You wouldn't call either Lincoln MKZ exciting, but the integration of the hybrid system makes for seamless performance, and the V-6 version acquits itself decently in straight-line acceleration, though it's pretty conservative in the way it handles.
The base powertrain in the 2012 MKZ is Ford's mid-size V-6, displacing 3.5 liters and putting out 263 horsepower. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, and usually sends power to the front wheels, though there's an option for all-wheel drive. Ford says it's capable of moving the MKZ to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, competitive numbers if not the source of BMW-style elation. The six-speed automatic extracts power without raising a lot of extraneous engine noise. Its sport-shift mode gives drivers some but not total control over the way the transmission chooses its gears.
All versions are tuned for quiet, stress-free driving instead of brisk responsiveness, especially the all-wheel-drive versions, which add a few hundred pounds to the curb weight. Lincoln does offer a sport suspension option with a tighter feel and 18-inch wheels, which brings it closer to the pert handling of its cousin, the Ford Fusion.
The MKZ Hybrid is where most shoppers will gravitate. The running gear's virtually unchanged from the Fusion Hybrid: it combines a 155-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder running an Atkinson cycle, electric motors and a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack in back. All told, the MKZ Hybrid has reasonably brisk performance to 60 mph in the 8-second range--a second off the V-6 car's performance, but the Hybrid is torquey around town, thanks to its battery power. Fuel economy of 41/36 mpg, which Ford says bests the Lexus HS 250h by 6 miles per gallon. The exceptional city fuel economy is in part due to the MKZ Hybrid's higher-speed EV mode--it can run on electric power alone up to 47 mph, while the Lexus is EV-only up to only 25 mph.