Lincoln’s MKC stands out among smaller SUV/CUV offerings
When gasoline prices were going through the roof, Lincoln elected to introduce a smaller sport utility vehicle/crossover to meet the needs of people who wanted the space of an SUV/CUV but not the rampant fuel use. With the Escape CUV firmly rooted in the Ford family, Lincoln borrowed that chassis, gave it a thorough going-through, freshening and adding the luxury touches that made MKC worthy of the Lincoln nameplate.
A gorgeous Ruby Red metallic 2015 Lincoln MKC AWD unit awaited us for a trip to Orlando and then on to St. Petersburg, Florida for the first Verizon IndyCar Series race of the 2015 season. With its charcoal and white sand interior, the Lincoln presented a posh package for our near-week together. We grappled with traffic heading south from Orlando, landing near rush-hour time and watched the multitude of cars spill out to Disneyland and similar attractions as we examined the innards of this new machine.
Then it was hammer-down time and the direct-injected 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four cylinder engine reacted joyfully, stretching its turbocharged 285 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, together with 305 lb-ft of torque at a usable 2,750. Redline calls at a stout 6,500 rpm on this machine, which has both temperature and fuel gauges enclosed in the tachometer and speedometer, together with trip computer and radio read-outs. A six-speed, paddle-shifted automatic transmission gets the entire enterprise moving nicely whether the accelerator is pounded or treated smoothly. Gearing is excellent over the road.
All-independent suspension is compliant but not mushy and the all-wheel disc brakes aren’t noticeable as they work superbly. The electric power-assisted steering is, like most of its ilk, a wee bit on the sloppy side but most folks won’t notice that. With a rather heavy base weight of 3,963 pounds, the all-wheel-drive Lincoln MKC is a bit less frugal than I’d like, rated at 18/26/21 from its smallish 15.5-gallon tank; those numbers are real-world but I never came close to 26-mpg over the road and tried to drive in a smooth fashion throughout this voyage. I used regular unleaded every time I refilled.
There were lots of options on this Lincoln that pushed its entry fee (including freight) of $36,490 to a whopping $49,865. What were the additions? An equipment group 102A included folding, heated mirrors, a lovely panorama vista moonroof, navigation with voice recognition, cross-traffic alerts, heated and cooled front seats, configurable daytime LED running lights and hands-free ljftgate (handy when you’re carrying camera and computer bags – and herding a small dog).
In addition, Lincoln charges for the beautiful paint, for the uprated engine (a 2L 4-cylinder is standard on MKC), for the enhanced THX audio system, for a technology package of “nannies” that included active park assist, forward sensing system, active cruise control and lane keeping system. There was also a climate package that offered a heated steering wheel and a fee for windmill-style painted aluminum wheels that rode on 255/40R-20” Pirelli tires.
That’s a load of options, many of which would be better served as standard equipment. Making these various products standard would allow Lincoln to keep the pricing about the same and give the MKC an illusion of having more value straight from the gate. A la carte systems of this type are best suited to companies like Porsche and BMW, who have made an art out of charging for nebulous items.
Living with the 2015 Lincoln MKC AWD was very easy. It has a true proximity key and beautiful courtesy lights both outside and inside the cabin. The cabin interior is clean, crisp and to the point. With one-touch windows all around, that one-touch sunroof and sublime elegance in the black and white sand environment it’s easy to see why customers find this SUV a worthwhile purchase. It got many looks inside and out, particularly in upscale neighborhoods.
MKC is ready for the technocrats with outlets everywhere: covered storage at the base of the central stack has a single 12-volt plug, plus auxiliary, SD card slot and two USB plugs. A deep bi-level storage compartment, very nicely finished in upscale carpet has another 12-volt plug.
Rear seat passengers have air flow and heated seats; with cupholders in all four doors, there’s also the obligatory fold-down armrest with more space to hold coffees and/or waters. There are also two seatback pockets to contain whatever extra one’s brought along. All five seats are extremely comfortable and the front seat passengers each have power settings with three memories for the driver. The steering wheel has trip information on both left and right spokes, while the adaptive cruise control is on the left with audio and phone on the right. I tried several times to pair my iPhone6 but never could. Ford and Lincoln’s Sync system still doesn’t cut it.
The navigation screen is large and easy to work; there’s a remote button for the power hatch at the lower left of the dash. Like so many vehicles with advanced electronics, there are red lights that appear on the windscreen when you get too close to the car in front – not good for drafting – but that’s what “nannies” do. I liked the shaded hatch, which also has nets and two small holding spaces in the fender wells. There is a spare tire and the rear seats fold to increase the hatch space from its initial 25.2 cubic feet to a home-improvement store loving 53.1 cubic feet.
I’m still having a hard time wrapping my hands around pushbutton transmissions, even though I remember them vaguely from the late 1960s cars. In this instance one shifts gears on the central stack rather than the floor; paddles can be activated once underway. After a couple of tries shifting my water bottle, I got used to this but it still wasn’t the most intuitive solution, even though start/stop activation lies directly above the shift pushbuttons.
After about 450 miles on this Florida trip, I returned the 2015 Lincoln MKC with a smile for the good times we had thrashing to and from the racetrack, to and from the airport, doing the same things everyday people do in everyday situations. I especially like the HD radio, the satellite radio and navigation system, the very quiet interior, good handling of this SUV/CUV, rain sensing wipers and the lovely LED running lamps.
This made-in-Louisville, KY machine brought a smile to my face on approach every time and I certainly enjoyed the performance of this vehicle – readily achieved without a big engine. While I wish it got better fuel mileage, with under 4,000 miles on the odometer, I don’t doubt it’ll do better as it breaks in.
There are so many luxury sport utility/crossover vehicles available in the United States these days that it’s often hard to make a choice. The Lincoln MKC, particularly in this choice of colors, makes the decision even more difficult. It’s definitely worth a second – or third – look.
Words and Photos by Anne Proffit