The Lincoln MKZ hybrid has been certified to get 45 miles per gallon, Ford announced today.
That puts the hybrid version of the Lincoln mid-size sedan at the head of the pack when it comes to luxury vehicles. The MKZ is 5 mpg better in city driving and 6 mpg better on the highway than the Lexus ES 300h -- considered the main competitor -- and substantially better than the Infiniti M35h and BMW ActiveHybrid 3.
Ford hopes the distinction will help restore the Lincoln brand to its former dominance in the U.S. market. The MKZ is the first of seven new or refreshed models from Lincoln by 2014 and the first of four all-new vehicles over the next four years. The brand has floundered and is working to regain an identity.
Good mileage "is a key element to continue our story of where we are going with Lincoln," said Kate Pearce, Lincoln marketing manager.
The $36,800 MKZ, which goes on sale later this year, shares its underpinnings with the 2013 Ford Fusion and Fusion hybrid but the styling and signature features differ.
Lincoln priced the MKZ hybrid the same as the gasoline engine version instead of charging a premium of a few thousand dollars more to help cover the cost of the additional technology, motors and batteries. The same strategy was used with the outgoing MKZ and it helped boost hybrid sales.
"With the first MKZ hybrid in 2010 we found the combination of fuel efficiency of 41 mpg, which was the best at the time, and no premium pricing really did break through," Pearce said. "Hybrid sales exceeded our expectations."
One in four sales of the outgoing MKZ was a hybrid and 72% of the car's sales were conquests from other brands.
Pearce expects strong success with the 2013 model that comes with three powertrain choices: a 3.7-liter V6, a 2-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine or the hybrid. The previous MKZ was offered with a 3.5-liter V6 or the hybrid -- no EcoBoost option.
All three engine choices will be available at launch, Pearce said, and hybrid owners can choose the same features available on the other models.
"The all-new MKZ Hybrid proves that thoughtful customers who prioritize fuel economy and reducing emissions do not need to compromise on luxury, driving quality or advanced technology," Jim Farley, head of global marketing, sales and service, said in a statement.
"MKZ is our strongest proof yet on what the reinvented Lincoln stands for -- beautiful vehicles with compelling and warm experiences that create a clear alternative in today's increasingly competitive luxury marketplace," Farley said.
The car's features include a continuously controlled damping adjustable suspension, push button transmission and a glass roof.
Lincoln has been a North America brand but Ford announced earlier this year plans to start selling the luxury brand in China in the second half of 2014.
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