2020 Lincoln MKZ vs. 2020 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/10

The rear seatbelts optional on the MKZ inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

The MKZ offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

To help make backing safer, the MKZ’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The MKZ’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the MKZ and the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems and rearview cameras.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the MKZ the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 204 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The MKZ comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Lincoln’s powertrain warranty covers the MKZ 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Honda covers the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

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The MKZ has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the car’s engine.

The battery on the MKZ is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the MKZ’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lincoln vehicles are better in initial quality than Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lincoln fifth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 16th, below the industry average.

Engine

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The MKZ’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 33 more horsepower (245 vs. 212) than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s 1.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid. The MKZ’s optional 3.0 turbo V6 produces 138 more horsepower (350 vs. 212) than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s 1.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid. The MKZ’s optional 3.0 turbo V6 produces 188 more horsepower (400 vs. 212) than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s 1.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Lincoln MKZ turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid:

MKZ

Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

Zero to 30 MPH

3 sec

3.5 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.4 sec

8.3 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.6 sec

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.8 sec

16.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.2 MPH

86 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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The MKZ Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid (14 vs. 7 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The MKZ AWD’s standard fuel tank has 11 gallons more fuel capacity than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid (18 vs. 7 gallons).

The MKZ has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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The MKZ stops much shorter than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid:

MKZ

Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

60 to 0 MPH

124 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

133 feet

145 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the MKZ has larger tires than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid (245/45R18 vs. 235/45R18).

The MKZ’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the MKZ offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

The MKZ has a standard space-saver spare (not available on Hybrid) so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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The MKZ has a standard driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The MKZ has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The MKZ’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the MKZ’s wheelbase is 3.9 inches longer than on the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid (112.2 inches vs. 108.3 inches).

The MKZ Premiere AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid Touring pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The MKZ Premiere AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid Touring (27.3 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 27.9 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

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The Lincoln MKZ may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 300 pounds less than the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.

The front grille of the MKZ Hybrid uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The MKZ uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The MKZ has 2.1 inches more front legroom and .8 inches more rear legroom than the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.

Cargo Capacity

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To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the MKZ’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the MKZ. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the MKZ offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Towing

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The MKZ has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has no towing capacity.

The MKZ 3.0 Turbo/Hybrid (except 2.0 Turbo) can be flat towed on all four wheels (dinghy towed), allowing recreational vehicle owners to bring it with them on the road. When they reach their destination, the MKZ can be unhitched and driven around locally. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid can’t be towed flat on the ground.

Servicing Ease

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The MKZ uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lincoln service is better than Honda. J.D. Power ranks Lincoln 7th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 50% lower rating, Honda is ranked 23rd.

Ergonomics

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The MKZ’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the MKZ and the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the MKZ is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the MKZ’s exterior PIN entry system. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the MKZ’s exterior PIN entry system. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

The MKZ’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the MKZ detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the MKZ has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer cornering lights.

A power rear sunshade is standard in the MKZ Reserve to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The MKZ’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the MKZ Reserve keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the MKZ Reserve’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The MKZ Reserve offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.

The MKZ offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The MKZ Reserve’s Active Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/10

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lincoln MKZ and the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Lincoln MKZ outsold the Honda Clarity by 52% during 2019.

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