2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Hybrid Review - Makes Me Want A Fusion

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
2017 lincoln mkz reserve hybrid review makes me want a fusion

With your left hand’s thumb, scroll through the steering wheel-mounted controls and select Settings. Move up to Driver Assist. Proceed to Drive Control. Then select Comfort.

Now your 2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Hybrid is a good ol’ fashioned barge of an American car, with enough rear end float to make pregnant women seasick. Firm? Far from it. That dip in the pavement half a mile ago is still causing the rear occupants’ bellies to teeter-totter as the MKZ attempts to locate its equilibrium.

Pair this menu selection with a prod of the Eco button to the right of the central touchscreen and you now have a modern Lincoln that mostly ignores throttle input, steers with remarkable lightness, and turns potholes into pillows. That sounds like the perfect Lincoln for a customer base that has all but gone extinct.

Fortunately, the refreshed MKZ Hybrid does not need to be driven in Comfort/Eco mode. In fact, the 2017 MKZ is at its best when, as is often the case, Lincoln allows the MKZ to manifest its deep-seated Ford Fusion roots.

So why not buy a Ford Fusion instead?

There are a few good reasons. Pre-refresh, the second-generation MKZ (initially known as the Zephyr in first-gen form) was easily criticized for an interior that bore few signs of upmarket intention aside from unnecessarily complicated controls. In terms of the latter, Lincoln has remedied that problem with an array of straightforward buttons for climate controls and Ford’s sensible, if not awe-inspiring, SYNC3. (You’ll still need to delve into deep menus with steering wheel controls for Drive Control and advanced safety system settings, however.)

As for the former complaint, material quality, particularly across the centre console, is much improved. Gone is the previous car’s matte grey, scratch-fantastic plastic. There are soft bits and metal pieces in all the right places. (Just don’t expect Lexus-levels of build quality: in hard right turns, the centre console’s cupholder cover in our MKZ Hybrid tester would flip open.)


For those willing to pay far more than they would or could on a Fusion, the MKZ can also be optioned up as a genuinely sumptuous car.

On top of the 2017 MKZ Hybrid’s U.S. market $35,935 base price, spend another $4,500 for Reserve trim, $4,400 for a luxury package featuring a 20-speaker Revel audio system, $2,395 on a technology package filled with active safety kit, $2,995 for a vast panoramic glass roof, $595 for special 19-inch wheels, and $595 on hugely adjustable multi-contour massaging seats.

In this case, the $50,820 2017 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is by no means merely a Ford Fusion by any other name.

Yet in an age of spectacularly equipped Kia Sportages, high-tech features and abundant levels of active safety technology are no longer enough to provide convincing arguments for luxury status.


Even under part throttle, the 2017 MKZ Hybrid’s 2.0-liter is often a raucous partner. Lincoln says the brand now majors on Quiet Luxury, and that may be true in other MKZs or in the new Continental, but quiet this hybrid is not.

Accelerating uphill on a highway on-ramp, the MKZ Hybrid doesn’t have to feel underpowered, but your right foot instinctively holds back to avoid drumming up intrusive droning. If carpool duty means there are Lexus ES300h owners in the back seat of your MKZ, you’ll be embarrassed.

There are hybrid dividends, of course. Our first week with a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid in March 2014 resulted in fuel economy readings 45 miles per gallon. With air conditioning cranked this week, the 2017 MKZ achieved an impressive 39 mpg. Remember, Lincoln doesn’t ask hybrid buyers to pay more. The 2.0-liter gas-only turbo is marketed with the same $35,935 base price.

Aside from the sometimes noisy powertrain, there are other niggling issues that cause the MKZ to feel insufficiently Lincoln-ized. The rear seat is by no means expansive, rear ingress is awkward, and the central hump is intrusive. All of that extra hybrid gear restricts trunk volume by 28 percent compared with the regular MKZ. The cooled seats positively roar when in use. Lincoln’s robotic massage therapist isn’t nearly as good at his job as the active bolster designer. Ford’s version of lane keeping assist lacks intelligence but is full of enthusiasm, regardless of its strength setting. Lincoln’s center-stack-mounted “shifter” tries hard to be different but manages to annoy and stand out because of cheap texture and operation. The Revel audio system sounds decidedly upmarket but doesn’t produce a great deal of volume.

And why is that grille so sad?


But there are strong Fusion undertones, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. Outside of Comfort and Eco modes and away from the Sport mode’s periodic harsh impacts, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ reminds me just how full of Euro Ford flair the Fusion truly is. Lively, nicely weighted steering mixes with a chassis that never tries hard to be sporty: it’s just balanced and communicative and capable of more than you’re likely to ever ask.

It would be easy for an auto writer, one who wouldn’t dream of spending $50,820 on a midsize sedan that makes me look older than my father, to draw attention to the inherent value of the MKZ’s Ford Fusion foundation. But that is not what’s going on here. I have no problem appreciating the merits of sedans priced far higher than this MKZ, whether they’re based on mainstream transportation or share nothing but windshield wipers with proletarian automobiles.

The 2017 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid just doesn’t make a great $50,820 car — equipment upgrades and copious chrome don’t hide the fact that further fine-tuning is required to make the MKZ a viable high-dollar car.

Many, perhaps all, of the MKZ’s faults would nevertheless be easily overlooked at $37,895, the price at which a 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid Platinum is equipped, in large part, like this very MKZ Hybrid.

[Images: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Aug 12, 2016

    I think the front end design looked better on the old car than this new version. Was classy and flowed well. This looks more tacked on and busy. But then when the MKZ first arrived I didn't like the style at all. Finally I am kinda diggin it and then they change the front end again.

  • Dreadnought Dreadnought on Aug 13, 2016

    Drove the 2017 2.0 T AWD version of this last week (twice). Been shopping it-I'm coming out of a 5-series (F10) lease that ended a year ago and driving my beater truck around in the interim. Also drove the 2016 version twice (once at a Lincoln event at a car show). I'd say this review is pretty accurate-though I definitely didn't think the "comfort" setting was anywhere near as floaty as Mr. Cain did. It never reminded me of a luxo-barge no matter what setting it was in. It was a bit softer but not crazy soft, even in "comfort". I agree about the about the center console, and the feel of the shifter buttons. That is a place where Lincoln should've invested a bit more money that would've have paid dividends. With the emphasis Lincoln places on the push button shifter you would think they would put more effort into making it feel higher quality, and with the console area opened up so much with the absence of the shifter-make that higher quality as well. The look, and to a lesser extent, the feel of the 2017 version's console is somewhat improved, but it still seems somewhat cheap, and gives one a bad impression of the car. The rest of the interior actually seems pretty high quality-but the console is an area that you really notice-especially if you're at a car show playing with the storage compartments and stuff-it brings down the whole interior. If they really had to cut costs somewhere in the interior-the console was not the place to do it. I think the reviewer's overall impression of the chassis is pretty spot on. I will say that the steering weighting and feel, as well as the overall handling and ride of the 2017 seemed better than the 2016 I drove earlier-not sure why though. Were there any updates to steering and/or suspension for 2017? I haven't driven the Fusion. I'll admit the Fusion Platinum seems like a better value proposition vs. the Lincoln. I may check it out.

  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: https://robbreport.com/motors/cars/tesla-model-y-worlds-best-selling-vehicle-1234848318/and any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.