So, the question is: Is the Lincoln MKC just a re-badged Ford Escape, or is it unique and part of the evolution of the new Lincoln Motor Company? Read on.
There are some big time players in the red-hot luxury compact SUV segment. Acura RDX, Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK just to name a few. Lincoln knew they had to get this one right, and it appears they did a great job, without taking any significant styling risks. MKC has an understated exterior that does not draw attention nor offend. The split wing grille is quickly becoming a recognizable feature of all new Lincolns.
You have a choice of two EcoBoost 4-cylinder engines. The base engine is the 2.0-liter, or you can get a 2.3-liter EcoBoost like my review vehicle has. The larger engine puts out a pretty amazing 285-horses. Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic. Incidentally, the 2.3-liter that I am testing is the same engine that is being offered in the 2015 Mustang. My review vehicle is the all-wheel drive version, which only comes with the 2.3-liter.
MKC comes in three trim levels: Premier, Select, and the top of the line Reserve, which is what I am testing. Standard features are plentiful, including HID headlights, LED taillights, heated front seats, Sync and MyLincoln Touch Bluetooth connectivity, remote keyless entry with keypad, push button start, remote start, reverse sensing, and hill start assist.
With the Reserve package, for $6935 you get a terrific panoramic moon roof, voice-activated navigation system, rear backup camera with cross-traffic alert, heated and cooled front seats, and a hands free power liftgate. This is actually a cool option. With your key nearby, you can wave your foot under the rear bumper and it will open automatically. You can see that being really nice if you are approaching the vehicle with your hands full.
Other options are the larger engine for $1140, a terrific THX sound system for $995, 19” 5-spoke wheels which look terrific, a heated steering wheel for $580, and a $2235 Technology package. That package gets you active park assist (it will parallel park itself and get you out of a parallel parking space) adaptive cruise control, forward sensing system to warn you if you are getting too close to something, and lane departure and blind spot warning. Technology package would be a must-have option for me.
A couple of things of note are that I have had no issues with the Sync or MyTouch system, it would appear that those issues are long gone. Also, the steering wheel on this vehicle is larger than usual and extremely soft to the touch. It also has cruise control and audio buttons. Although worthless, I still like the push button transmission shifter that runs vertically to the left of the touch screen, and hallelujah, you can tune the radio by turning a knob, something that is getting harder to find. Also cool, when you unlock the vehicle, it projects the Lincoln logo in white on the ground to keep you from stepping in a puddle.
Lincoln used soft trim items throughout the interior. MKC has a nice mix of aluminum and wood on the dash and door panels. For me, the wood gives it a bit of a dated look, I would have preferred more aluminum. That aside, the interior is terrific and the seat leather is soft and supple. Cargo area is ample, but back seat room is limited. If the front passengers are tall and have the seat back, the rear seat passengers are going to be uncomfortable unless they are kids.
The MKC has surprisingly good handling, especially when Lincoln Drive Control (LDC) is set to Sport. LDC is a driver-selectable system that governs parameters including steering, suspension and even active noise cancelation. The system features the usual modes Normal, Comfort and Sport. In Sport mode, you get automatic downshifting, firmer steering and more aggressive throttle mapping.
My test car was fitted with continuously controlled damping, which is standard on all-wheel drive MKCs or a $650 option on front-drive models. The electronically variable system consists of front MacPherson struts and a rear multilink setup with gas-pressurized shocks and anti-roll bars at both ends. What you need to know is that it works really well, both in comfort setting and in Sport mode.
Ride quality is good, in fact I would go so far as to say exceptional. MKC has the feel of the larger Lexus RX350. From a dead stop, acceleration is terrific; I would have never believed this was a 4-cylinder. I was afraid there would be some “turbo lag” but I am pleased to confirm there is none.
What convinced me that this is not a cleverly disguised Ford is the frame. Lincoln engineers widened the frame and body of the MKC by an inch. Although that doesn’t sound like much, it is expensive to do, and increases the stability of this Louisville, KY-made SUV. I have great admiration for any carmaker that will make changes you can’t see, yet they enhance the driving experience.
Although my review MKC is loaded, the price surprised me a little. It is another example of a trend we are seeing more and more from automakers: a low base price, but then a rapid ascension when equipped the way most people would want a vehicle equipped. All in all, it’s a great SUV, I just wish it were a little less expensive.
What I liked most: Quietness, ride quality, and engine performance.
What I would change: Wish it were slightly less expensive, and I would love to see a 7-speed automatic transmission offered.
MSRP: Base price $35,595. As equipped $48,770.
Fuel Economy: 18 City/26 highway/21 combined
Odometer reading when tested: 2870 miles.
Weight: 3989 Pounds.
Length-Width-Height: 179.2” long/84.1” wide/65.2” High.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.5 gallons.
Towing Capacity: 1000 pounds, 2000 pounds with trailer towing package.
2015 Lincoln MKC in a few words: A great, small luxury SUV.
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain coverage, 2 years/24,000 complimentary maintenance.
Dealers: We have great Lincoln dealers in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, Stockton CA, Phoenix, and San Antonio.
Manufacturer’s website: http://www.lincoln.com/crossovers/mkc/
Photo Credit: Lincoln