The Lincoln MKC compact crossover debuted as a 2015 model and fares well when compared to new premium models, such as the Cadillac XT5.
The 2017 Lincoln MKC comes with more standard equipment than last year’s model, including a power liftgate and an automatic-hold function. Also, automatic stop/start is now standard with the 2.0-liter engine and front-wheel drive (optional with all-wheel drive) on 2017 Lincoln MKC models. Lincoln began replacing its troubled MyLincoln Touch infotainment with SYNC 3 during 2015. The newer voice-controlled system can connect to smartphone apps, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The luxurious cabin is pleasantly detailed. Back-seat space is tight, especially with the panoramic sunroof.
Underway, MKC delivers well-controlled handling and responsive steering. MKC offers a choice of strong engines, each able to deliver a quick, healthy dose of vitality just when it’s needed. Both engines are turbocharged four-cylinders and both work with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The base 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine comes with front-wheel drive. Producing 240 horsepower, it’s strong enough to move the MKC swiftly from a stop.
The more powerful 2.3-liter EcoBoost comes with all-wheel drive. Making 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque, it delivers brisk performance, with 0-60 mph acceleration in about seven seconds.
The Lincoln MKC is built on the same foundation as the Ford Escape.
Crash-test scores are nothing to boast about, though the MKC has an impressive list of available active-safety features. In testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the MKC got four stars overall and for frontal-impact, with five stars for side-impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the MKC a Good rating in moderate frontal overlap and side-impact crash-tests, but the more difficult small-overlap test has not yet been performed. (The closely-related Ford Escape got a Poor score.)
A rearview camera comes standard. Upper trim levels add blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. An optional Technology package includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, Active Park Assist with Park Out Assist, and forward collision warning.
Lincoln MKC comes in Premiere, Select, Reserve, and Black Label trim levels. All-wheel drive is available. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
MKC Premiere ($32,720) includes the 2.0-liter engine, rearview camera, heated power front seats and mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, pushbutton start and shift, power liftgate, nine-speaker audio, satellite radio, HID headlights, reverse sensors, SYNC 3, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
MKC Select ($35,720) upgrades with leather seating surfaces, power-folding mirrors, LED configurable daytime running lights, ambient lighting, a universal garage door opener, and a cargo cover. MKC Reserve ($39,485) gets the panoramic sunroof, navigation, hands-free power liftgate, heated/cooled front seats, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, embedded modem, and 110-volt outlet. Black Label ($45,475) comes with a choice of three interior themes, in one of three metallic body colors. Venetian leather seat upholstery, an Alcantara headliner, and 19-inch ebony-painted aluminum wheels are standard. Special perks include annual vehicle detailing. A Continuously Controlled Damping suspension is included on all except Premiere.
The 2.3-liter engine and all-wheel drive are optional.
Because they share a basic foundation, the Lincoln MKC has plenty in common with the Ford Escape. Viewed in profile, the similarities are evident. Peer more closely at the details, though, and the gracefully shaped Lincoln comes across as more enticing, even sensuous.
Lincoln’s version of the compact crossover has some sheetmetal of its own, and its roofline is an inch lower than the Ford Escape’s. Up front is a narrowed rendition of the split-wing grille that Lincoln has been using, coupled with HID headlights and LED accent lighting. At the rear, a clamshell-type liftgate helps gives the MKC a fresh, clean appearance, augmented by full-width taillights.
Filled with contrasting details, the Lincoln MKC interior looks fresh and airy, with an attractive, organic design.
Lincoln designers substituted pushbuttons for the traditional shift lever.
Centered on the dashboard is a large screen, providing infotainment via SYNC 3, which is easier to use than the old MyLincoln Touch setup. Thankfully, large knobs are used to adjust radio volume and tuning.
Front-seat occupants get roomy, comfortable accommodations, but the back seat is tight and cramped, especially for taller passengers. Cushioning lacks a luxury feel. If the MKC has a panoramic roof, six-footers can expect little head clearance.
Areas around the front and outboard rear occupants are padded with soft-touch materials. Top models get leather upholstery, and a vast panoramic roof that brightens the cabin.
In addition to strong turbocharged engines, the Lincoln MKC promises poised, confident handling. Steering is a high point, helping to deliver refined road behavior that compares favorable to a BMW X3. The Continuous Controlled Damping Suspension can yield a more responsive driving feel, or switch to a softer feel. The Sport setting is surprisingly firm for a Lincoln.
The MKC grips the pavement securely, leans little, and delivers subtly predictable steering. Lincoln Drive Control lets you program different characteristics: two steering-assist levels, two for performance, plus three suspension levels.
The MKC Premiere’s suspension is less impressive, with a bit less body control; but steering is similarly excellent.
Brakes on the MKC are tremendous: reassuring, devoid of touchiness, with a solid pedal feel.
The optional 2.3-liter engine produces rapid performance, with power to spare when passing or merging. Although the engine can become a bit coarse while accelerating, the cabin stays quiet.
Most models come with the 2.0-liter engine, which performs almost as strongly. Transmission downshifts can be a bit delayed, however.
Visibility is a sore spot. When parking, it’s hard to estimate the position of the vehicle’s corners. Lane-changing can be a challenge.
With front-wheel drive and the base 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine, the MKC is EPA-rated at 21/28 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. Add all-wheel drive and that estimate drops to 19/25 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined. With stop/start technology and the 2.0-liter, the Combined estimate improves by 1 mpg.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost comes only with all-wheel drive, EPA-rated at 18/25 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. Both engines include a grille-shutter system that limits airflow through the engine bay, aiding fuel economy. Still, approaching EPA estimates in real-world driving is a challenge.
Lincoln MKC delivers a strong set of features for its price. A Ford-based Lincoln does not have the image of true luxury, on the order of Audi or Lexus, but the MKC spells luxury throughout, with its premium fittings.
Driving impressions by Kirk Bell, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.