Don't Miss

Lincoln MKC

2015 Lincoln MKC

Base Price: $33,100
Price as Tested: $47,875

By Russ Heaps

If you didn’t know that the all-new Lincoln MKC shares some DNA with the Ford Escape, you would never guess it. For 15 years or so Lincolns have been nothing more than gussied-up Fords, but you can’t accuse the MKC of that. It is a luxury crossover that can go toe to toe with anything in its segment.

Ford has an embarrassingly lackluster media-relations effort. What resources it does devote to keeping the media up to date areLincoln MKC Media Drive mostly focused on media of the social variety. I don’t think I had driven a Lincoln in two years or more before the MKC. Imagine my surprise when one rolled into my driveway several weeks ago. I was tempted to run out and buy a lottery ticket.

I tried to keep an open mind as I first slid behind its wheel. I had prejudged the MKC based on its creepy commercials featuring Matthew McConaughey. I was prepared not to be impressed. Here’s the thing: The MKC doesn’t raise the bar in the segment, but it certainly stands up to any of its competitors. It has stylish lines, a remarkably comfortable and luxurious cabin, and displays excellent road manners. There may be quicker and more fun-to-drive compact crossovers out there – the Audi Q5 leaps to mind – but if your primary must-have is a luxurious experience at a reasonable price, the MKC kills it.

Both available engines sport Ford’s EcoBoost label, which means they are turbocharged. The standard engine is a 240-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder turbo married to a driver-shiftable, six-speed automatic transmission. I have no clue how successfully this combination motivates the MKC’s roughly 4,000 pounds because my test Lincoln had the $1,140 engine upgrade to the 285-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo. It shares transmissions with the 2L. AWD is a $2,495 option with the standard 2L, but comes standard on all MKCs equipped with the 2.3L engine.

Lincoln MKC Dream RideAlthough it won’t dust German competitors accelerating off the line when the light goes green, the MKC has plenty of oomph for around-town errands, and it cruises on the highway with the best of them. Fuel economy is decent, too. The EPA estimates this Ford will deliver 18 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in combined driving. Remember, that’s with AWD. Neither engine size nor the drive-wheel count has much impact on mileage. The FWD version with the 2L specs out at 20 city/29 highway/23 combined. When the 2L drives all four wheels, it drops to 19 city/26 highway/22 combined.

Ford first toyed with the push-button transmission on the Edsel in the late 1950s, and apparently never gave up on the idea because here it is on the MKZ sedan and the MKC. As in the MKZ, the transmission buttons are arranged vertically on the center stack to the left of the touchscreen. I’m not wild about this feature, but might warm up to it with time. For the week I had to deal with it, however, I found it a bit awkward.

One of MKC’s highlights is its interior. In automobiles, American luxury is all about pampering driver and passengers. The MKC does this brilliantly. The seats are comfortable with a healthy dollop of support. The dashboard is stylish with easy-to-see gauges and controls. For the most part, the materials are topnotch. And, there’s lots of storage. Coworkers will be impressed as they are driven to lunch, as well as the family being very content on cross-country jaunts.

The three degrees of MKC aren’t trim levels as much as they are equipment packages. All pack a lot of gear, beginning with the2015 Lincoln MKC entry-level Premier Group with dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-parking sensors, rearview camera, heated front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, keyless entry/start, an eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity and a nine-speaker audio system with iPod interface.

The successive packages – Select and Reserve – require the 2.3L engine. The $47,875 as-tested price of the MKC I drove included the $6,935 Reserve Group. It added folding outboard mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, navigation system with voice recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, cooled front seats and hands-free power liftgate with foot sensor. Extra-cost options on my test Ford included an upgraded THX-infused audio system ($995), upgraded 19-inch wheels ($395), and the Technology Package ($2,235) with active-park assist, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning and heated steering wheel.

I liked the MKC much more than I thought I would. I think Lincoln has created the vehicle it set out to build: A crossover to win over buyers more interested in creature comforts than hot-shoe performance. Priced right for the segment, it should attract some younger shoppers looking to dip a toe into the luxury market.