2015 Lincoln MKZ hybrid Black Label
2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Black Label, base price: $46,500. Technology package: $2495. Multi-contour seats: $595. Full-length sliding glass roof: $2995. THX sound system: $995. Chroma Flame metallic red paint: $1750. Grand total: $55,330.
Yep, 55 grand.
Why lead this review with a price breakdown? Because it underscores the point we’ve made about the MKZ all along, which is that it doesn’t offer a whole lot more than the Ford Fusion with which it shared its mechanicals—all but one of the powertrains and even the infotainment setups are identical—yet it is far more expensive. Indeed, this particular MKZ is nearly as expensive as possible, which makes its shortcomings stand out even more.
Particularly egregious is something endemic to all MKZ hybrids, regardless of price: the sound of the Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder/CVT combo, which drones miserably under acceleration. Fortunately this isn’t all the time, and we took great pains to drive gingerly and succeeded in keeping the hybrid in its near-silent, full-electric mode for 41.4 percent of the miles we spent in it, according to the car’s calculator. Still, we averaged a ho-hum-for-a-hybrid 31 mpg, nowhere near the EPA’s 40-mpg combined rating, which was itself revised downward from the overly optimistic 45 mpg stated when the car was introduced for 2013.
As a luxury car, the Black Label model we tested is a mixed bag. Like all MKZs, this test car is very pretty—perhaps its strongest selling point versus the cheaper Fusion—and has a ride that’s creamier than a bowl of warm pudding. The Black Label’s material upgrades, which include a black microsuede headliner, leather-topped dash and door panels, and black-stained wood, are worthy of a Mercedes-Benz. But in our car those niceties contrasted starkly with ill-fitting dash-to-door junctions, a warped rubber liner in the lower center console, and grainy hard plastics behind the headrests and in the cup holders.
At the end of the day, it’s going to take more than Venetian leather and the numerous spiffs of Black Label ownership (see below) to make the MKZ better. A refreshed MKZ is expected next year as a 2017 model, and it will adopt Continental-esque styling cues, although that will address the aspect of the MKZ that needs the least help. Here’s hoping Lincoln puts just as much work into the interior and powertrain.