By Bob Nagy
The new-for-2015 Lincoln MKC is the division's first entry into the red-hot luxury compact crossover SUV segment. Sharing a platform with the Ford Escape, the 5-passenger MKC features unique interior/exterior styling as well as a wide spectrum of Lincoln-specific mechanical and feature upgrades that endow it with elevated levels of refinement and performance. Possessing a more youthful, contemporary character than any current Lincoln, the upstart MKC faces off against key SUV rivals like the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class. Available in Premiere, Select and Reserve trims, it offers buyers the choice of two EcoBoost engines and front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Rounding out the formula, the MKC complements its comprehensive list of standards and options with a solid value story.
If you want an upscale small crossover SUV that offers sophisticated style, great comfort, solid handling and a wide range of luxury features, the all-new Lincoln MKC may well be what you've been waiting for.
Buyers seeking class-leading rear-seat accommodations will be better served by an Acura RDX or Audi Q5 while those requiring an SUV with maximum cargo volume will find more in those two MKC rivals as well as in the BMW X3.
The 2015 Lincoln MKC is an all-new crossover SUV for this classic American prestige brand, and it brings Lincoln into the heart of the hottest model segment in today's automotive market.
Driving Impressions Regardless of engine or drivetrain configuration, the Lincoln MKC feels like a capable and confident SUV, whether cruising down a freeway or carving though corners. Developed primarily for on-road running,...... the MKC boasts a wider track and a lower center of gravity than its Ford Escape cousin and adds to its surefooted character with unique suspension/steering calibrations. Front-wheel Torque Vectoring Control and standard 18-inch wheels and tires improve grip while curtailing body roll. The behind-the-wheel experience gets even better with the available Continuously Controlled Damping system (standard issue on all-wheel-drive models) which permits on-demand fine tuning of the chassis. Collectively, the Lincoln remix adds roughly 200 pounds to the MKC, with the 2.3-liter/AWD model tipping the scales at nearly 4,000 pounds. While that extra weight does take some edge off of acceleration, all versions of the MKC are more than capable of coping with all daily driving demands.
CONTINUOUSLY CONTROLLED DAMPING SUSPENSION
A freestanding option across the MKC lineup and standard on all-wheel-drive models, the Continuously Controlled Damping system works with Lincoln Drive Control to allow the choice of Comfort, Normal and Sport shock absorber settings.
ACTIVE NOISE CONTROL
Standard on all MKC models, active noise control interfaces with the small SUV's audio system to bring a welcome measure of added serenity to its well-appointed passenger cabin and make every trip a bit more relaxed.
As the first vehicle from the new Lincoln Design Studio, the 2015 MKC's well-finished cabin has a definite "class-above" character. Its dash-mounted push-button transmission controls yield additional storage space while the new MyLincoln Touch system features user-friendly knobs and buttons instead of annoying slider controls. Up front, the MKC's power bucket seats offer laudable comfort and support. However, its fixed-position 60/40 folding rear bench is less accommodating, particularly with respect to legroom for adults. Maximum cargo space – expanding from 25.3 cubic feet to 53.1 with the seatbacks folded – also falls well below its Acura, Audi and BMW rivals.Exterior
Aimed at younger and younger-thinking buyers, the MKC epitomizes the "New Lincoln" look from its elegant split wing grille framed by high-efficiency HID headlights to a full-width LED taillight and sophisticated wraparound rear hatch. The MKC's sleek profile is further enhanced by a flowing roofline, bold shoulder creases and smartly sculpted body panels. Standard across the lineup is a class-leading Approach Detection System that automatically illuminates the vehicle when its owner comes within eight feet and even includes color-keyed mini-lamps in each door pull. The Range-topping Reserve variant also features a huge 12-square-foot glass Vista Roof.
Every Lincoln MKC comes dressed to impress. The entry-level Premiere model packs a bounty of power assists, active noise control and dual-zone climate control with SYNC/MyLincoln Touch, and a 9-speaker audio system with SiriusXM Radio. MKC Select spec replaces leatherette and aluminum cabin appointments with Bridge of Weir leather and premium wood while adding ambient lighting, a 10-way power passenger seat, and auto-folding side-view mirrors. The MKC Reserve brings heated/cooled front seats, a glass panoramic Vista Roof, navigation, the MyLincoln Mobile app for always-on remote vehicle access, a hands-free power liftgate, blind-spot monitoring and a power-adjustability tilt/telescoping steering column.
Buyers can personalize the all-new MKC with a selection of freestanding extras as well as with focused equipment packages. Highlights include Continuously Controlled Damping, all-wheel drive, a 14-speaker THX II Certified Audio system, 19-inch and 20-inch wheel/tire fitments, and various custom paint finishes. All three MKC trims can be further upgraded with a Climate Package (heated steering wheel/rear seats, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beam headlights), and a Class II Trailer Tow Package. The Select Plus Package bundles navigation with blind-spot monitoring, and the Reserve-only Technology Package brings adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and Forward Sensing and Active Park Assist systems.
The 2015 Lincoln MKC offers a choice of two turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engines. The base 2.0-liter is same one used in the Ford Escape and produces an identical 240 horsepower/270 lb-ft of torque. Rated at 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque, the MKC's optional engine is a new 2.3-liter that's also going to the 2015 Ford Mustang. Both are backed by a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission that offers manual-style control via paddles mounted on the steering wheel. Although the engines boast very respectable fuel-economy figures, the MKC's maximum tow ratings – when fitted with the optional Trailer Tow Package: 3,000 pounds for the any 2.0-liter and 2,000 pounds for the AWD 2.3-liter – are well under the Audi Q5's class-leading 4,400-pound figure.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg (front-wheel drive), 19/26 mpg (all-wheel drive)
2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
285 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
305 lb-ft of torque @ 2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg (all-wheel drive)
Intent on maximizing its appeal as a conquest vehicle, Lincoln has rolled out the all-new MKC SUV with fairly aggressive pricing. A front-drive 2.0-liter MKC Premiere opens just under $34,000 – about $1,000 less than the Acura RDX. Stepping up to an MKC Select pops that figure by $3,230 with the MKC Reserve starting close to $41,000. Adding all-wheel drive bumps the bottom line on any 2.0-liter model by $2,495. Each of those base prices rises by roughly $3,500 on the 2.3-liter/AWD side of the MKC family, and a loaded Reserve variant can exceed the $50K mark. While fully maxed-out SUV rivals from Audi, BMW and M-B can all top that figure by $5,000 or more, each of those well-established competitors also offers V6, turbodiesel and/or hybrid powertrain choices along with enhanced towing capabilities. Those tangible real-world tradeoffs may well impact your take on the 2015 Lincoln MKC's perceived value.