2015 Lincoln MKC Road Test

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2015 Lincoln MKC SUV

(2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo 6-speed Automatic)
  • 2015 Lincoln MKC

    2015 Lincoln MKC

    Lincoln design heritage is clear in the MKC's grille. | June 06, 2014

41 Photos

Quick Summary
As the latest entry into the hot small luxury SUV segment, the 2015 Lincoln MKC stands to add some much-needed exposure for the brand. Going heads-up with the class leaders in this highly competitive segment is a tall order, but after our initial drive it appears the new Lincoln has the hardware to hold its own.

What Is It?
The 2015 Lincoln MKC is a five-passenger compact luxury SUV. Though it shares its basic structure (and its wheelbase) with the Ford Escape, the MKC is 1 inch wider and 1.1 inches longer than the Ford. However, its biggest competitors, the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, both offer a wheelbase almost 5 inches longer: vital space in a segment where space is critically important.

Two engines are available: a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder EcoBoost good for 240 horsepower and a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder rated at 285 hp. Both are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual controls. All-wheel drive is standard with the larger engine and optional on the base 2.0-liter.

2015 Lincoln MKC

We drove the top-trim Reserve model, which is one of three trim levels: Premiere, Select and Reserve. The front-drive Premiere trim MKC powered by the 2.0-liter engine starts just below $35,000. Fully loaded versions like our tester will top out beyond $50,000.

How Does It Drive?
That the MKC handles well is hardly surprising given the benchmark vehicles it was developed against. Lincoln engineers utilized Audi's Q5, BMW's X3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLK throughout the MKC's development. The result is a well-damped chassis with more speed and control on hand than most drivers will ever use. Throw it into a corner and there are quick responses as well as meaningful feedback. Balance is quite good, and placing the small SUV on the road is easy.

Variable front and rear torque split from the all-wheel-drive system in combination with adjustable shocks allow the MKC to be both comfortable and capable. Active torque vectoring, which sends more power to the outside wheel for quicker cornering, is another reason the MKC has impressive balance.

Shift paddles on the steering wheel allow manual control of the gearbox, while basic Park, Drive and Reverse functions are handled by buttons along the main dashboard screen. There's also Lincoln's Drive Control system that changes the MKC's character from well-damped cruiser to sporty SUV. A Sport button on the dash toggles the steering weight, throttle calibration, transmission programming, dampers and even the active noise-cancellation system into modes appropriate for aggressive driving.

2015 Lincoln MKC

And it works. The MKC isn't ever soft but it's also never stiff. This is a solid example of tuning appropriate to the way small SUVs get used: well-damped comfort most of the time, coupled with solid response and control when you need it. Power from the 2.3 is more than adequate; there's a large wave of torque relatively early in the rev range, which makes taking the engine to redline unnecessary.

Forget about the Lincoln you think you know, because this isn't it.

How Safe Is It?
The MKC has boron in its front-most roof supports. That's the short way of saying those components of the SUV's body are among the strongest in its structure. It's the kind of engineering that Lincoln thinks will earn the MKC a five-star rating across the board from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration as well as a "Good" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: the highest available.

2015 Lincoln MKC

Seven airbags (including a driver's knee airbag) are standard, as is a rearview camera. Available features include a lane-keeping system, blind-spot monitor with cross-traffic alert as well as a collision warning system that alerts the driver of a potential accident ahead. A driver-alert system monitors driver attentiveness and issues an audible warning if it senses reduced alertness.

Adaptive cruise control, which maintains distance to the car in front up to the driver's preset speed, is also available.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Does It Deliver?
The EPA estimates the 2.3-liter all-wheel-drive MKC will yield 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway), which is identical to the combined fuel economy of the six-cylinder-powered all-wheel-drive Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

Efficiency improves with the smaller engine. Front-drive MKCs powered by the 2.0-liter engine earn an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway), while all-wheel-drive versions earn 22 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway).

How Comfortable Is It?
Stitched leather and wood inlays give the MKC character and quality in places where recent Lincolns had neither. New seat leather from Scottish supplier Bridge of Weir and a new thick-rimmed steering wheel give the cabin a modern feel and design. Polished accent trim on the dash adds flourish but will occasionally create distracting reflections.

2015 Lincoln MKC

The front seats initially feel awfully soft, but we found them amply comfortable after several multi-hour stints. Their covering (called, appropriately enough, Deepsoft leather) is sourced from northern European cattle according to Lincoln. Why is that better? We're not sure, but it does sound exotic, doesn't it?

Rear-seat comfort is tied directly to the position of the front seats. Rear-seat legroom is significantly compromised when seated behind a passenger taller than 6 feet. This is probably the MKC's biggest downside relative to its roomier competitors, which have more room between their wheels for passengers and cargo.

Heated front seats are standard across the line. Heated rear seats are available with the Climate package, and the Reserve trim level adds cooled front seats.

Though the MKC's rear seats don't fold completely flat, they're close enough to not inhibit hauling large cargo. Cargo space behind the second row is 25.2 cubic feet: a few cubic feet less than the BMW X3 and Acura RDX.

What Tech Does It Offer?
Lincoln is far from the first carmaker to create an app with which owners can communicate with their car, but it is the first to offer scheduled start times using an app. Additionally, the MyLincoln Touch app allows remote locking and unlocking, engine starting and help finding the MKC via GPS.

The Active Park Assist feature is available to handle steering duties during parallel parking. It's a feature also available on the Escape. On the MKC, however, it adds Park Out Assist, which oversees steering when exiting a tight parallel parking space. We used both and found them practical and intuitive. Though these features will be lost on those who possess the skills, their presence is invaluable for others.

2015 Lincoln MKC

Voice-activated control of phone, audio, ventilation and the navigation system (optional) is standard via Sync. MyLincoln Touch isn't our favorite infotainment interface, but it is significantly improved over the original version.

An optional 14-speaker THX audio system is available to replace the standard nine-speaker system. Also standard on every MKC are two USB ports, an SD card reader, an auxiliary jack and RCA input jacks.

What Are Its Closest Competitors?
It is Lincoln's intent to win buyers from the big players in the compact luxury SUV segment. That means it will need to face down BMW's X3 and its smaller X1 counterpart — both of which are primary contenders.

Perhaps an even bigger challenger is the Audi Q5, which offers a well-rounded list of assets including what's probably the best-finished cabin in the class, good fuel economy and strong driving dynamics.

2015 Lincoln MKC

Acura's RDX, though fairly Spartan, also offers a large cargo area and a solid powertrain.

Why Should You Consider This Car?
In addition to offering a long list of standard and available features, optional all-wheel drive and two engine choices, the MKC's starting price is the lowest in the segment. Dynamically, it plays in the same arena as the class leaders and its interior gives up very little, if anything, to those SUVs in terms of finish. The biggest battle Lincoln is fighting with the MKC isn't quality or driving experience. It's image.

Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
Having 5 fewer inches between its wheels than the class leaders hurts the MKC's rear legroom and, to a lesser extent, its cargo space. If you regularly need to carry four large adults there are better choices, many of which are midsize SUVs.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

Comments

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Why is it that the captions at the top of the articles always reflect the base engine for the vehicle being tested regardless of the engine actually tested? And what is with these half-assed "road tests?" A road test doesn't necessarily have as much data as a track test, but I certainly expect more info about the actual driving experience besides a vague reference to how well the suspension works and seat comfort. Where are impressions about the engine (this is the first "review" I have read with the 2.3) and how it compares on the 'seat dyno' to the 2.0. Where is actual fuel economy, I can get the EPA estimates from the Lincoln website. Where is some commentary on why someone would want to buy this vs the Escape. 90% of the info here I could get from Lincoln's website.

  • mrryte mrryte Posts:

    "Fully loaded versions like our tester will top out beyond $50,000." My how quickly Lincoln forgets (remember the Aviator?) A rebadged Escape with no V6 offered is a recipe for a sales flop.

  • g35buf g35buf Posts:

    I thought a $39k VW Tiguan SEL was crazy BUT I guess not vs a $50k Ford Escape. Saw a Canadian production model on the road Friday...Looked good but $50k for a gussied up Escape? No thank you...this will be a tough sell unless they can sell around the Escape factor...GM hasn't been able to fool enough people on the Caddy SRX (gussied up Equinox)...

  • kokomojoe kokomojoe Posts:

    It's a fat ugly Ford. Dose not live up to Lincoln in any way shape or form. Ford has created the new Mercury in the Lincoln brand at best luxury is not something you get in Lincoln.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    This model is visually recognizable as an Escape from nearly every angle. What would persuade buyers to pay more for this than a well optioned Escape? Certainly not the confusingly named trim levels Premier, Select, and Reserve. (Are these used with any other model yet? I pretty much never see a Lincoln on the road in California nowadays so I can't be sure.)

  • autopal autopal Posts:

    I'm no Lincoln apologist, but this is no closer to the Ford Escape than the RDX is to the CR-V, or Venza, or Rav4 is to the Lexus RX, or the Q5 is to the Tiguan, or the Nissan Rogue is to the Infiniti EX. Unless you go for BMW or Benz (they don't have a mainstream brand to share) then the comments about this Lincoln being a Ford Escape is unfair. Does people realise that the Lexus ES 350 is essentially a loaded Camry? I guess what i'm saying is, all manufacturers share platform accross different models, nothing new and terrible if this car is related to the Escape. Infiniti G37/Q50 is just a Nissan Skyline in Japan.

  • The Lexus NX coming this fall will be a bigger hit than this. And it comes after everyone else has shown their cards. It ultra-aggressive style will bring new buyers to Lexus, and don't be surprised if it becomes the #1 seller in the class. Offering the only hybrid in the class, with about 35 MPG, won't hurt either

  • throwback throwback Posts:

    I see very little Escape in this vehicle. I saw this car at the NY Show and you have to look awfully hard to see any Ford in this car. The interior is very well done and the external panels are different. Lincoln's biggest problem is getting on the shopping list for potential buyers. Marketing has there work cut out for them.

  • gregg_vw gregg_vw Posts:

    This does not directly compete with the X3 and Q5. Those are larger vehicles, more akin to the MKX. Audi's Q3 when it gets here is the same size class (e.g. sharing architecture with Tiguan). Acura RDX is a direct competitor

  • berri berri Posts:

    Lincoln does seem to be upgrading their newer vehicles a bit and I think the MKC is more differentiated from the Escape than some of their past models. But the big question comes to whether the Escape chassis really is capable of luxury class. I guess time will tell. I think that in the US, lux is primarily MB, BMW and Lexus to most consumers. So Lincoln, and Caddy too for that matter, has to provide products that swing for the fences. The domestics in this segment lost their cachet some time ago. Caddy is much further along that Lincoln, but I'm not sure it is there yet either. Kenny Rogers sang "know when to hold 'em and no when to fold 'em". How much is Ford willing to invest in Lincoln and is the payback really going to be worth it?

  • jerseyguy1 jerseyguy1 Posts:

    My local dealer let me have an MkC for a test drive. A very nice effort on Lincoln's part. Complain all you wish about it being a rebadged Escape or how BMW or Audi is going to beat it to death. It is a solid, well put together vehicle that can serve as both a primary vehicle for a family as well as mom's grocery getter. Much more nimble than the MkX. I wish the 2.3 liter was available without having to go to AWD but the 2.0 and FWD works just fine unless you are in Colorado or some place that gets 100" of snow a year. Never been much of an SUV/crossover type but this one will make the short list once new vehicle time arrives. An added bonus is that my local Lincoln dealer is only about 4 miles from the house. No more 35 mile trips to the BMW, Porsche, Acura, Audi dealers or their prices.

  • berri berri Posts:

    The article shows they are selling around list right now. Give it 6 or 9 months and I think you'll see some promo discounts. But it does look like it may be a decent value (although I don't know what the "options" list looks like).

  • jeff8888 jeff8888 Posts:

    Had a chance to test drive a 2.0/awd MKC and thought very highly of it. Overall ride, handling, braking, acceleration and reduced NVH were all B+ or better -- strong effort from Lincoln. I don't think it needs the 2.3 but then again, there aren't any hills on the test drive loop. Looked much nicer standing next to it than in the pictures, which do not look bad. Agree with Edmunds that inside Lincoln could have gone with a nicer looking aluminum, brushed would have been better than the satin look. Otherwise, this is pretty close to a q5 inside and much better than the rdx. Living in HOU TX, Lincoln's cooled seats may have more appeal than up North and while we don't have snow, we do have very hard rains where awd is definitely a bonus. I'm moving to a small SUV from an '04 Expy EB (w/cooled seats!) and plan on getting a new ride early next year. Am also pretty sure that while the pricing may seem high today, it will likely go down in the next year. The other car I'll consider is the 2015 Edge which is based on the Fusion and will come with cooled seats in the Titanium package. Have looked at the rdx, escape titanium and q5 and would pick the mkc over any of them. The x3 will get a look and possibly the glk. May want to go diesel as well. This is as Edmunds writes, not a re-badged escape and a strong effort. It's also an American car which I will give extra credit toward, particularly Ford as we've had a '95 explorer EB and the 0'4 mentioned above with virtually no problems. Our other car is an '11 g37 journey so I'm not looking for a performance ride, just one that supports my sporting life with the occasional Lowes run but with upgraded creature comforts over the old expy -- looks like a strong contender to meet those needs.

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