium market no exception, Lincoln Motor Company is forging a new path catering to a breed of luxury car consumers with even further discriminating tastes. As Lincoln puts it, “The ‘Great Recession’ changed people and their view of luxury. Today, luxury consumers make decisions based on what appeals most to their passions and not what they believe will impress others. We know we need to continually surprise and delight these new clients.”
This all begins with the American automaker’s all-new 2013 Lincoln MKZ premium midsize sedan — the company’s first of four new Lincoln vehicles in the next four years, targeting what LIncoln calls the ‘progressive luxury consumer.’ Ford held up, pushing forward while other automakers scrambled during this recent economic downturn. Now, Lincoln seeks to further differentiate itself from it’s Ford sibling, blazing a new trail with even greater focus on the premium market.
The Luxury Hybrid
Hence, with sophisicated consumers looking for more, introducing a hybrid version into the MKZ mix only makes sense. Particularly, those seeking a luxury sedan putting fuel economy as top priority. For 2013, the Lincoln MKZ is available in nine trims, including 3 hybrids:
- HEV FWD Premiere MKZ – $38,350 CAD MSRP
- HEV FWD Reserve MKZ – $41,700
- HEV FWD Preferred MKZ – $44,050
Hybrid Powertrain & Fuel Economy
The new 2013 Lincoln MKZ finds Ford’s third-generation hybrid system combining power with efficiency. Powered by a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle I4 engine, and in true Ford-fashion, this new power train is smaller without compromising performance, producing 188 combined horsepower via gasoline engine and the electric motor. The gas engine alone produces 141-hp and 129 lb.ft of torque at 4,000 rpm with projected fuel economy figures LIncoln rates at 4.2L/100KM City, and 4.3L/100KM Highway.
During my first drive through the foothills surrounding the Blue Mountain resort in Ontario, a few hours north of Toronto, we managed a respectable 4.9L/100KM over a 2 hour drive, 105KM route. But we were driving super-conservative, preventing the gas engine from kicking in whenever possible, accelerating at intersections and uphill ascents in painfully slow fashion. Nevertheless, for this sleek yet hefty midsize hybrid sedan (with all the additional weight via engine, motor, etc), any mileage under 6L/100KM is pretty reasonable.
Combining gas engines with electric motors is the hybrid setup norm, and the MKZ Hybrid opts for the Atkinson-cycle engine. Paired with the eCVT transmission and re-generative braking, the Atkinson hybrid setup seeks to offset the lose in power with increased torque, blessing the MKZ with ample power while still rendering great fuel efficiency.
Non-hybrid engine offerings in the 2013 Lincoln MKZ include a standard 2.0L four cylinder EcoBoost, or the more powerful 3.7L V6 with an extra 37-hp compared to the outgoing 2012 MKZ model. Each belts out 240-hp and 300-hp, respectively.
Driving Dynamics: Lincoln Drive Control
As you’d expect from Lincoln, the 2013 MKZ ride is super-smooth on the open road — the most refined MKZ ever according to Lincoln. Frankly, I couldn’t disagree. Our drive took us on some bumpy roads with potholes and small patches of high ripples. Well, you can hardly tell they exist until you actually look and realize you’re on a bumpy road.
All due to Lincoln Drive Control: a system that encompasses and manages several driving technologies including the CCD: Continuously Controlled Damping, which monitors the MKZ’s suspension system settings up to 500 times per second in real-time, adjusting the suspension up to 50 times per second delivering better handling with smoother driving dynamics. Essentially, when the MKZ detects a road imperfection, the dampening balances it out amongst all wheels.
…with sophisicated consumers looking for more, introducing a hybrid version into the MKZ mix only makes sense.
Other systems integrated into Lincoln Drive Control, which is always activated, includes the electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), engine, transmission, Active Noise Control (ANC), traction control and stability control systems.
The CCD and Active Noise Control (ANC) are class-exclusive standards not found in competing sedans. And a pair made in heaven; with the CCD focusing on underpinning refinement, the ANC electronically targets frequencies and reduces their intensity, ultimately, creating a better overall driving experience.
Bold MKZ Exterior Styling
I met Max Wolf a couple years ago; a fairly young dude at the helm of the Lincoln Design Studio responsible for creating this first ever Lincoln, with the 2013 MKZ, born and bred entirely at Max’s studio. Why is it important that I met the designer? It isn’t. Except that designing global cars is a pretty gnarly job…and that I’m graciously envious! But what is important is that he evidently designs sexy, sleek vehicles. And the 2013 Lincoln MKZ is absolutely stunning, boasting the world’s widest opening retractable glass roof.
Immediately, you’ll notice the classic split-wing front grille. But it’s slightly skewed; the Lincoln Design Studio’s interpretation of the 1938 throwback design. the rear end is equally stunning, if not more so, with the long LED tail lights running east to west along a blunt yet curvy rear facade. Bright and bold, energy-efficient LED headlamps turn in sync with the steering wheel providing increased visibility.
The new design is 10-percent more aerodynamic than before, via a sleeker overall shape Max explains “is a vision completed with just a few strokes.” The roofline sweeps into a steeply racked windshield, while subtle Hybrid exterior badging adorns the rear end adding a stamp of distinction.
The MKZ Cabin & Conveniences
As with most well-designed vehicles, the exterior-interior design is a melodious relationship, and the 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is no exception. The sleek instrument panel inside mimics the MKZ’s exterior front graphic while the entire cabin finds premium-grade touches with natural materials, blending rich woods with metal-toned surfaces that help set this newly designed MKZ apart.
Gone is the traditional shift lever. Instead, the Lincoln design team introduces something a little different, adding that extra touch of style and innovation, integrating a five-button interface (park, reverse, neutral, etc) integrated into the instrument cluster. Aside from the contemporary style, this Push Button Shift setup opens up space below to a more functional, spacious storage area where the conventional shifter is housed.
Overall, the cabin feels cozy and contoured. Coupled with the ANC (noise-reduction), the MKZ Hybrid becomes even more comfortable. And, of course, there’s technology. Front-and-centre of driver is a 10.1-inch full colour LCD instrument cluster paired with MyLincoln Touch including the latest SYNC version. I’m a fan of the four-corner/quadrant menu setup with easy access to navigation, climate, and audio, that now is viewed on an 8-inch LCD touch screen with a flush-mounted design.
Audio is a big deal in luxury sedans; from components to overall sound quality. An 11-speaker audiophile entertainment system is standard with the 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. But for more (much more), opt for the 700-watt, 14-speaker THX II audio system, where Lincoln engineers devoted much attention ensuring new MKZ’s sculpted interior and THX were tuned perfectly, offering true home-theater surround sound.
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