2015 Lincoln MKC

Rating

77/100

Background

Is that the name of a new Lincoln or a stock market ticker symbol? Even we have a hard time keeping our Lincolns straight, but all you really need to know about the 2015 Lincoln MKC is that it’s a genuinely competitive compact luxury crossover.
The MKC has good genetics on its side, as it’s mechanically based on the excellent Ford Escape. Note the word “based,” as opposed to past Lincoln efforts that were more akin to removing a Ford oval and slapping on a Lincoln badge. It certainly doesn’t look much like an Escape. Indeed, if the MKC imitates any particular vehicle, it’s the Audi Q5. Lincoln has clearly drawn inspiration from the Q5’s distinctive liftgate and integrated taillights, and the profiles of the two are rather similar. But the winged grille is pure Lincoln, and the overall effect is quite pleasing to the eye. The MKC’s cabin also pleases with its tasteful wood accents and sleek, high-tech dashboard.
The MKC gets the Escape’s more powerful, optional turbocharged engine as standard equipment. This 2.0-liter 4-cylinder cranks out a respectable 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, but you can also get an upgrade, to a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder good for 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. Complementing this power is the MKC’s optional adaptive suspension, which gives the MKC an excellent drive quality on the highway.
As good as the SUVS “B” rated MKC is, there are some exceptionally desirable models in this segment. Top choices include the practical 2015 Acura RDX, the stylish Audi Q5, the sporty 2015 BMW X3, the classy Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class and the family-friendly 2015 Volvo XC60. Truth be told, we’d be hard-pressed to give the MKC a decisive nod over any of these outstanding vehicles. But the MKC holds its own, and it’s typically priced lower than these competitors as well. If you’re looking for an alternative to the usual suspects, a 2015 MKC at the right price could be a compelling candidate.

Drive

The 2015 MKC’s base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine packs a suitable amount of punch for most situations. Despite its spec sheet numbers, the 2.3-liter engine doesn’t feel a whole lot quicker. It’s also noticeably less potent than the 6-cylinder variants of the Q5, X3 and GLK.
If you want a luxury crossover with a cozy and quiet cabin, then getting the MKC with its optional adaptive suspension is a good choice. On long highway journeys, the MKC feels smooth and relaxed. And thanks in part to a standard active noise-cancellation system, it’s also very quiet. When the road bends, though, the MKC is less appealing. The comfort-tuned suspension allows a lot of body roll, or lean, which cuts back on how precise the MKC feels. All-wheel-drive models feel a bit more nimble in turns thanks to their torque-vectoring technology.

Exterior

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is a five-passenger compact luxury crossover SUV. There are available packages/equipment groups known as Premiere, Select and Reserve.
Standard equipment for the base MKC (Premiere) includes 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), driver memory settings, a four-way power front passenger seat, heated front seat and leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery. On the technology front you’ll find an 8-inch touchscreen with the MyLincoln Touch interface, a rearview camera, voice controls (Sync) and a nine-speaker sound system with two USB ports, an SD card reader and satellite radio.
The Select package (required with the 2.3-liter engine) adds power-folding side mirrors, leather upholstery, an eight-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar), ambient interior lighting and a cargo cover. The Reserve gets you a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free power liftgate with a foot sensor, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system, a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert and an embedded modem that enables remote communication with the car via the MyLincoln Mobile smartphone app (including GPS location, remote start and status checks for fuel, tire pressures, etc.).
Depending on configuration, additional features are also available. The Climate package comes with automatic high-beam control, automatic wipers, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Technology package contributes adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, a forward collision warning system and an automated parallel-parking system. Stand-alone options include adaptive suspension dampers, 19- or 20-inch wheels and a 14-speaker surround-sound sound system.

Interior

When you first slip behind the MKC’s wheel, you may find yourself wondering what they did with the shifter. Since it’s all run by computers anyway, Lincoln has elected to present the MKC’s transmission as a vertical stack of controls to the left of the touchscreen, opening up a handy storage area at the base of the center stack where the shift lever normally resides. The shift controls themselves don’t feel as high quality as we’d like, but we can’t argue with the increased versatility that results.
Overall materials quality in the MKC isn’t a home run, but we’ll call it a solid double off the wall. The tastefully finished wood inlays and available leather upholstery impress, though the generic Ford-spec climate controls and the dashboard’s dull silver-painted plastic trim do not. The standard MyLincoln Touch (a.k.a. MyFord Touch) system handles Bluetooth, audio, navigation and other car functions via its crisp 8-inch touchscreen. In practice, however, MyLincoln Touch’s processing speeds still seem sluggish during certain tasks. Nonetheless, it is improved over past iterations and tech-savvy owners will likely appreciate the system’s capabilities.
The MKC’s backseat offers adequate legroom unless there are tall folks in front, in which case it’s pretty cramped back there. You can make it work, but competitors like the Acura RDX and BMW X3 are more accommodating. Cargo capacity is also disappointing. The MKC offers 25.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 53.1 cubes with the rear seatbacks folded down. Rivals such as the RDX and Volvo XC60 are notably roomier.

Safety

The 2015 Lincoln MKC comes standard with stability control, antilock disc brakes, a rearview camera, front-seat side airbags, a driver knee airbag and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is MyKey, which allows parents to set electronic parameters (such as maximum speed and radio volume) for when teenagers are behind the wheel. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a frontal collision warning with emergency brake priming are optional.
In government crash tests, the MKC received four out of five possible stars, with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side crash protection. However, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration did note a safety concern for the MKC: “During the side impact test, the left rear passenger door unlatched and opened. A door opening during a side-impact crash increases the likelihood of occupant ejection.”
During SUVS performance testing, an MKC with the 2.0-liter engine and front-wheel drive came to a stop from 60 miles per hour in 128 feet, which is several feet longer than average for the segment. An MKC with all-wheel drive and the 2.3-liter engine came to a stop in a much more respectable 121 feet.

Specs

The 2015 Lincoln MKC’s base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It’s connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. For this engine, front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. Fuel economy is EPA rated at 23 miles per gallon combined (20 city/29 highway) with FWD and 22 miles per gallon combined (19 city/26 highway) with AWD.
During SUVS performance testing, an MKC with front-wheel drive and the 2.0-liter engine went from zero to 60 miles per hour in 8.0 seconds, a slow time for this class of vehicle.
The optional 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder churns out 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. It comes only with AWD. Fuel economy is barely affected at 21 miles per gallon combined (18 city/26 highway). In our testing, an all-wheel-drive MKC with the 2.3-liter engine accelerated from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.2 seconds. It’s an improvement, but most competing crossover SUVs are still quicker.

Value

Generous standard equipment; cozy and quiet highway ride; good value.

Verdict

The 2015 Lincoln MKC doesn’t set any new standards for the small luxury crossover segment. But as a stylish alternative to the class favorites, it’s a smart choice.

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