2015 Lincoln MKC
This all-new model holds its own against worldwide competition, says auto writer Greg Rubenstein.
There was a time—and not too long ago—when the notion that a Lincoln could compete against a BMW, an Audi, a Lexus, a Mercedes-Benz, or an Acura was theoretically possible but credibly implausible. That time is no more, and Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan-based luxury brand produces American-made products that are athletic, well appointed, fun to drive, and capable of holding their own against worldwide competition.
Gone too are the badge-engineered Lincolns—thinly veiled Ford models offering little more than alternate names and leather-stitched seats. Case in point is the all-new 2015 Lincoln MKC, the latest entry in a burgeoning field of luxury compact sport-utility vehicles.
The MKC’s array of driver safety aids and navigation support make travel to the office, golf course, or cabin getaway a breeze. High among these features are both driver- and passenger-side blind-spot monitoring—with multiple options for audible, tactile, and visual alerts—as well as a cross-traffic system that provides warning for moving objects as the vehicle backs out of a parking space.
Besides seven standard airbags, including a driver’s-knee airbag exclusive to the segment, other occupant-safety-technology systems include collision warning with brake support, driver-assisted lane keeping, and active park-assist capabilities for both getting into as well as out of tight parallel or other cramped parking spots.
The MKC is available in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations and is powered by one of two four-cylinder turbocharged engines. The standard 2.0-liter engine produces 240 horsepower, while the 2.3-liter version cranks out a robust 285 horsepower. All versions come with a six-speed automatic transmission. The tested sample came with AWD and the larger engine, which proved to be extremely smooth and flexible, ticking off highway miles at a 75 mph clip while returning an as-advertised 26 mpg. EPA estimates the MKC will return 18/26/21 mpg for city, highway, and combined economy respectively.
Pricing for the MKC with the 2.0-liter engine starts at $33,995, and the AWD version with 2.3 liter engine starts at $41,040. The tested model checked in at $49,265, a price that included just about every option box checked. Most notable among the add-ons were cooled front seats—a feature often lacking enough oomph to make a real difference, but in the MKC you’ll find a best-in-the-business seat-cooling system that performs as it should—along with rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated steering wheel, and a hands-free lift gate that opens at the swipe of a foot under the rear bumper.
Inside, occupants are greeted by a panoramic glass sunroof that stretches back to the rear cargo area. The instrument panel is set apart by Lincoln’s unique push-button gear-select system. It takes just a moment to get used to pushing one of the vertically stacked buttons to start the MKC or select reverse, drive, or park, but the layout is intuitive and functions without issue.
Additional interior enhancements include the debut of Lincoln’s new leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, which is fully equipped with multifunction controls. Front seating is 10-way power, heated and cooled plus power lumbar and memory for the driver, and four-way power, heated and cooled with power recline for the front passenger. In back, rear seats are 60/40 split-fold with heating.
The MKC features the latest version of SYNC, Ford and Lincoln’s multifunction infotainment control system. SYNC with MyLincoln Touch in the MKC includes an eight-inch LCD touch screen, offering voice-activated command control with redundant touch controls. Center-console buttons and knobs, bypassing SYNC with single-touch simplicity, can also manage climate and audio systems. The integrated THX-certified sound system features a THX-distributed bass technology with 14 speakers and renders notably rich and clear sound.
In all, the MKC is a solid performer with many class-leading touches. It’s taken a long time for Lincoln to finally produce truly competitive vehicles, and this premium SUV is worthy of serious consideration, even toe-to-toe with Germany or Japan’s finest. If you’re in the market for a small dose of luxury utility vehicle, give the MKC a test drive. You won’t come away disappointed and may just end up with an American-built product satisfyingly parked in your garage.
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