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No Gas Pains

The 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

No gas pains, but your bladder may suffer on long trips from the lack of pit stops needed while driving the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Ford is advertising 700 city miles to a tank of gas. Now I see the point they’re trying to make: You could probably drive the MKZ for weeks without ever stopping for gas. I think that would be a more effective advertising point…something more people would relate to than 700 city miles. (Who’d ever drive 700 city miles nonstop?) EPA-wise, that works out to 41/36 miles per gallon city/highway. Not bad at all for a mid-sized luxury sedan. Not that many years ago it would have been unthinkable for a car wearing the Lincoln badge.

The MKZ shares a hybrid system with the Ford Fusion. The gasoline engine and electric motor combine for 191 horsepower to drive the front wheels. A computerized system, which I don’t even pretend to understand, decides when the MKZ operates in gasoline or electric mode. From a stop it can operate in electric-only mode up to 47 miles per hour (for two miles or so)—which Ford is happy to point out compares favorably with what it considers its closest rival, the Lexus HS 250h, which switches to petrol power after passing 25 miles per hour.

One worry some prospective owners of a hybrid vehicle have is the battery pack. How long will it last? The Lincoln (along with other hybrids) offers an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on hybrid-specific components on the MKZ. Given the average length of time most people keep a car, it shouldn’t be an issue. Buying a used one down the road might be a different story.

Lincoln has done something a bit differently from other manufacturers when it comes to pricing their hybrid: The price is the same for both the regular gasoline-only-powered MKZ and the hybrid. The starting list price is $34,645. And that includes heated power mirrors, heated and cooled front seats with an electric 10-way memory seat on the driver’s side, dual-zone electronic climate control, Ford’s Easy Fuel capless fuel filler, halogen headlamps, a reverse sensing system, and of course a bunch of other stuff one would expect to find on a Lincoln. You can get the whole lowdown by going to the website listed at the end of this column. And of course, there’s even more you can specify in the way of extra-cost optional equipment to make your car even more “Lincolnesque.” The Big Daddy of options is—what else—the “Ultimate Package,” which includes a voice-activated navigation system—I guess for those “Where the hell are we?” moments.Also: adaptive headlamps (these are the ones which turn with the steering wheels, lighting your way around a corner as you steer into it); power moonroof; THX II certified audio system; rain-sensing windshield wipers; ambient lighting; rear-view camera; blind-spot information system; and 17-inch chromed wheels—all for another $5,700. Some of this stuff can be ordered separately. There are also different interior options including, if you’re in an exceptionally generous mood, a set of all-weather floormats for just $75. A remote starter, which I’m surprised isn’t standard equipment on a car selling for $35,000, will set you back $313, while a set of solid gold (I’m kidding) mudflaps are a mere $90.

And what would a hybrid be without a futuristic, distracting, zoomy-looking instrument panel? Lincoln calls its version the SmartGauge with EcoGuide (their spacing, not mine). Its designers have decided to help you grow a garden of apple blossoms as you achieve maximum fuel efficiency. All very colorful. Especially at night.

If you’re looking for a hybrid which combines good mileage with comfort and style, the MKZ may be right up your alley. Don’t forget that when its technological twin, the Ford Fusion, was introduced last year, it was named car-of-the-year. You can take that to the bank. And use hardly any gas getting there.

More info at:

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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