The Lincoln MKC is the fountain of youth for this formal luxury division of Ford Motor Co.
Suddenly, Lincoln has a desirable new entry in the fastest growing segment of vehicles in the U.S.: the compact crossover. All of the European and import luxury brands have at least one and so do the mainstream brands.
It is a simple and mainly American invention — a body style that appeals to families, singles and empty nesters. Really, the crossover is just a sedan with more cargo space, but with a lot more potential for creative styling and function.
And the MKC has style and versatility. It has shared Ford global architecture but remains quite individual from the Ford Escape. There is no shared sheet metal with Escape, the high beltline and lower roofline give it a sleeker look and the track is about an inch wider than that of the Ford.
Lincoln also offers a list of technologies, including Lincoln Drive Control, a system that manages the engine, transmission, electric power steering and other functions for optimum performance.
The MKC is also the first vehicle to get Ford’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, which is rated for 285 horsepower, eliminating the need for a V-6.
The base 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine is the top-line engine on the Escape. And it had plenty of kick in my week of driving. EPA fuel economy is 20 mpg city, 29 highway and a 23 combined. I observed between 22 and 27.3 mpg in a week of not trying to conserve. Premium fuel is recommended for peak power, but an occasional tank of 87 octane won’t hurt.
MKC is sold in front- or all-wheel-drive models with a six-speed automatic transmission. Pricing starts at about $34,000 for the entry model with a turbocharged, 240-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (20 mpg city, 29 highway on 87 octane fuel); AWD adds $2,495. The MKC with AWD and turbocharged, 285-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder (18/26 mpg) ranges from $40,000 to $52,000. And there are Black Label upgrades with a higher luxury content and special customer service.
Today’s tester is a front-drive model with an as-tested price of $38,975, including the $895 freight charge from Louisville, Kentucky. Standard equipment includes keyless entry and push-button start, heated front seats, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, leather-trimmed upholstery, navigation system, MyLincolnTouch infotainment and seven air bags.
The six-speed transmission may not seem as sophisticated as some of the seven, eight and nine speeds on some competitors, but it rolls through the gears with ease.
The MKC is not a sport crossover and there is road noise at highway speeds, particularly at the rear side glass and doors. But the electronic controlled damping system (a worthwhile $650 option) delivers a luxury-class ride and all but eliminates head toss when entering driveways or stepping over speed bumps.
The artfully sculpted interior features a black headliner, soft leather and appealing, light wood trim that actually has a grain texture. Like the MKZ sedan, the MKC uses an electronic push-button gearshift instead of a lever, leaving room for an open center console. There is good storage capacity and an e-bin for phone/device charging with USBs, auxiliary port, 12-volt and an SD card slot. The armrest console, with two lighted cup holders, has two levels of storage. Illuminated gauges are an easy read but the small space is crowded with a speedometer that goes to 160 mph. A reconfigurable readout with a digital speedometer would suit the contemporary tone of this car. An electric parking brake is another good space saver.
The color touchscreen is large and easily deciphered. And there is a new hands-on approach for cabin controls — knobs for audio volume and tuning, switches for the temp and fan speeds and a dial for climate control adjustments. So much easier than tapping the touchscreen.
The doors close with Lincoln authority and a simple extra that I enjoyed was the approach-detection lighting. When a person with the key fob is within eight feet the taillights and running lights switch on and a welcome mat is projected onto the ground from the base of the side mirrors.
The back seat area is roomy with a low transmission tunnel for minimal intrusion on footroom. The bench seat is compact-class but with good legroom of 36.8 inches and tall headroom of 38.7 inches.
The one-piece wraparound, clamshell rear liftgate (made by a hydroforming process) gives the MKC a clean-looking rear and opens access to the cargo area. Dimensions are 43 inches wide by 29 inches tall and about 64 inches to the back of the front seats. Cargo space is 25.2 cubic feet behind the second row or 53.1 seats folded.
While it has a global foundation, the MKC is designed for the tastes and preferences of the American user. With its reasonable pricing, attractive styling and personality, the MKC is a compact ambassador for the brand.
Mark Maynard is online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage