The Car Connection Lincoln MKC Overview
The Lincoln MKC is the Ford luxury brand's entry in the burgeoning compact crossover class.
With the MKC, which was released for the 2015 model year, Lincoln has filled out its lineup of SUVs. It's the smallest of a family of utility vehicles that includes the MKX, the MKT, and the Navigator.
Though it's based on the Ford Escape, the MKC has distinctive styling, a more stylish interior, a push-button transmission, and an engine lineup including the Mustang's powerful, turbocharged 4-cylinder that's not offered in the less expensive Escape.
The five-seat MKC faces tough competition from the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Acura RDX, among many others.
MORE: Read our 2017 Lincoln MKC review
On the outside, the MKC's pretty exterior theme wears a version of the split-wing grill that Lincoln is beginning to move away from, and the rear may be the most interesting angle, with its full-width taillights. Lincoln's new MKX follows the MKC's lead with a very similar design that has basically just been upsized to fit its larger body.
The MKC shares the Escape's electric power steering and its basic suspension, but the Lincoln crossover can be equipped with a set of adaptive dampers that drivers can set in comfort, sport, or normal modes for a more finely tuned ride. The MKC comes with 18-inch wheels, while 19- and 20-inchers are optional.
The MKC's base powertrain is the same 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that's optional in the Escape; it can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. The upgrade engine is a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 with 275 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque; it is offered only with all-wheel drive. This is the same engine offered in the Ford Mustang as well as some future Ford and Lincoln products.
Inside, there's nearly the same interior space as in the snug-fitting Ford crossover. The sensation of space is greater in the Lincoln, however, thanks to its different console design. It passes on a conventional shift lever, opting instead for buttons located on the left side of the center stack to activate the transmission. Leather and wood trim are available.
Split-folding and reclining back seats are standard in the MKC, though rear seat space is tight. An available version of the power tailgate can be opened with the wave of a foot under the rear bumper, as long as the foot waver has the key fob on their person.
The MKC doesn't perform very well in crash tests. In NHTSA testing, the MKC earns four stars out of five overall, while most competitors get five. The MKC has not been fully tested by the IIHS, but it scores "Good" ratings in the side and moderate front overlap tests. Unfortunately, the Escape upon which it is based scored "Poor" in the tough small front overlap test. The MKC's optional front crash prevention system earns a "Basic" nod from the IIHS.
At least the MKC's safety features are up to snuff. It comes standard with a driver's knee airbag and a rearview camera. Blind spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts are standard on higher line models and buyers can get a Technology package with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, Active Park Assist with Park Out Assist, and a forward collision warning system with brake support.
Other tech features on the MKC include Bluetooth with audio streaming; proximity illumination--the mirrors cast light on the ground when the car's keyfob is detected nearby; and an embedded data service that links with a smartphone app to provide services like remote unlocking, fuel-level checks, and pre-setting of climate controls. When it launched the MKC also came with the much maligned MyLincoln Touch infotainment system. Starting for the 2016 model year, Lincoln switched over to Sync 3, which appears much easier to use. It includes a capacitive touchscreen, voice controls, access to apps on owners' smartphones, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
Along with the MKZ sedan and MKX, the MKC is offered as part of Lincoln's Black Label program. It is the top model in the lineup, which also includes Premiere, Select, and Reserve models. Black Label buyers get a "curated" palette of colors and trim options, using finer trimmings and offered in a handful of design themes, as well as a host of special extras, including in-home ordering and an annual detail of their vehicle.
In addition to the switch over to Sync 3, the 2016 MKC received some new color options inside and out and a Climate package with a windshield wiper de-icer. A power liftgate was added to the Select model, and the towing capacity improved from 2,000 to 3,000 pounds for the 2.3-liter engine equipped with the Trailer Tow package. Oddly, the 2.0 had already been rated to tow up to 3,000 pounds.
For 2017, the power liftgate becomes standard, as does an auto hold feature that keeps the vehicle in place at a stop without the driver's foot on the brake. The 2.0-liter engine also gets automatic stop/start standard with front-wheel drive and optional with AWD.