There will come a time, perhaps sooner than later, when one can no longer walk into an automotive dealership and purchase a new car that runs entirely on gas. As we continue to drain the oil from Mother Earth to fuel our appetite for all things motoring, the supply, according to many, is dwindling.
This means than one day we might look across a dark cemetery filled with automotive relics of the past. V8 powered machines that once belched smoke, rattled windows and prowled the highways of America searching for an open stretch of pavement; there to unleash the power of their gasoline engines. Carburetors that once drank octane like a sailor on shore leave are already only memories; soon the engines that run only on gas will join them.
The future however, may not be as dark as all that.
In the past few years hybrids have started to emerge on the automotive market; cars that use traditional, but small, gas engines in combination with electric motors and batteries. First came the Prius, slow uncomfortable and akin to driving a stagecoach. Despite this those who believe in saving the world, or think that any day the lights will go out, snapped up the Prius in surprising numbers. Soon those who wanted even the appearance of saving Mother Earth would be seen only in the shoebox on wheels otherwise known as the Prius. Sure the thought of getting nearly 50 miles per gallon is a happy one; but having to do so in the metal box they call the Prius is like going to the dentist knowing we have to get all our teeth pulled. We may have to do it, but it doesn’t mean we will like it.
Those of us who refused to buy in to such nonsense were left shaking our heads and wondering what the future held. Because no matter how we felt, the future is fast approaching and that future is led by a hybrid.
Well fear not fellow gas guzzlers, the manufacturers have heard our voices crying out in the wilderness; they know we yearn for something that actually has style, comfort and most importantly perhaps, will move across the road at something more than a snail’s pace.
We drove the Lexus 300h, the Toyota Avalon Hybrid and found that a hybrid can indeed be stylish, affordable and actually fun to drive. Now Lincoln has jumped on the hybrid train with the 2014 MKZ Hybrid, and boy are we glad they did.
The first glance at the MKZ hybrid we would live with for a week left us with one thought; this a pretty car. From the sleek sweptback grill to the lines running along the white platinum body, this car catches your eye.
We had driven an 2013 MKS, the MKZ’s larger more luxurious and more powerful cousin, so we knew not to expect the same kind of amenities. However, we were very impressed. The interior may not be as roomy as the MKS, but it is far from being cramped. Standard equipment includes a keyless ignition, leather upholstery, heated 10-way power front seats with power lumbar and driver memory settings. There is also a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Finally full power accessories that include the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen interface. Add to all that an 11-speaker sound system with CD player, auxiliary/USB/iPod input jacks and satellite radio that sounds great. We also had the panoramic glass roof with the integral sunroof which was opened nearly every day thanks to the mild Florida winter weather.
The touchscreen interface drew some criticism from other reviewers but we found it to be very easy to use and easy to navigate. Speaking of navigating on the road the MXZ Hybrid delivers performance that allows you to forget there is even an electric motor sharing space under the hood.
The 2014 Lincoln MKZ offers three engine options: A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the base engine, producing 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.
The optional 3.7-liter V6, produces 300 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque through the six-speed automatic and either front- or all-wheel drive.
The hybrid model we had combines a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor for 188 total hp. The hybrid is front-wheel-drive only and uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Like the other hybrids (with the exception of the Prius we were forced to endure), the MKZ Hybrid delivers performance that is more than adequate for everyday driving with enough power to get you out of a jam if called upon. The ride is smooth, the interior noise minimal and handling is great with the dampened suspension holding the road just fine.
The fuel mileage rated at 45 in city, highway and mixed conditions. However during our week, which included 60 mile one way highway trips to work at Daytona International Speedway for the NASCAR season opening Daytona 500, the mileage was closer to 47 and 48. This was a pleasant surprise given the great ride and comfortable interior.
At the end of the week our fuel costs were much less leaving a smile on our face and a bit of regret as we watched the Lincoln drive away. Ford and Lincoln have a hit on their hands, and if the future of motoring is to be hybrids fear not with cars like the MXZ Hybrid we will be just fine.
The 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
MSRP (as tested): $46,800
Engine (as tested): 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas; 88 kW electric motor
188 horsepower (combined engine and motor) @ 6,000 rpm; 141 (engine only)
129 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
EPA Est.: 45 city, 45 highway, 45 combined
MPG (As tested mixed conditions): 47
Wheelbase: 112.2 in
LOA: 194.1 in.
Overall width: 83.3 in.
Overall height: 58.2 in.
Seating capacity: 5
First row (maximum): 37.9 in.
Second row: 36.6 in.
First row: 44.3 in.
Second row: 37.0 in.
First row: 57.7 in.
Second row: 55.3 in.
First row: 55.1 in.
Second row: 53.8 in.
Curb weight: 3,828 lbs.
4 years 50,000 miles
Powertrain: 6 years 70,000 miles
Safety restraint system: 5 years 60,000 miles
Hybrid unique component: 8 years 100,000 miles