You almost wouldn't know to look at the hybrid version of Lincoln's new MKZ Sedan. Just one tiny badge hints at the power train.
A bigger clue comes when you open the hood - Ford's gas-electric hybrid system. Even though it's a pretty large car, the combination of the electric motor and two liter gasoline engine combine to deliver an EPA rating of 45 MPG city and highway.
The MKZ hybrid has a couple of strong suits, for sure. It gets the same handsome styling as the regular model, and you don't pay any more than you do for the non-hybrid. The base prices are exactly the same.
But there is at least one downside - when the gas engine does kick in, it's noisy. Even inside the car with the air conditioner going.
It's also got some competition - Infiniti's M Sedan, for example.
And Lexus now offers a hybrid version of its ES Sedan. They've been offering hybrid models for years, and the ES has been a mainstay in their line from the beginning.
So it was only natural that an ES Hybrid would come along. And if you drive it back-to-back with the Lincoln, you'll notice that the Lexus has the quieter engine.
Lincoln likes to point out that their MKZ hybrid costs less and has a higher MPG rating. Then again, Ford's taken some heat lately for its hybrids not getting their claimed fuel economy in real world driving.
When hybrid cars first started out they were specialized, specific models that only came as hybrids. But nowadays, we find the hybrid option in more models. And now and into the future you be might be ordering up your new car and say 'I want the leather interior, the navigation, give me the upgraded sound system, oh yeah, and make it a hybrid while you're at it.'"
And that's going to be especially true with luxury cars. Lincoln has ramped up production of the MKZ hybrid to keep up with better-than-expected demand. As buyers of premium cars are increasingly concerned about fuel consumption and emissions, hybrids are on more wish lists when it comes time to buy.
So next time you see a new Lincoln, Infiniti, Lexus, or other upscale sedan on the road, it might just have a hybrid system inside, as hybrid and luxury increasingly go hand-in-hand.