The newest target for the crossover craze is small luxury utilities. Auto makers can’t seem to bring them to the market fast enough to satisfy a public hungry for luxury in a small yet versatile package. The most recent brand to plunge into the mix is Lincoln, with the compact MKC. Let’s see if this latest Lincoln can help the brand “escape” their current also-ran status and head back to prominence.
With their last few all-new vehicle launches, Lincoln has made a big deal about that particular model being the one to reverse a decline in sales and image. Well indeed, things are finally starting to look up this year on both counts and their latest, this 2015 MKC will certainly help further the cause.
This compact, premium utility is without a doubt the right vehicle at the right time; as small luxury utes are springing up everywhere, and people are just as eagerly snatching them up. And it doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to discover that being incredibly quiet and ultra-comfortable were clear priorities in this design. Long distance cruising is where the MKC’s ride really shines.
Lincoln Drive Control includes Continuously Controlled Damping and the usual Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes to tailor your driving experience. Perhaps surprisingly, handling is on par with its primary European rivals, yet the ride remains smooth and controlled no matter the drive mode setting.
It’s all turbo-4, all the time, under the hood of the MKC. You choose whether you want the boost coming from the Escape’s 240-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost or a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost that outputs 285-horsepower and 305 lb-ft. of torque.
We spent all of our early drive time around Santa Barbara, California in a 2.3 and found it to be super torque-y feeling and spirited around town. But once the roads got more interesting, it and the 6-speed automatic transmission didn’t always seem to be on the same page, as there was occasional hunting for gears and power. All-wheel-drive is standard with the 2.3 and available on the 2.0. Torque Vectoring Control is standard on all.
Lincoln didn’t release a 0-60 time, but the 2.3 should just best the Escape 2.0s 7.0-seconds. Towing capacity is actually greater with the 2.0-liter, but at 3,000-pounds it’s still rated 500-pounds less than in the Escape.
Like the MKZ sedan, the trans is controlled by push buttons on the dash. It works fine, unless you’re in a hurry doing 3-point turns, as there is some lag time between Drive and Reverse.
It’s lux to the max inside, as most materials are both good to look at and touch. With the possible exception of the center stack, where function appears to overcome form. But kudos to Lincoln for actually adding buttons and knobs to the Sync with MyLincoln Touch interface.
Front seats are large and comfortable and just about every current tech feature you can think of is available. Rear seats are equally comfortable and the space is pretty roomy for a compact. As for storage, cargo volume is also less than the Escape at 25.2 cubic-ft. behind the 2nd row, expanding to 53.1 cubic-ft with the standard 60/40 split-folding seat backs lowered.
Wow factor features include an epic panorama Vista Roof, and approach detection with cool but gimmicky welcome mat lighting.
The same can be said about the highly sculpted exterior. It looks cool and very athletic, yet also a little attention-seeking.
The MKC obviously shares the Ford Escape’s chassis, but body panels are more smooth and classy than edgy. Upper bodylines are reminiscent of the Hyundai Santa Fe. Out back, the full width tail lights and unique wraparound lift gate give the appearance of a road-going, art deco toaster.
The retro split winged grille is back, and here less objectionable, though none of our crew appreciated the tired 90’s gray cladding that encircles the MKC.
Taking self-parking to the next level is Park Out Assist which helps guide the driver out of tight parallel parking situations.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 2.3 are 18-City, 26-Highway, and 21-Combined with Regular gas. Making the Energy Impact Score very much average for all vehicles at 15.7-barrels of annual oil consumption with CO2 emissions of 7.0-tons.
Base pricing of $33,995 is probably the best news yet, as that is significantly less than most rivals. But stepping up to the 2.3-liter requires a more considerable investment. Technically, it’s only about 11-hundred dollars more, but as for now, Lincoln requires you to also step up to Select trim, which brings your total to $40,860.
And that’s where things get muddled for the entire small luxury crossover segment. When you hit that 40K mark, there are quite a few larger options out there. Still, among its smallish peers, the 2015 Lincoln MKC stacks up well as it is a very nimble, well-crafted piece. And, it will certainly do its part on putting the Lincoln brand back on track.
Torque: 305 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds est.
EPA: 18 mpg city/ 26 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.0 tons/yr