Lincoln has been fighting an uphill battle for years now, trying to convince the car-buying public that its warmed-over Fords are worth the extra coin and are acceptable to drive for anyone under 55 years of age. Well, enter the MKC – Lincoln’s newest crossover and well-disguised cousin of the 2014 Ford Escape.

I recently had the chance to spend a week with the MKC. My tester came fully decked out in the Black Label trim and loaded to the hilt with just about every option available. The extras made for a comfy ride, but also an expensive one. At nearly $60,000, the Black Label MKC stretches into the stratosphere of luxury crossover pricing, but makes the MKC feel like more than just a crossover.

Fitted with the premium engine, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and the available AWD, the MKC packed 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. That might not be as much power as the 2015 Ford Mustang’s version of the EcoBoost, but it proved more than enough to motivate the 4,066-pound five-seater.

So let’s dive into the MKC and see how Lincoln’s new compact ‘ute competes with the likes of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.

Continue reading for the full driven review

  • 2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    285 @ 5500
  • MPG(Cty):
    18
  • MPG(Hwy):
    26
  • Torque @ RPM:
    305 @ 2750
  • Energy:
    Turbocharged
  • Displacement:
    2.3 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine, AWD
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Walk-Around Video


Exterior

2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Exterior Test drive
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2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Exterior Test drive
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2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Exterior Test drive
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In all honesty, I’ve never been a fan of Lincoln’s modern design styling. From photos and videos, the Lincoln grille reminds me of a Baleen Whale’s bristle teeth sucking up plankton. In person and after a week of use, the grille somehow lost its marine-life stigma. It really does look better in person.

In person and after a week of use, the grille somehow lost its marine-life stigma.

The rest of the MKC’s exterior is rather elegant. The accent line that runs from the headlights rearward helps define the height of the vehicle while the low-slung roof keeps its appearance on the sportier side of conventional. The small rear glass is aggressively sloped and features a wiper that does a fantastic job at cleaning a large portion of the glass.

My Black Label tester dropped its standard 19-inch wheels in favor of the optional 20-inch rollers. The multi-spoke design was really appealing and I received multiple complements on their design.

The MKC is easily identified as a luxury crossover, despite any negative brand perception. The designers did a great job in that regard. I can only hope for Lincoln’s sake that the general public starts recognizing the brand’s more youthful yet tasteful new vibe.

Interior

2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Interior Test drive
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2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Interior Test drive
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2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Interior Test drive
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While some luxury vehicles are just dolled-up versions of another, the MKC’s dashboard shares almost nothing with the Ford Escape. That’s a welcome departure from Lincoln’s previous status quo. The MKC enjoys a cleaner, simplified dash that is covered in padded leather and real wood accents. It’s minimalistic theme carries throughout the cabin and keeps clutter down.

The MKC enjoys a cleaner, simplified dash that is covered in padded leather and real wood accents.

While the dash offers a sophisticated look, some of its materials are less than stellar. The black plastic that makes up the majority of the center stack feels cheap, as does the area around the front cup holders. While not perfect, the buttons on the center stack – mostly the HVAC controls – feel richer than the plastics that surround them. The radio dials are the best-feeling controls of the bunch.

Behind the wheel, the heated leather steering wheel feels good in hand and is loaded with controls. The buttons are a bit small, but their positioning is logical and practical. And since I’m on the topic of buttons, the button-operated gear selector is certainly unconventional, but it gets the job done. Their location did send my wife into a panic when she accidentally hit the Sport button when trying to change the radio station from the passenger seat. I enjoyed it, though.

Passenger comfort is impossible to gripe about. The front seats are well bolstered and padded in all the right places. The heat and cool functions worked well and the padded armrests on both the doors and center armrest were welcome places to prop against.

Room for rear seat passengers is competitive in this category, and I had no problem sitting behind the driver’s seat set to my liking. Room for cargo in also impressive, with a good sized cargo area available in front of the power-operated tailgate. Drop the rear seats down 60/40 style, and the MKC offers room for a trip to IKEA.

Powertrain

2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Drivetrain Test drive
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The EcoBoost moniker has been pushed throughout FoMoCo’s umbrella of vehicles, and the MKC is no exception. The base engine is the familiar 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that makes a respectable 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.

While the MKC’s version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost may be down 20 horsepower from the Mustang’s EcoBoost, the crossover enjoys an extra five pound-feet of torque over the ‘Stang.

The optional engine – and the one powering my well-equipped tester – is the newer 2.3-liter EcoBoost. This turbo four offers up a surprising 285 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 305 pound-feet of torque at 2,750 rpm. That’s impressive numbers for such a small package.

While the MKC’s version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost may be down 20 horsepower from the Mustang’s EcoBoost, the crossover enjoys an extra five pound-feet of torque over the ‘Stang. That’s still enough power to push this 4,000-pound hulk to 60 mph in roughly 6.5 seconds – only a second behind the Mustang. Impressive indeed

The transversely mounted engine is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission that works hard to keep the EcoBoost in its power band when hard on the gas. When not carving canyons, the tranny does a good job a shifting smoothly and keeping engine revs down. The AWD system diverts power to the rear wheels when the extra traction is needed.

The EPA rates the 2.3-liter EcoBoost and AWD-equipped MKC at 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. That’s not too shabby considering the power levels emanating from this forced-fed four.

Driving Impressions

2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Interior Test drive
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The first thing you notice when sliding into the driver’s seat is the open feel of the cabin and the good view of the outside. Quick adjustments to the power-operated seat and steering column offer a good seating position and feel of the leather-wrapped wheel. The start button and gear shift buttons take some getting used to, but work fine. The black gauges with white markings offer a clean, easy view of vehicle information.

On the road, the tall view outside does not transfer into a tall-riding feel – never did the MKC feel top heavy or unbalanced. The steering, on the other hand, is on the lighter side and feels disconnected from the wheels. The throttle is linear and without tip-in while the brake petal offers smooth travel and easy operation.

Body roll is well managed in day-to-day driving, and the compact size of the MKC lends itself to nimble driving. All around, the Lincoln provides a smooth ride and a quiet cabin with decent driving dynamics that most owners will be happy with.

Safety

2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Exterior Test drive
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the MKC at five out of five stars for driver safety in a frontal crash. Front passenger safety comes in at four stars. Rollover risk is also rated at four stars. The NHTSA’s overall rating of the MKC is again four stars.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the MKC its best rating of “good” for both the moderate front overlap and side crash tests.

Price

2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Emblems and Logo Exterior Test drive
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The 2015 MKC has a base starting price of $33,260. That includes the 2.0-liter EcoBoost and FWD, along with standard leather seating, power everything and 18-inch wheels. My tester belongs to the Black Label club, meaning it offers higher-level content and features. With the 2.3-liter EcoBoost and AWD selected, the base price for my tester came in at $48,700 before options.

Options on my tester include the Chroma Couture premium paint ($1,750), the 2.3-liter EcoBoost ($1,140), THX audio system ($995), 20-inch wheels ($1,145), the Climate Package ($580), and the Technology Package ($2,295). Add to that the $895 destination fee, and the total price comes to $57,500.

That’s a hunk of change for a compact crossover.

Competition

2013 BMW X1

2013 BMW X1 High Resolution Exterior
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The BMW X1 might have the blue and white roundel on its hood, but this crossover borders on the line of “cute ‘ute,” at least for me. Sure, its swanky BMW looks tie it to the well-known luxury brand, but the X1 doesn’t exude the same type of mature luxury as the MKC. Still, the X1 is a solid choice in the market.

The X1 comes powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That’s dramatically less than the Lincoln’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost, but the BMW still manages to post a 0-to-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds. Prices start at $34,800 and grow with added options.

Read our full review here.

2015 Lexus NX

2015 Lexus NX High Resolution Exterior
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In a similar David and Goliath story as Cadillac’s decades-long rollercoaster, Toyota’s luxury brand grew from rebadged Camrys to what the brand is today. Its newest compact crossover, the NX, combines the futuristic yet funky design of the Spindle Grille with a “floating roof” and ultra modern accents.

Inside, the NX offers the familiar controls and design elements found in other Lexus products, but with its own spin. The crossover also offers a bevy of powertrain choices, including a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with a hybrid drive. FWD and AWD are offered with both engines.

Prices start at $34,480 for the NX200t. Prices rise with F Sport editions, AWD, and the hybrid model.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

2015 Lincoln MKC - Driven Exterior Test drive
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The Lincoln MKC might not be the most exciting new vehicle for 2015, but it’s doing a great job at reviving the Lincoln brand and offering desirable content wrapped in an attractive package, which should draw customers. Lincoln’s move to reinvent and rebrand itself will be a long process, but with the right products the task will be easier. If Lincoln keeps this direction of differentiating its vehicles from Ford’s and investing in clever marketing, we could see an honest revival. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Cadillac was a laughable brand whose notion of luxury was fat sedans with problematic V-8s powering the front wheels. Now look at it.

With the Continental flagship on its way and investments from Ford, hopefully the Lincoln brand will enjoy the same resurgence found by Cadillac.

  • Leave it
    • Polarizing grille design
    • A few low-grade interior materials
    • Expensive
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