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2015 Lincoln MKC Overview
Lincoln Motor Company expands its lineup of luxury-oriented vehicles for 2015 with the addition of the Lincoln MKC entry-level compact crossover vehicle, or sport premium utility vehicle, as it's called by the automaker. It's the second of four new Lincoln vehicles, following the introduction of the MKZ sedan a year earlier, expected to arrive in showrooms by 2016, as the automaker seeks to rebrand and rejuvenate itself by doubling its stable of vehicles. Targeting younger upscale buyers, the MKC combines a well-equipped luxury-oriented cabin with a sporty, athletic exterior design and a choice of two EcoBoost engines. Add in an all-new Lincoln steering wheel, a sophisticated suspension and high-tech features like a hands-free tailgate, and the MKC debuts on the right note.
Although the MKC enters a competitive market segment and faces off against such established vehicles as the Acura RDX, the Audi Q5, the BMW X1/X3 and the Cadillac SRX, Lincoln has smartly priced its latest vehicle at the lower end of the scale for its class, which should help draw in new buyers. However, the MKC will have to prove itself to establish a foothold in the marketplace, especially after sales of the MKZ sedan have been sluggish, failing to provide the spark the automaker wanted. On a positive note, sales of vehicles in the small premium SUV/crossover class have been growing at a good clip, so the timing looks good for the MKC. But will younger buyers respond to the older-skewing Lincoln nameplate? Only time will tell.
For now, the automaker has done all it can to ensure the MKC succeeds right out of the gate. The MKC's exterior design, while not necessarily distinctive or eye-catching, is certainly pleasing enough and even attractive. Although it's based on the Ford Escape and displays the same basic profile, sloping roofline and window size and shape, the MKC gets a snazzier front end design with Lincoln's signature smoked chrome split-wing grille, as well as a more pronounced beltline with sculpted sides, upgraded pedestal side-view mirrors and anodized roof rails with crossbars. The grille includes active shutters, which close at higher speeds to help improve fuel economy. Standard exterior features include auto on/off HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, narrow LED taillights, dual chrome exhaust pipes and 18-inch aluminum wheels. Add in available 19- and 20-inch wheels and an available panoramic all-glass Vista Roof, as well as an available foot-operated hands-free taillight, and the MKC makes it own design statement that puts it a big notch above the fairly plain-looking Escape.
Lincoln offers the MKC at Premiere, Select and Reserve trim levels. The entry-level Premiere comes equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine producing 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Featuring direct injection and twin independent variable cam timing (Ti-VCT), it mates to a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, borrowed from other Lincoln vehicles. The transmission includes a manual-shift mode and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The EPA has not yet estimated fuel economy numbers for the MKC's two engines, but Lincoln recommends premium fuel for optimal horsepower in both.
Owners can outfit the Select and Reserve trims with either the 2.0-liter EcoBoost or a new turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine, also with direct injection and Ti-VCT. It delivers 275 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, and links to the same 6-speed automatic transmission. Ford plans to use the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine in its new 2015 Mustang, although it boosts horsepower to 305 for use in the pony car.
The MKC features a wider track than the Escape, which helps minimize body roll and provides a sportier feel. In its standard configuration, the MKC features front-wheel drive (FWD), although owners can opt for Lincoln's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD), which includes the automaker's Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) system with Normal, Comfort and Sport driving modes, with Sport mode delivering the firmest ride. The CCD system constantly monitors road surfaces and makes adjustments to the suspension within 20 milliseconds. Combined with upgraded 19-inch wheels, the CCD and AWD systems provide a smooth ride and optimal handling and cornering. Owners can also add CCD as a standalone feature to FWD trims. Torque vectoring control and electric power-assisted steering comes standard in all three trims.
To ensure the MKC's designation as a premium ride, Lincoln outfits the compact SUV with a number of upscale features, including a Lincoln Welcome system, which detects the driver's approach to the vehicle at night and automatically brightens exterior lighting, including illuminated door-handle pockets that help light the way. The entry-level Premiere trims come standard with Lincoln's leatherette upholstery, heated front seats with 10-way power adjustment for the driver and 4-way adjustment for the passenger, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, aluminum trim and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Standard tech features include Ford's Sync system with an 8-inch touchscreen and 2 USB ports, as well as a mobile app, which owners can use to remotely locate, unlock and start the vehicle. Lincoln also includes a 9-speaker premium sound system with satellite radio, although owners can upgrade to a 14-speaker 700-watt THX II audio system.
The Select trim adds a 10-way power passenger seat, ambient lighting and the new Lincoln steering wheel wrapped in Wollsdorf leather. At the top of the line, the Reserve also includes the Vista Roof, navigation, heated and cooled front seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a Blind-Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert and the hands-free liftgate, which owners can operate by swiping a foot under a sensor located in the rear bumper. Options available for both the Select and Reserve include a heated steering wheel and a heated rear seat, as well as auto high-beam headlights and rain-sensing wipers. Lincoln also offers available Bridge of Weir leather upholstery. All trims boast a roomy 25.2 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats.
Safety features include 7 airbags, with a standard driver's knee airbag, as well as traction control, roll control, a rear camera and 4-wheel antilock brakes. Lincoln also offers a number of optional safety systems for the Reserve trim, including adaptive cruise control, a lane-keeping system, an active park-assist system and a front-traffic-sensing system.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.