- What’s Good: Premium luxury appointments, style and entry-lux elegance in a mid-size sedan with hybrid technology.
- What’s Bad: Some compromises to luggage room, fuel tank size. A plug-in would be more advantageous (but might be coming in next gen model)
The Lincoln MKZ makes the most of modern sedan styling and content while staking its roots in Lincoln’s storied past, hosting the latest techs and amenities under the historic brand auspices of “Mark” and “Zephyr” name influences.
This is that rarest of beasts these days – a car.
Because customers continue to cross over to, umm . . crossovers. Even within the Lincoln lineup, sedan numbers have dwindled to two survivors – the MKZ and Continental – countered by four crossover/SUVs – the MKC, Nautilus (MKX), MKT and Navigator.
The MKZ four-door, five-passenger near-lux mid-size sedan is the entry point to a Lincoln lineup that continues to straddle the desires of both its traditional base and a new breed of potential customers.
The MKZ was recently refreshed for 2017 with sleeker exterior lines and an upgrade in interior design, materials and quality.
I tested a broad swath of those new model choices last year so maybe we’ll do a quick rehash before we zero in on our 2018 MKZ 2.0H hybrid tester.
The MKZ is offered in two trim levels – Select and Reserve – and in three powertrain choices – 2.0-litre, 3.0-litre and 2.0H hybrid models.
Here in Canada, all gas-powered models are mated to a six-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive.
But the 2.0H hybrid powertrain, with bulkier battery accommodation aft, only comes in a front-wheel-drive configuration and it gathers its combined engine/electric power via an eCVT transmission.
The 2018 MKZ lineup starts with the MKZ Select ($36,550, prices based on current online discounts) with a standard 245 hp 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine rated at 11.8/8.4L/100km (city/hwy).
The MKZ Reserve ($44,600) bumps up both the package contents and price. Anyone with a hankering for more horses under the hood can up Reserve content significantly with the 400 hp 3.0-litre turbo V6 option ($4,500), rated at 14/11.8L/100km (city/hwy).
But customers leaning more to the eco side of the performance equation have the added choice of the MKZ 2.0H hybrid, also available in Select ($36,900) or Reserve ($44,950) trims.
The 2.0H model harnesses the 188 hp joint efforts of a 2.0-litre i-VCT Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder and an AC-synchronous electric motor powered by a 1.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Fuel economy is rated at 5.7/5.9L/100km (city/hwy).
Urban driving with frequent engine idle stops, short stretches of low speed EV and increased hybrid assists results in better fuel economy in the city rather than on the highway. My real world results with the 2.0H, both this year and last, averaged out just over 6L/100km (comb).
As you’d expect, based on the 2.0H’s lesser power numbers and increased mass, the hybrid powertrain doesn’t quite have the snap of the base 2.0 turbo model, let alone the thrust of the more powerful 3.0 turbo V6 version.
But the 2.0H does not feel exceptionally sluggish and there’s more than with enough acceleration available for everyday driving demands.
All models in the MKZ lineup start with a healthy list of included equipment but our upscale 2.0H Reserve tester leaves little to be desired, including Active Noise Control, auto high beams, blind spot sensing and rear cross-traffic alert along with Lincoln Connect, SYNC3 with navigation and more. A long list of options adds about $12K worth of extras.
The cabin is low ceilinged but comfortable enough and handsome with sweeping dash and door contours, lavishly upholstered in the kind of creamy Cappuccino perforated leather that Mama warned you about.
There’s average mid-size room inside with some seat adjustment compromise required from front occupants.
Cargo capacity is about 28 per cent less than in regular MKZ models (314 litres instead of 436 litres) due to battery pack incursion into the trunk space. But there’s probably still enough room to sling a couple of golf bags into the trunk.
Nitpicks aside, the 2018 Lincoln MKZ 2.0H hybrid scores a lot of check marks in the plus column.
While thrift may not be the primary concern in the entry luxury category, customers looking for a more sustainable transportation solution will doubtless be pleased by this combination of fuel efficient performance made pleasant by a host of included luxuries, techs and amenities.
At first glance, the price positioning (based on current online discounts) certainly seems attractive, only $350 more than a similarly equipped gasoline-powered model. But keep in mind that the hybrid models do eliminate AWD benefits with their front-wheel-drive-only restriction.
With sedans still suffering a constant “carmageddon” due to crossover popularity, and with the coming demise of the MKZ’s Ford Fusion sibling, there are some doubts about the future of the MKZ. But Lincoln is still playing to at least a partly traditional customer base, maintaining that it will carry on with the MKZ with a revision, possibly adding a plug-in model, rumoured for 2020 or so.
But, for the nonce, the MKZ carries on with 2019 models available for order and arriving soon.
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