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Lincoln tops luxury-sedan mileage.

Byline: Ann M. Job

2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid FWD

BASE PRICE: $35,190 PRICE AS TESTED: $45,800

TYPE: Front-engine, front-wheel drive, five-passenger, midsize, gasoline-electric hybrid sedan

ENGINE: 2-liter, double overhead cam, Atkinson cycle, inline four cylinder with iVCT mated to 88-kilowatt electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack

MILEAGE: 45 mpg (city), 45 mpg (highway) LENGTH: 194.1 inches

WHEELBASE: 112.2 inches CURB WEIGHT: 3,828 pounds

BUILT AT: Hermosillo, Mexico DESTINATION CHARGE: $895

Despite the common perception that Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus, are best in fuel economy, it is the gasoline-electric hybrid version of Lincoln's 2014 MKZ that ranks as the top luxury car in fuel mileage.

The 2014 MKZ Hybrid, which is rated by the federal government at 45 mpg in both city and highway travel, also has a quiet interior, comfortable ride, an odd, push-button gear shifter, and a surprising base retail price, including destination charge, of $36,085. That is the lowest base retail price of any gas-electric hybrid luxury sedan sold in the United States. It's also just $1,000 more than the $35,086 price for a non-hybrid, turbo four-cylinder-powered, 2014 MKZ whose combined city/highway mileage rating is 42 percent less, or 26 mpg.

The base MKZ Hybrid midsize sedan, which earned five out of five stars in government crash tests, is well-equipped. Power comes from a 141-horsepower, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor capable of generating 88 kilowatts of electricity, so the maximum output from the hybrid system is 188 horses. A fuel-saving, continuously variable transmission, which a driver operates like an automatic, is the only tranny.

The MKZ Hybrid has the usual standard features as well as some not always found on competitors, including Sync voice and touchscreen control for ventilation and the audio system, active noise control for the interior, leather-trimmed seats, 10-way, power-adjustable and heated front seats, power and heated outside mirrors, 18-inch wheels and light-emitting diode headlamps and taillamps.

The base 2014 MKZ Hybrid does not include a rearview camera for drivers to see what is behind the car as they back up. To get this feature, buyers must upgrade to a package that adds $1,145 to the price.

Based on the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the MKZ Hybrid has a distinctive look that's an acquired taste to some, with its winged grille shape and thin, horizontal line of tail lamps. The MKZ is unique in other ways.

It is oh-so-silent during most starts. The engine stays off, but electric power that's generated onboard and stored in the lithium-ion battery pack is ready. So a car icon illuminated bright green in the instrument cluster tells the driver the MKZ is on and ready to go.

That's when the driver has to forget about using a gear shift lever.

Instead, the MKZ Hybrid has a vertical line of buttons showing ''P'' for park, ''R'' for reverse, etc. on the side of the center stack in the dashboard.

An MKZ Hybrid driver must press the brake pedal and press one of the buttons to ''shift'' into gear.

It takes some getting used to, but it worked fine in the test car.

The MKZ Hybrid offered a stable ride and had decent power to merge into traffic and keep abreast of others in city traffic and on country roads.
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Author:Job, Ann M.
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 31, 2014
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