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Lincoln's 2014 MKZ Hybrid retains its luxury sedan heritage

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Former Ford/Lincoln CEO Alan Mulally was contemplating doing away with the long-time Lincoln luxury brand. It’s good he didn’t because the 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is true to its luxury sedan heritage.

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The MKZ is one classy hybrid sedan. From its smooth, suave lines and swept back six-slat horizontal grille and headlamp assemblies, the front end gives the car an intriguing Darth Vader appearance and a look that’s not seen on any sedan, many of which resemble each other.

But that’s not the entire story. Lincoln designers did a nice job on the interior. Starting with the dash that is of low profile allowing excellent frontal visibility and a single gauge for speedometer and tachometer.

Slip into the soft and comfy front leather bucket seats and you’ll notice there’s minimal lateral support for those who don’t like overly confining seats. The back seat, with inflatable seatbelts, can handle three adults with easy ingress and ingress thanks to wide opening doors. The effect is almost Lincoln Town Car-like, the limo-like sedan Ford killed off some time ago.

Lincoln sort of copied Cadillac’s swiping touch controls for audio volume and fan. Their MyLincolnTouch, like Ford’s same system, is questionable. HVAC operations require touching icons on the vertical stack that sometimes needed several presses to register.

One immediately noticeable feature in the cabin is the vertical array of five push buttons for the cars’ CVT transmission. They’re reminiscent of Dodge and Plymouth’s of the 60s, which were quick shifters back then especially the heavy duty ones that were coupled to a potent HEMI V8 engine. The buttons are neat and different and seem better than Chrysler’s rotary dial selector in some of their new cars and Ram trucks. The CVT hooks up to a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 2.0L Atkinson-Cycle four cylinder gasoline engine that by itself, produces 141-hp and 129 lb/ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Combining it with the electric motor and 1.4kWh Lithium-ion battery pack gives a total of 188 horsepower.

The hybrid system and battery pack is recharged by regenerative braking plus a start/stop mode at stoplights and when the car is idling. This allows the car to be driven in electric mode for short periods up to 47 mph.

Acceleration from a standing stop exhibits a linear application of power that is peppy and if on electric power, quiet. There’s no lack of power but the cars’ 3,911-pound curb weight is noticeable. If you need more zoom, MKZ is also offered with a V6 engine and 6-speed auto trans.

Ride and handling are impressive. As expected from a Lincoln product, the ride is smooth and quiet on Michelin 18-inch tires. MKZ’s suspension absorbs most road imperfections, which can be tailored via Lincoln’s Drive Control that allows driver selection modes of Normal, Comfort and Sport. The system adjusts the suspension, electric power steering and throttle control to the driver’s preference.

Handling too is good in tight turns with some body lean. But with a tight turning radius, the MKZ parks easily.

Back in the trunk, Lincoln rates it at a meager 11.1 cubic feet. That’s because of the thick heavy-duty hinges that require massive cover pods, plus that’s where the hybrid battery is stowed, which creates a two-tier effect. As is, one large roll-a-long can be stowed or a golf bag. This can be rectified somewhat by folding the 60/40 rear seatbacks that open up some extra length but no extra width or height.

As a premium luxury car the MKZ Hybrid, like all comparable hybrids, commands a premium price. Add options and the MKZ gets pricey. Carrying a base price of $36,150 this reasonable price escalates accordingly when adding package 202A consisting of rearview camera, reverse sensing system, cross traffic alert and nav system ($3,105). Add platinum paint ($585), Technology Package with Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise and Lane Keeping system ($2,250), rear inflatable seatbelts ($195) and delivery of $895 and this luxury cruiser bottom lines at $43,420.

Thus far we haven’t mentioned that the MKZ is the kissing cousin of Ford’s Fusion Hybrid that sells for about $5K less. The choice is yours.

Last but not least, the MKZ received impressive government safety ratings of five stars for overall safety; five for frontal driver crash, four for passenger; three for side front seat crash, five for rear seat crash; and four for rollover.

If you have been a Lincoln fan for some time, the MKZ either in standard or hybrid form, is for you.

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