2009 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

As we start to head into the lazy sweltering days of summer, Death Valley becomes the perfect location for balmy weather testing — a must-have for everything from powertrain endurance testing to figuring out exactly how cold that A/C system gets. Thus, fertile ground for those of you looking to make a foray into car spy shooting. Take the above prototype caught by spy shooter and Jalopnik reader Dan Leathers. The shots show what may be a new but not entirely unexpected development out of Ford — a 2009 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. How did we gather it's a hybrid from just a glance at the shots? Well, it's a plausible explanation for why it'd be doing comparison testing with a Toyota Camry Hybrid.

While we already knew we'd see a hybrid version of the 2009 Ford Fusion — a fellow member of the threesome of Ford's CD3-platformed mid-size econoboxes — we didn't know anything about a Lincoln version running on both gas and electricity. We mean, it could just be comparing the fuel economy of the traditional MKZ with that of a hybrid, but this seems like something Ford would do in their attempt to move Lincoln from being seen as the Pinocchio of entry-level luxury into a real live luxury-loving boy. So it's not totally unsurprising considering how locked-at-the-lips the Ford and Lincoln brands have become as of late when it comes to product. Only Mercury appears to be the odd man out.. Oh, sorry Mercury, did we hit a sore spot on that one?

Anyway, although the prototype is heavily disguised at the front and rear — we're told to expect more of a 2009 Lincoln MKS-like grille beneath all the straps and leather. The rear end's also supposedly getting more of a wrap-around rear taillight — which we're told is to be emblematic of the new "bold" design language. Hey, wait a second — we thought it was Ford making all of those "Bold Moves." Whatever — we think it's a good thing for Lincoln, especially if Ford ever hopes to let the mid-size emerge as anything other than "the expensive Fusion."

Photo Credit: Dan Leathers