The pleasant surprise of the bunch.

Starting Price: $34,155

Above Average: Comfortable, quiet, smooth power delivery

Below Average: Resale value, rear seat room

Consensus: Lincoln’s most appealing, most competitive entry (with one critical but not insurmountable shortcoming)

500 Miles in 97 Words

The Lincoln MKC proved a better match for Paso Robles wine country than we expected, demonstrating smooth, refined character on par with the world’s finest. Lincoln's newest and smallest SUV, the MKC delivered 500 miles of relaxed comfort with a combination of brute force, modern tech and supportive seats. We wouldn’t want to make the same trip in the MKC’s rear seat, however, which was far and away the tightest in the test. But lagging resale values cast the darkest shadow on what was otherwise two very bright and shiny days for Lincoln’s impressive small luxury SUV. 

A Closer Look

The MKC isn’t quite as well-rounded as some of its cohorts, but it’s strong in several key areas. Here’s a quick look at how it stacked up across nine key categories, followed by deeper dives into each:

Highway Driving  Combining a smooth ride, comfortable front seats and a quiet cabin that benefits from standard Active Noise Cancellation technology, the Lincoln edged the Mercedes for the highest rating in our highway evaluation. Our MKC also benefitted from a power advantage, thanks to an optional 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 44 more horsepower than the GLC's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (285 horsepower vs. 241 horsepower).

We were also impressed with the MKC's adaptive cruise control, which didn't panic when a vehicle slid into the buffer, and also closed gaps quickly. We were less impressed by the lane keeping system, which wasn't nearly as responsive or precise as the system in the Mercedes.

City Driving  In combination with a smooth-shifting, smartly programmed 6-speed automatic transmission, the MKC’s extra power also helped it earn our top rating in the city by delivering smooth and effortless off-the-line acceleration. On the flip side, some editors found the collision warning system a bit too sensitive, and the warning system a bit too harsh. 

Sporty Driving  The 285-horsepower engine notwithstanding, practically speaking the Lincoln MKC is no sportier than any other Lincoln you've driven. It's not soft and squishy, it's just not designed or intended to be tossed around. If for some reason you’re indeed seeking a small luxury SUV that can substitute as a small luxury sport sedan on the weekends, the Infiniti QX50 is by far your best bet in this group.

Interior Appeal  Boasting high-lux touches like a leather-covered dash and a suede-like Alcantara headliner, our top-of-the-line MKC Black Label wasn't fully representative of the line. But even without the extra touches, the MKC’s passenger cabin features an attractive mix of materials, design and technology. It also featured our favorite center console setup, combining good cupholders and a forward bin with power and USB ports.

Infotainment  The 2016 Lincoln MKC is the first to feature Ford’s new infotainment system, Sync 3, which ranked right behind the latest-generation Comand system in the Mercedes-Benz GLC. Highlights of the new system include more contemporary graphics, easier-to-use system navigation, plus swipe and pinch capability. Our search for a flawless infotainment continues, but Sync 3 is the latest step in the right direction. The optional THX sound sytem was also impressive, but our enthusiasm was tempered by the intermittent sound of a loose wire or something similar.

Rear Seat Room  With the tightest rear-seat accommodations in the test and perhaps the entire segment, the MKC is not the top choice for buyers who plan to plan to utilize the back row with regularity. A reclining seatback is perhaps the lone highlight here.

Cargo Utility  According to Lincoln’s measurements, the MKC offers 25 cubic feet of cargo room, which is a full 25% more than the Mercedes. In our subjective analysis, though, it’s hard to find any meaningful difference between the two. In fact, while we found some variation in cargo volume among these four vehicles, there’s very little meaningful difference between any of them.

Fuel Economy  On one hand, the fact that the Lincoln lagged the Lexus NX and the Mercedes-Benz GLC in fuel economy isn’t surprising because it also offered a more powerful engine. On the other hand, even the Lincoln’s less powerful base engine trails those two competitors in EPA fuel economy estimates. Compared to the impressively efficient Lexus NX the difference works out to an extra 12 dollars per month in fuel costs.

Resale Value  Poor predicted resale value is the MKC’s Achilles’ heel. Let’s say you purchased our well-equipped $58,000 Lincoln MKC Black Label, and your best friend opted for our $59,000 Mercedes-Benz GLC. Fast forward three years and it’s time to sell. According to the Kelley Blue Book Residual Value Guide for May/June 2016, your friend stands to recoup a whopping $14,000 more for the Mercedes. And the difference is almost as stark when comparing the MKC to the NX and QX50. There are a few ways to combat this: Negotiate a really, really, really good deal on your MKC purchase price; look for a lease deal that offers a competitive monthly payment; or flip the script and buy a used MKC to actually take advantage of the poor predicted resale values.

Inside and Out: 2016 Lincoln MKC

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