Lincoln has a vast, proud history – but of late, it seems to have devolved into an afterthought brand, playing second fiddle to Ford’s mainstream Ford-badged models in much the same way Mazda did. Lincolns are poised as fancier models, but the reality is, they’re re-clothed Ford’s with a higher price tag. The same can be said of the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – which beneath the skin shared the same platform as the Ford Fusion. More so than that, it shares the same running gear and same technology – with the key differentiation being styling, a lightly up-market interior, and price.
Inside, the MKZ Hybrid is little more than a Ford Fusion – it’s dressed up in more luxury, at least visually, though the material quality still lacks that of upper market rivals. There are hard plastics, creaky panels, and trim pieces that don’t quite line up. But it now features Ford’s Sync 3 instead of the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system. It’s responsive, quick, and a revelation compared to the old system.
It’s best to avoid the optional 19-inch alloy wheels on the MKZ, as the firm suspension already treads a fine line between being sporty and brittle. It’s firmer than most in the luxury segment, though this has benefits on long distance journeys as occupants won’t get car-sick too easily. Over broken pavements, there’s a couple of thunks and bumps, but nothing too serious, and there’s decent ride composure. The handling is a little wayward at times – the suspension supports keeps the car relatively flat, but it’s not exactly a sporting drive dripping with driver engagement.
The steering is generally quite light and indirect, though Sport mode adds weight to it. However additional weighting on the electronic power assisted setup does little to add feel, and the front end feels vague, particularly in terms of front end grip and direction.
The hybrid version of the MKZ features a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle inline-4 under the hood, but it’s paired to a magnetically driven electric motor and a 1.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The combined system outputs of 188 horsepower, and are sent solely to the front wheels via an eCVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). The hybrid drivetrain assists the MKZ Hybrid in achieving EPA rated consumption figures of 41 MPG in the city, 38 MPG on the highway, and 40 MPG on a combined cycle.
As an up-market model, the MKZ Hybrid features decent standard equipment. Features include reverse park sensors, dual-zone climate control, remote start, cruise control, active noise control, and 10-way power front seats with heating. Packages and options are limited; a Magnetic Appearance Package and aluminum trim bits are available. Safety features include ABS brakes, traction control, a full suite of seatbelts, rear camera, and emergency brake assist. The Lincoln MKZ was rated as an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2017, and scored five out of an available five stars in NHTSA crash testing.
Ford has left Lincoln out in the cold. The MKZ Hybrid lacks the luxury of its rivals, but costs a good deal more than the Ford Fusion on which it’s based. Quite frankly, you’re only really getting exclusivity, so you’d be better off saving the money and spending it on a Ford Fusion Hybrid SE instead.