by Michael Butler
Driving large premium sedans is so '90s, but these cars are rebranding themselves from gas-guzzling free-capitalist power-mobiles to eco-friendly protest, and we must say, most manufacturers are doing a convincing job. Lincoln enters this race with its soon-to-be-discontinued MKZ Hybrid, which, for $42,500, will get you 188 hp, 129 lb-ft of torque, and an impressive 41 mpg. The Hybrid is also one of the best-specced in the MKZ range thanks to its standard Reserve package, which adds niceties such as Navigation and SiriusXM Traffic. The MKZ Hybrid doesn't like to be rushed and is at its best when cruising around town at a respectable speed. It's comfortable and has some good features, but it doesn't stand up to the competition dynamically, and at this price, some competitors start to look mighty appealing.
The new decade brings with it some sad tidings; the Lincoln MKZ range of midsize sedans will be coming to the end of its life after the 2020 model year, but instead of letting it die in peace, Lincoln has decided to give it one last sprucing up before it enters the pearly piston gates. Changes for 2020 include new paint colors such as Red Carpet, Empire Blue, and Silver Radiance, while colors such as Ingot Silver and Ruby Red fall away. Lane-keep assist is also added to the list of standard driver assistance features.
2.0-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid borrows styling elements from cars such as the Jaguar XJ and Mercedes-Benz CLS, and we must admit that its subdued but handsome Euro styling looks pretty good. Standard exterior features include auto-folding side view mirrors, a power moonroof, auto high-beam headlights, rain-sensing window wipers, and LED-illuminated door handles.
The MKZ Hybrid measures in with a total length of 193.9 inches and rolls on a 112.2-inch wheelbase. With the mirrors folded in, the Lincoln is 75.1 inches wide, with them folded out, that number grows to 83.3 inches, and the whole deal sits 58.1 inches off of the ground. Curb weight comes in at 3,849 lbs.
Outright performance isn't the focus here: the 2020 Lincoln Hybrid offers linear power delivery from its modest gas/hybrid powertrain. Under the hood, you'll find a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter iVCT engine, which is far removed from the other engine options on the MKZ, including a twin-turbocharged 400 hp 3.0-liter V6. The gas engine makes use of the Atkinson-cycle combustion process and is mated to a permanent-magnet AC-synchronous electric motor. In total, this setup produces a combined output of 188 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission is tasked with sending power to the front wheels. With a bulky curb weight and meager power, the MKZ Hybrid delivers performance that can be best described as languid.
The MKZ Hybrid handles like you'd think a 3,800-pound hybrid Lincoln would: it is gorgeously supple and delivers good ride quality in all ride settings, which consist of comfort, normal, and sport. This is mostly thanks to the standard Lincoln Drive Control adaptive suspension system, as well as a light electric power-assisted steering system, and active noise control. Around town the MKZ is easy to pilot in tight spaces, despite its large size, and soaks up slow-speed bumps with ease. Steering is light, but the car can be placed with reasonable accuracy, but don't expect to be thrilled when navigating a set of tight corners; the MKZ will keep you on the road, but it's far from dynamic.
For those who like the styling and comfort offered by the MKZ, but don't want to spend their life savings fueling turbocharged engines, the Hybrid offers some seriously impressive gas mileage figures. Transitioning between gas and hybrid is seamless, and the lithium-ion battery is constantly being charged when not in all-electric mode via regenerative braking. In all-electric mode, the Lincoln MKZ is able to travel at speeds of up to 85 mph. The EPA rates the Hybrid MKZ at 42/39/41 mpg city/highway/combined. The Ford Fusion Hybrid will do a similar 43/41/42 mpg, and the Lexus ES Hybrid will get an impressive 43/44/44 mpg. With a maximum fuel capacity of 14-gallons, you should see a maximum range of over 500 miles.
The MKZ is a large car if you look at its exterior dimensions alone, but that size doesn't really translate to the interior. Don't get us wrong; there's still more than enough room to fit five average-sized adults, but competitors such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid offer more. Headroom is measured at 37.9 inches in the front, and 36.6 in the rear. Front-seat occupants will be happy to hear that there is a spacious 44.3 inches of legroom space, but that number drops significantly in the rear, where you only get 37 inches.
Hybrid vehicles have a tendency to gobble up trunk space due to the battery pack taking up more room, but some manufacturers have circumnavigated this issue by mounting the battery pack low down in the body, which not only opens up some free space but also drops the car's center of gravity, which in turn aids handling. This, however, is not the case with the 2020 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid; whereas gas-powered cars get a total trunk space of 15.4 cubic feet, Hybrid models only get 11.1, a significant drop. Thankfully you also get a 60/40 split-fold-flat rear seat, which opens up some more space.
Small items can be stored in the generously sized center console storage bin, and there's a handy nook below the climate control buttons for a pair of sunglasses or mobile phone. You also get a set of cupholders in front, and a glove box. In the back, there's a pair of seatback pockets and narrow door bins, too.
You won't be left feeling cheated after you purchase an MKZ Hybrid: there's an impressive list of standard features on the Hybrid, thanks to it being only available in the premium Reserve trim spec, which includes most base model features and tops it off with some truly upmarket goodies. The exterior of the MKZ Hybrid features adaptive suspension, rain-sensing window wipers, a reverse sensing system, as well as adaptive high-intensity discharge headlamps with LED lighting, heated side-view mirrors with memory, and an auto-dimming driver's side feature. Inside the MKZ Hybrid, you'll find features such as dual-zone automatic temperature control, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, a push-button shift transmission, remote start system, and a universal garage door opener. Driver assistance features that come standard are adaptive cruise control with a stop-and-go feature, lane keep assist, and auto headlights.
The standard eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display makes its way into the Hybrid model and features Lincoln's SYNC 3 operating system, which we found to be easy to get accustomed to and use in general. This system features enhanced voice recognition, 911 Assist, AppLink, as well as SiriusXM with a six-month trial subscription, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Hybrid models also get some special feature upgrades such as a Lincoln premium sound system with AM/FM stereo, MP3 capability, and 11 speakers. Hybrid cars also get two smart-charging USB ports and a SmartGauge with an EcoGuide instrument cluster and dual 4.2-inch LCD screens with an EcoSelect button on the center stack. The sound system performs well and sounds best when playing the early 2000s EDM classic Sandstorm by Darude.
The Lincoln MKZ range of cars has proven to be quite reliable, with only one recall being issued in the last three years for a faulty steering wheel that could become detached while driving. Other than that, the MKZ should offer thousands of trouble-free miles. Lincoln covers the MKZ Hybrid with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, as well as an eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid component warranty.
The NHTSA has put the 2020 MKZ through its paces and awarded it a full five out of five stars on its rating scale. The IIHS, on the other hand, has only tested a 2019 model, which excludes the now standard lane keep assist. The IIHS was pleased with its performance in most categories, but the MKZ failed to impress when it came to its headlights. Standard safety features include eight airbags, and the active driver assistance suite is made up of adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.
The MKZ Hybrid has a few tricks up its sleeve, especially in terms of comfort and standard features, which is exactly what buyers in this class are looking for. Forget about razor-sharp handling and a premium luxury interior, because you won't find it in the MKZ. Instead, you get a comfortable ride and a refined driving experience, all while being seated in a comfortable and well-specced interior. Sure, there are some cheaper materials in use here, but the overall product is well rounded. The powertrain won't blow you away, but that's not the point; drive it with a tender foot, and you'll get brilliant gas mileage out of this 3,800-pound sedan. Some negatives are the fact that the MKZ Hybrid loses a large chunk of its trunk space to the hybrid battery system, and composure is lost when driving at the edge. Overall the MKZ is an economic luxo-barge that will be loved by lethargic eco-warriors nation-wide.
To get behind the wheel of a 2020 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, you'll have to fork over $42,500, which doesn't include tax, registration, a destination fee of $995, and an acquisition fee of $645. The MKZ is closely priced to the uber-comfortable Lexus ES Hybrid, which starts at $41,760, but the Ford Fusion steals the show here, with a base price of only $28,000, and topping out at $34,595 for the Hybrid Titanium FWD. It is worth noting that the 2019 MKZ Hybrid goes for only $35,995, and offers more or less the exact same package.
Since there is only one model on offer for the Hybrid version of the MKZ, you don't really have much of an option, unless you look at the turbocharged 2.0-liter and monstrous twin-turbo V6 model. The good news is that all MKZ Hybrid models come in Reserve trim spec, which means you get an additional four 12V power points, a premium sound system with 11 speakers, as well as soft-touch seats and Sonata Spin aluminum accents on the instrument and door-trim panels. If the Reserve trim isn't enough, and you would like even more features and personalization, Lincoln offers a convenience package that adds a power-tilt telescoping steering column with built-in memory, as well as infotainment upgrades in the form of an integrated navigation system with pinch-to-zoom functionality, as well as HD Radio and integrated SiriusXM Traffic and
The Lexus ES Hybrid, which is basically a Toyota Avalon Hybrid in fancy dress, is one of the best all-rounders in this group and will outclass the MKZ in a number of key areas. Starting with the drivetrain, the ES gets its power from a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder gas engine, which is mated to a high-output, permanent-magnet, electric-drive motor with EV mode which channels power to the front wheels via a CVT auto transmission. Total power output is 215 hp and 153 lb-ft, which is significantly more than what you get in the Lincoln, and you can feel it out in the real world. The ES Hybrid will return an astonishing 43/44/44 mpg city/highway/combined, marginally beating out the MKZ. The interior of the ES is a lovely place to sit in, and offers more space in general, especially in the back where passengers get 39.2 inches of legroom. The Lexus also features more standard driver assistance features and will be the more dynamically capable car on the road. Starting at $41,760, our money would go to Lexus.
Competition is surprisingly stiff in this segment, with competitors such as the Honda Accord Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid offering excellent value for money, but an often overlooked option is the Ford Fusion Hybrid, a handsome car that is more than capable of taking the fight to the class-leaders. Powered by a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder and an electric motor, the Fusion Hybrid produces all of 188 hp, which it sends to the front wheels via a CVT transmission, so basically the exact same setup as the MKZ. Similarly, the Ford Fusion Hybrid will return an EPA estimated 43/41/42 mpg city/highway/combined. What separates the Ford from the Lincoln is the way the Fusion manages to balance a comfortable ride with excellent dynamics, which adds a sense of fun to the overall driving experience. The Fusion offers a plush interior, and we're massive fans of the Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system. As with the MKZ, the Fusion suffers from a smallish trunk, and headroom gets slightly tight in the rear, especially for taller passengers. The Fusion's biggest party trick is its starting price of only $28,000, which is a bargain compared to the starting price of $42,500 of the Lincoln. If you don't need as premium an experience, get the Ford.
Check out some informative Lincoln MKZ Hybrid video reviews below.