2018 Audi Q5 vs. 2017 Lincoln MKC: Compare Cars

December 6, 2016
2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

The Audi Q5 and Lincoln MKC are luxurious compact crossover SUVs. Both take to the middle ground in a segment now spanning myriad entries—it's rife with vehicles from the Lexus NX, to the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.

Between these two, the Audi Q5 is the winner, although the MKC is far more competitive than its reputation might suggest thanks in part to its more expressive styling and lower price point. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

It was the Audi Q5 that arguably forged that mainstream track, from the instant it arrived on these shores about five years ago; ever since, it’s been a benchmark for the class. Meanwhile, the Lincoln MKC was introduced for 2015, giving the brand a foothold on what’s become an essential part of the luxury market. An all-new Q5 has arrived for the 2018 model year.

Although the Q5 might not stand out from a design standpoint quite the way it did when it was originally introduced since the latest is a mere evolution of the original design, it’s still a standout with respect to styling, materials, and trims. The Lincoln MKC takes a strong direction of its own that’s cohesive yet not quite head-turning on the outside; all the while, though, it’s nearly up to snuff with the Audi in trims and switchgear inside.

MORE: Read our 2018 Audi Q5 and 2017 Lincoln MKC reviews

In performance, the two models aren’t nearly as close—although we sure wouldn’t discount the MKC as forgetting about driving enjoyment. It’s just that the Q5 offers strong, gutsy, and refined performance in its base 2.0-liter turbo-4 setup and a better ride quality.

2018 Audi Q5

2018 Audi Q5

2018 Audi Q5

2018 Audi Q5

2018 Audi Q5

2018 Audi Q5

2018 Audi Q5

2018 Audi Q5

For 2018, the Q5 is only available with a turbocharged 4-cylinder, but a V-6 model badged SQ5 will return soon. The Q5 once again sports a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder as its base engine, but it has been upgraded to the automaker's latest unit. Nearly the same engine that also powers the larger Q7, the engine works well in this smaller application. It's mated exclusively to a 7-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive, which now disconnects the driveshaft going to the rear wheels to save fuel in most situations. Unlike rivals, however, Audi's system spins up in a fraction of a second to apportion power rearward when needed, and it can sense when a driver is beginning to encounter adverse conditions that require a little extra traction. 

There’s no V-6 on offer in the MKC, but you won’t miss it. The Lincoln does offer two strong turbo 4-cylinder engines—a 2.0-liter making 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet, or a 2.3-liter making 285 hp and 305 lb-ft. The latter has a twin-scroll setup, and its throttle response is impressively prompt.

Both the Q5 and MKC include excellent automatic transmissions (7-speed in the Audi, 6-speed in the Lincoln); with the MKC you have a choice between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, while all Q5 models include all-wheel drive (badged quattro).

Handling between the two is also closer than you might think. The Q5 has the better ride and handling characteristics of the two at the base-model level, but step up to the higher-trim MKC and opt for the continuous controlled damping suspension and you get both a more refined ride and sharper handling, with steering that’s unexpectedly sporty. The Q5, meanwhile, is composed and predictable, but not entertaining. 

2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

In interior comfort and packaging, the Q5 wins, because of its excellent seating and more of a luxury-vehicle ambiance throughout. Both models have rich finishes and tight assembly quality, but the MKC’s back seat is a bit  disappointing. With the available panoramic roof, back-seat headroom is especially tight in the MKC. While back seats flip forward easily in the MKC, we’d rate the Q5’s setup higher because it manages more comfortable and spacious back seats without being any less useful for cargo.

In safety, neither of these models offer a complete picture, as they have good but incomplete sets of crash-test results. But both make amends, somewhat, with standout safety features. For the Q5, that’s its available rear-seat side airbags and standard automatic emergency braking and for the MKC it’s a technology package that brings a slew of active-safety items like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, active park assist at a low price point.

Both of these crossovers are well-equipped luxury models, and they include excellent sound systems plus supple leather upholstery and many other comfort items. The Lincoln actually can be equipped with heated-and-cooled front seats, a hands-free tailgate, and a huge dual-pane moonroof, with totals running thousands less than a top Q5. The Q5 and its MMI infotainment system and interface feel undeniably a step ahead in today’s connectivity-critical market, especially when paired to the optional Virtual Cockpit that replaces the conventional instrument cluster with a multi-configurable LCD screen.

While the MKC doesn’t take any bold steps forward with respect to design, powertrains, or packaging, it does give Lincoln something it urgently needed—a refined, even somewhat sporty compact crossover. The speed at which it's closed the gap with Audi is remarkable, but our money would probably be spent on the Q5.

Summary

6.7
Expert Rating
The 2017 MKC is a step in the right direction for Lincoln, thanks to controlled handling and interior luxury, but it lacks rear seat space and the cachet of its luxury rivals.
7.5
Expert Rating
The Audi Q5 is certainly the segment's most modern offering, delivering a high degree of technology, comfort, and conservative style.

Styling

8.0
Expert Rating
Based on the Ford Escape, the 2017 Lincoln MKC is more interesing to look at inside and out.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The new Q5 looks rather like its predecessor, but its interior is gorgeous.
Read More

Performance

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Lincoln MKC boasts poised and confident handling, as well as a pair of strong turbocharged 4-cylinder engines.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
Audi's all-wheel drive system is especially good, but we're also happy with the Q5's base 4-cylinder.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Lincoln MKC offers a plush, quiet cabin with plenty of comfort up front, but the rear seat is cramped.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
Beautifully detailed, the Q5's interior is among the best in its segment.
Read More

Safety

4.0
Expert Rating
A variety of active safety features helps make up for imperfect crash-test results.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Audi Q5 earns top marks from federal and independent testers.
Read More

Features

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Lincoln MKC offers a lot of features for the money, but it's hard to consider it a true luxury vehicle.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The base Audi Q5 is so well-equipped that we would be satisfied with it.
Read More

Fuel Economy

6.0
Expert Rating
Tapping into the power of the EcoBoost engines will take the Eco out of the equation, despite impressive fuel economy ratings.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The Audi Q5 is relatively efficient for a spacious crossover.
Read More

MSRP

from $32,880
from $41,500

Invoice

from $31,236
from $38,596

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

23
25

Engine

Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
All Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Compare Free Dealer Price Quote
With competitive price quotes from multiple dealers, you will be prepared when you meet your local car dealer. Please tell us how to contact you so that dealers can compete for your business!
Search Dealers by ZIP Code
Update ZIP Code
2017 Lincoln MKC
2018 Audi Q5
Looking for dealers in your area...
Powered By
We are committed to your privacy. By submitting this form you agree the phone number you provided may be used to contact you (including text, autodialed or pre-recorded calls). Consent is not a condition of purchase.
2019
The Car Connection
See the winners »
2019
The Car Connection
 
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
Related Head to Head
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.