2015/16 Lincoln MKC Review by Carey Russ +VIDEO
Dynamic styling and efficient power make the Lincoln MKC an interesting competitor in the premium small crossover segment
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS
It's hard to be a luxury brand. Think of Lincoln, for example. You didn't, did you?
Lincoln would like to change that. And changing demographics of the luxury car market demand that Lincoln must change to survive. Cars that appealed to your grandparents, even if you are now a grandparent, are no longer attractive. But a manufacturer also can't just cut off their old customer base. Some sort of compromise is necessary, but a poorly-executed compromise can alienate existing customers without interesting new ones.
One major criticism of Lincoln is that Lincolns, at least in the past decades, have merely been fancy Fords. True, but also true of competitors who are likewise part of a larger and broader-based corporate structure than those who merely make luxury automobiles. The same criticism has been made of Cadillac and Audi, to name two obvious and successful competitors. But while both still share plenty of parts under the skin with their more middle-class corporate brethren, both have moved ever further away from those "lesser" vehicles in design and implementation.
Lincoln, not so much. Yet…
The newest Lincoln, the MKC premium compact crossover, looks to signal a new direction for Ford's upscale brand. While it utilizes the same basic chassis structure as the Ford Escape, the two share no body panels, and no major interior bits. The MKC is about an in lower, longer, and wider than its cousin, with similar interior volume. The MKC's base engine is the 240-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that is the Escape's premium offering, with a 285-hp 2.3-liter variant optional. With the 2.0-liter engine, front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive optional. 2.3 means AWD only. Power gets to the wheels through a six-speed transmission, and with AWD come continuously-controlled damping for the suspension. Most all of the expected contemporary electronic comfort, convenience, and safety features are either standard or available
My test version was a high-mileage 2015 model with the 2.3-liter engine. Press fleet vehicles often are turned in long before they reach 10,000 miles. This one had over 13,000 "not my car" miles on the odometer -- and was still solid and rattle-free. With nearly $13,000 worth of options it was comprehensively-equipped and comfortable. Its conveniently compact size made it easy to maneuver and park even without using the Active Park Assist system to get into and now out of tight parallel parking spots. Power, unsurprisingly, was never an issue, and the multiple suspension and drivetrain modes almost gave it multiple personalities -- soft, soft, cushy, and comfortable for the Lincoln traditionalist, moderation in all things for most of the people most of the time, and sport-firm and quick to compare with the Europeans. Making this a Lincoln that could appeal to everyone from your grandparents to your children (providing they're old enough to drive).
2016 Changes: Few changes are expected for a new vehicle's second year. For the MKC, the SYNC connectivity system has been further upgraded, a power liftgate is more widely available, towing capacity has been increased to 3,000 pounds with the towing package, the Climate Package includes a wiper de-icer, and there are new color choices.
APPEARANCE: Kudos to Lincoln. The MKC is instantly-recognizable thanks to the broad chrome wings of the grille. Which integrates the HID headlamps, and features the company logo in its central pillar. It looks not at all like a Ford Escape, sitting lower on its suspension, and with a lower roofline and wider stance. The sculpted hood and strong shoulder line give it character, and matte-plastic trim surround the lower perimeter through the wheel arches shows the expected "SUV" look and adds protection against minor parking lot scuffs. The metallic-look front "skid plate" is less that than for underbody aerodynamic management for improved fuel economy and quiet at speed. The MKC's side window curve down at the rear pillar for a coupe-like look; the Escape's curve up. At the rear, full-width LED taillights give it Lincoln presence as surely as the front grille.
COMFORT: Walk up to the MKC with the fob in your pocket when light is low and the Approach Detection system turns on lights that illuminate the ground by the front doors and the door handle pockets. Get in, and welcome to leather and wood luxury. The wood trim is not encased in enough resin to be plastic, and actually looks and feels like wood. Dark, textured soft-touch materials are used for the upper surfaces of the instrument panel and doors, and help keep glare at bay. Bright electroluminescent instruments are easily visible in all lighting, with a convenient information display between the tach and speedometer. Information, audio, cruise, and phone controls are on the steering wheel. Which is tilt- and reach-adjustable and has a thick leather rim. Here, 10-way adjustable front seats with both heat and cooling for the cushion provide the expected comfort and support. Phone, navigation, climate control, and entertainment systems are accessed through the MyLincolnTouch screen at the top of the center stack. There's a learning curve but not too bad, and analog controls for audio and climate systems are found further down the stack. Audio is AM, FM, and Sirius/XM radio, jack and USB, and CD, plus bluetooth streaming. Look for the shifter on the console, and draw a blank. Look to the left of the screen on the stack and there are some buttons, marked (from top) P, R, N, D, and S. I've got to wonder how many people have turned the wipers on trying to shift for the first time… Rear-seat room is typical for a small crossover, best for two kids or small adults. They get the best view out of the Vista Roof® panoramic sunroof, the front of which tilts and slides. Outboard cushions here are heatable. A 60/40 seatback adds the expected crossover versatility, and a shade hides cargo when the seat is in passenger position. A swipe of your foot under the rear opens or closes the tailgate, useful with hands full of stuff.
SAFETY: Before being offered for sale, the MKC was crash-tested 5,000 times in computer simulation and real-world tests. Its sturdy, rigid unibody structure incorporates controlled-deformation crumple zones to protect passengers. A full suite of airbags, including driver's knee, strong four-wheel antilock disc brakes and the AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control™ systems and the Personal Safety System™ further protect. Systems including blind-spot information with cross-traffic, lane-keeping assist,
RIDE AND HANDLING: Lincoln Drive Control is the secret to the MKC's ability to please wildly divergent tastes in vehicle dynamics. Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) utilizes electronic sensors and actuators to adjust damping quickly, and as desired. There are three modes, normal, comfort, and sport. Comfort give maximum softness, like your late great-uncle's 1970s Continental, but with very good damping control so no pogoing. Dramamine not required. I used this setting when giving a friend a ride home from the hospital after neck surgery. It was appreciated. Normal is moderate, in the contemporary European manner, with a good balance between comfort and control. Sport is what it says, firm for minimum weight transfer when utilizing the turbo on an appropriate road. Sporty Lincoln crossover? Like this, yes.
PERFORMANCE: This is a different sort of hot-rod Lincoln, not the raucous V8 of song but a contemporary high-tech turbo. Direct fuel injection allows a high compression ratio even with turbocharger boost, for maximum efficiency -- getting the most energy out of a given amount of fuel. Which means power and fuel economy. Lightweight construction, design expressly for turbocharging, and sturdy internals allow it to make 285 horsepower at 5500 rpm, with torque peaking at a healthy 305 lb-ft at a low 2750 rpm. And plenty from right off idle. If you're wondering why a turbo engine would be considered for improved fuel economy, the turbo, and additional fuel required by its use, only works under acceleration. At steady speeds, as on the highway, fuel consumption is more like that of a similarly-sized naturally-aspirated engine, not the larger one suggested by the maximum horsepower. Or 2.3 liters versus 3.5 or more… More use of the turbo will mean lower mileage. Given the strong torque, the six-speed automatic does its job very well in D. Manual shifting is accomplished by the paddles behind the horizontal steering wheel spokes. Changing mode -- comfort, normal, or sport -- also changes shifting response and quickness, so the optimum for everyone's needs and tastes can be programmed. With a mix of driving biased toward backroads and city, and some highway, I got a 20 mpg average for my week. Long-term according to the computer was 21.5. EPA estimates are 18/26/21.
CONCLUSIONS: With dynamic styling and efficient power, the Lincoln MKC is an interesting competitor in the premium small crossover segment.
2015 Lincoln MKC AWD
Base Price $ 35,595
Price As Tested $ 49,265
Engine Type turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder with direct fuel injection and continuously- variable cam phasing
Engine Size 2.3 liters / 146 cu. in.
Horsepower 285 @ 5500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 305 @ 2750 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length 105.9 in. / 179.2 in.
Curb Weight 3989 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 14.0
Fuel Capacity 15.5 gal.
Fuel Requirement 91 octane unleaded premium gasoline for best performance. 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline permissible
Tires 245/45R19 98V m+s Michelin Latitude Tour HP
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, ABS, AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control™ standard
Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent multilink
Drivetrain transverse front engine, all-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 18 / 26 / 20
0 to 60 mph est 6.5 sec
OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Equipment Group 102A - includes: Reserve Equipment Group, dual power folding heated outside mirrors, panoramic vista roof, navigation with voice recognition, BLIS with Cros-Traffic Alert, heated and cooled front seats, configurable daytime running lights, hands-free liftgate $ 6,935
Smoked Quartz Metallic paint $ 495
2.3-liter EcoBoost engine $ 1,140
Enhanced THX Audio System $ 995
19-inch alloy wheels $ 395
Technology Package -- includes: Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control With Collision Warning, Forward Sensing System, Lane-Keeping System $ 2,235
Climate Package with heated steering wheel $ 580
Destination Charge $ 895