God didn’t intend Lincolns to have tight trunks

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Lincoln-MKZ-HybridAs the first new product of the rebranded “Lincoln Motor Company,” the MKZ sedan has taken plenty of flak since its botched 2013 introduction, during which Ford had to delay the car’s launch by nearly half a year. It deserves nearly every lobbed bowling ball chucked at it. I’ll skip to the MKZ’s most nagging point: The impossible trunk.

First things first. Ford — sorry, the Lincoln Motor Company — deserves praise for selling a gas-electric hybrid model for the exact same price ($36,085) as the standard model. It’s not as risky as it might seem, given that Ford is sharing the costs among two other models, the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max. But it’s a move no one else has made.

Unfortunately, the real compromise is found when popping the trunk. Not only does the 1.4-kWh lithium-ion battery eat away 4.4 cubic feet of space, it does so in the most incredibly perplexing fashion so that no large suitcases can fit inside. I should have taken a photo when I picked up my wife’s friend, her friend’s mom and their luggage for a ride to Baltimore Washington International a few weeks back, but it was freezing and I was so angry at stacking their bigger bags beside them in the back seat that I drove away in silence. Really. The hybrid system works so well that it’s easy to go full-electric at almost any speed, including on the highway.

But what is a big Lincoln without a big trunk? The Town Car’s trunk can fit three people — it’s a mobster car, after all — without much trouble. It’s why those black sedans are the most sought-after rides leaving the airport, because they’ll swallow every last rolly and never intrude on the rear seat’s acres of space. In the MKZ Hybrid, the trunk floor is shaped like a staircase, with a raised parcel shelf that splits the space in half. The back half blocks enough of the trunk’s height so that it’s unusable for luggage. The front half blocks enough of the trunk’s length so that it’s unusable for luggage. Then there’s a lumpy bulge to the left that impedes some of whatever you can get in there. Lots of big sedans and other hybrid models have some surprisingly small trunks, but none so daft as the caboose of the MKZ Hybrid.

Here’s a photo of it taken by Motor Trend:


Ford’s other hybrids and electric cars do the same thing. Because Ford hasn’t designed an electric car from the outset — like Nissan or Tesla, for example — they don’t have any spare space to put these large battery packs but the cargo areas. In a Focus Electric, a car that already has a limited cargo hold, this isn’t a big deal. In a car that’s supposed to compete against Audis and Acuras, this is an everyday frustration.

The hybrid system works like a dream. It’s quiet and transparent, and the four-cylinder engine only shows its gruff voice when the throttle is buried. In the city in cold weather, along with some highway driving, I averaged 27.6 mpg. Not a bad number for a large, heavy four-door with cushy brown leather seats. But the MKZ Hybrid is doomed. Besides the softer leather, the panoramic moonroof and a few other non-Ford items, the MKZ doesn’t feel like a luxury car. It feels like it was held back so it wouldn’t get too expensive. There’s no leather on the dash. The more expensive details you’d find on the head-turning Cadillac CTS — like a head-up display, for example — aren’t here, either. The driving modes, which don’t really do anything on the hybrid trim, are buried in submenus on the digital dash. The MKZ simply doesn’t look like or act like the stunning car it’s trying to be, despite its generally solid, high-quality construction. That’s not enough for Lincoln, especially the trunk.

Clifford Atiyeh

Clifford Atiyeh

Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Based in Connecticut, he writes for BestRide, Car and Driver, The Boston Globe and other publications.