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2016 Lincoln MKC Review by Steve Purdy +VIDEO

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2016 Lincoln MKC

By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Lincoln promises lots of new products in the next couple years in a thrust to invigorate their image and to find a way back to becoming a truly premium brand with distinctive character. That’s going to be tough, but I think this new MKC is a big step in the right direction.

Many other reviewers agree. Last year when we first tested the MKC it earned the honor of being a finalist (one of three) in the prestigious North American Car and Truck of the Year awards program. This nomination means more than most because it comes from a large jury of independent U.S. and Canadian auto journalists and the project has no sponsors or other commercial connections that could muddy the decisions.

The only significant change for 2016 is Ford’s newest touchscreen interface, Sync 3.

The Lincoln MKC is a compact 5-passenger, front-wheel drive (or optional all-wheel drive) crossover that shares the Ford Escape platform. If we squint we might see some similarities but they share little beyond size, hard points and overall structure. The MKC exudes the character of a luxury vehicle in nearly all areas.

The MKC’s Styling breaks significant new ground. Following swoopy trends in the industry the MKC gets intense character lines along the side and plenty of aesthetic details that draw the eye in many directions. The Lincoln split-winged grille, evident on most of the brand’s models, dominates the front fascia with squinty headlight bezels with air scoops below into which LED accent lamps are set. The rear lift gate wraps exaggeratedly around the corners to accommodate taillights that spread horizontally from edge to edge for a dramatic look. The low roofline and broad stance make for a squat sporty look we don't usually see in a crossover. Dual chrome exhaust outlets integrated within the rear fascia add to the upscale luxury ambiance of exterior design.

Inside we find more swoopy, design-intensive character. Real wood inserts on the dash and doors eschew the super-polished look of the past in favor of a mat finish that actually looks like wood. Leather, faux leather, plastic and metal materials fit together nicely and communicate a decent level of class and elegance. The center stack slopes gently forward with the multipurpose touchscreen in the center for good ergonomics. Two conventional knobs control the radio. A generous cubby below the stack, made possible by the use of a vertical set of shift buttons on the driver’s side, houses auxiliary ports and the power outlet. The console-mounted shifter is gone.

We found the front seats surprisingly comfortable for such a diminutive vehicle. The rear seat, though, is a bit smaller than expected. The low roofline makes for a bit of restriction getting in and out and limits headroom, particularly with the panoramic sunroof. We have decent cargo capacity with 25.2 cubic-feet behind the rear seat and 53.1 cubic-feet with the seatbacks folded.

Two engines are available in the MKC, our test car’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost making 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet or torque or an optional 2.3-liter EcoBoost with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet. Both get the same six-speed manual transmission. The latter engine only comes with all-wheel drive.

Our 2.0-liter is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. The 2.3 is expected to get 18 and 26. Both use regular fuel. With a smallish 15.5-gallon fuel tank we have a cruising range somewhat below average. We drove to Chicago this week so most of our mileage was spent on the freeway and we managed just over 24 mpg.

Driving dynamics of the new MKC get good marks. We found the acceleration good with the 2.0 EcoBoost, well able to propel this nearly 4,000-pound car. (Of course, the 2.3 would be even better.) The conventionally designed suspension is firm and handling is crisp. Steering has plenty of feedback and feels almost sports car-like. The ride might be a little stiff if you’re plagued by rough roads on your daily drive. But if you regularly ply the twisties you’ll find the MKC well up to the challenge. And, it is admirably quiet inside even at extra-legal speeds on concrete roads.

Prices of the MKC range from $33,100 for a nicely equipped Premier 2.0-liter front-wheel drive model to just over $40,000 for the Reserve trim level with 2.3-liter EcoBoost and all-wheel drive.

Both the MKC and its mid-size sedan sibling MKZ are now available in “Black Label” versions that add a whole extra level of themed elegance to the interior and some special exterior colors and trims. That package changes nothing in powertrain or suspension and carries a $6,000 premium over the cost of the vehicle. Black Label also includes a special maintenance plan that features four years or 50,000 miles of typical wear items, anytime washes, and annual detailing and guaranteed loaner anytime the MKC is in the shop. Black Label shows a price of just about $50,000.

Lincoln’s warranty covers the MKC bumper to bumper for 4 years or 50,000 miles and the powertrain for 6 years or 70,000 miles.

The competition is stiff in the small, luxury crossover segment with the Audi Q5, BMW X1 and X3, Volvo XC60, Mercedes GLK, Infiniti QX50, Acura RDX and now the new Lexus NX. (Cadillac has no entry in this category since the SRX is substantially larger.) The Lincoln MKC fits will into the middle of this pack with prices and content better than some and trailing some. If you’re in this market serious research is called for and you can do it all here on The Auto Channel.

We recommend the MKC be on your list.

©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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