2015 Lincoln MKC Review – Competitive, but not compelling.

2015 Lincoln MKC Review

If you need more flexible space than a sedan can offer, but only enough seating surfaces for 5 bums, then the small crossover – this millennium’s station wagon – is the vehicle style of choice for you.

With the introduction of the MKC, Lincoln finally has one to sell you, and they’ve done a really good job of it on almost every front.

The looks

Source: The Lincoln Motor Company

The styling, while a little plain, has a couple stand-out styling cues that people will take note of. The front grill, which looks a little like a greying moustache, actually looks good on the MKC – hey, it can be Movember all year ’round, can’t it? The rear tail lights, which stretch right across the back also look smart, and take advantage of the huge clamshell rear hatch that allows the MKC to not have seams on the rear of the car.

The inside is beautiful.  Nice, premium details are all over, and in places you’ll both see and feel them.  The stereo volume knob, for example, feels like it’s actually metal, not painted plastic. It’s a subtle thing, but it really feels nice to the touch and fires all the right neurons in the luxuriousautomobilis area of your brain.  The instrument panel is a real highlight. Entirely digital, save for the speedometer and tachometer dial numbers, the display comes to life with drama and smoothly transforms from traditional needles to useful information displays when using the steering wheel’s plethora of buttons to engage the MKC’s bevy of features.

Source: The Lincoln Motor Company

Source: The Lincoln Motor Company

The center console, which houses the car’s large infotainment and climate controls, is nicely laid out with a good number of hard buttons and a large “MyLincoln Touch” system display dominating the stack.  Lincoln has done nothing to re-skin the MyFord Touch system to do duty as MyLincoln Touch. This is precisely the same system that inhabits my Ford Fiesta.  That’s not necessarily a knock against the Lincoln, however. Despite what I’ve read online, Ford’s Sync is very intuitive and effective – I have replaced almost every one of my old manual control habits with voice controls since I bought my Ford last year. The Lincoln MKC probably deserves a graphical re-skin of the system to set it apart from my Fiesta.

The drive

Source: The Lincoln Motor Company

Source: The Lincoln Motor Company

Hopping into the MKC and preparing to set off, you will spend some time trying to figure out where on earth the shift lever is.  At first you’ll rummage around near the cup holders.  Then you’ll remember this is a Lincoln, and go hunting for the big shifter stalk on the steering column. At which point you’ll find this “isn’t your grandfather’s Lincoln”, because the shifter isn’t there, either.  You’ll eventually find the shifter has been replaced with buttons on the dash. “Push button shifter! How novel!” is something people under 30 might say. Push button shifters were fairly mainstream as far back as the 1950s, just about the same time colour television started to roll out.  But the system, once you know where it is, works as it should, and frees up the space between the seats. My wife found it very easy to adapt to.  In fact, she felt the whole car was easy to adapt to.  And that is high praise from Alexandria.

Once rolling, the MKC is remarkably quiet, comfortable, and quick. As Alexandria pointed out, the beauty of the MKC lies in its ease of use. It’s a little taller, and a little wider than our daily driver, but maneuvering around town and parking it was effortless.  The higher-performance 2.3L Ecoboost turbo motor in our tester was excellent at both cruising and brisk acceleration. It sounded appropriately premium, too.  Some four cylinder engines can be tinny, and rough, but Lincoln has effectively hidden all that away and let only pleasant sounds reach your ears. It delivered less than stunning fuel economy, and took extra premium gas to get the claimed power figures (285 horse power with 93 octane gas) when it needed filling, too. In fairness, it was very cold during our week with the MKC, which has an adverse effect on fuel economy.

The comfort

The front seats are very comfortable, and are both heated and cooled. At 6 feet tall, I found the seat cushions a little short for my legs, but most seat cushions in cars are short for my legs. Seat extensions, like the ones I had in my old 2000 BMW would have been welcome in a premium car, however.

The rear seats are roomy, and heated.  My kids thought the rear heated seats were super swanky, even though they were in boosters and couldn’t feel the heat. The cargo area is large, and with the rear seats folded it provides great space for, um,  antiquing, or whatever it is that Lincoln buyers do. A ski pass-through was curiously missing here, which meant that the MKC was left behind on our trip to the ski hill. I think that might be a deal breaker, actually – because 4 people and their skis won’t fit unless you want a ski rack on the top of your car.

Source: The Lincoln Motor Company

Source: The Lincoln Motor Company

It was easy to access the rear cargo area, though, thanks to the Lincoln’s foot-activated hands-free liftgate (say that 5 times fast).  Swiping your foot under the rear bumper will open the rear hatch. It’s magical, actually. Hands full of groceries? No need to put them down to dig your key out anymore. A word of caution for prospective purchasers: if you decide to opt for the available trailer hitch, you will inevitably nail your shins on the hitch trying to get the lift gate open. Just sayin’.

The verdict

Competitive, but not compelling.

The MKC is a good, comfortable crossover, with terrific technology, and a lot of nice touches.  It manages to differentiate itself from its lower cost cousin, the Ford Escape, despite an identical wheelbase and nearly identical track. But still, it doesn’t feel special enough.  To me, even fully optioned out ($52,895), our tester didn’t deliver the driving dynamics needed to entice driving enthusiasts away from German brands, or a price point low enough to make anti-domestic car buyers consider the move. On the other hand, if the bottom spec MKC ($39,440) gets too cheap, it may steal sales away from the fully loaded Ford Escape ($36,249). And for that reason, I think MKC will have its work cut out for it.  It’s good, and definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for a luxury CUV, but I’m not sure it’s good enough to pull you away from the established players.

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