2015 LINCOLN MKC
PRICE: $39,940 base, $55,920 as tested
ENGINES: 2.3L I4 Ecoboost (2.0L also available)
POWER/TORQUE: 285 hp/305 lb.ft. (240 hp/270 lb.-ft. for 2.0L)
FUEL CONSUMPTION L/100 km: 12.9 city, 9.2 hwy (12.4/9.0 for 2.0L)
COMPETITION: Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti EX, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLK
WHAT?S BEST: High attention to detail in interior design
WHAT?S WORST: Fuel tank is too small and requires frequent refills
WHAT?S INTERESTING: The foot-activated hands-free tailgate is a class-exclusive feature
A lot of attention has been paid to the interior design of Lincoln?s new crossover
Ford has thrown its chips into the high-end crossover game with the new Lincoln MKC, and the result is a well-executed and sophisticated entry into the segment at an attainable price.
It?s clear from the first climb into this vehicle that a great deal of attention has been paid to detail. The interior is a very pleasant place to spend time, highlighted by luxury aesthetics, artful and fluid lines, and supple leather trim.
More importantly, the user interface has clearly been arranged with occupants in mind. Drive mode selection is done via a series of buttons on the dash and the parking brake is off to the driver?s left, which significantly frees up the space between the driver and the front passenger and gives the cabin an open and spacious feel.
My tester was the fully loaded version featuring Ford?s new 2.3L EcoBoost engine, capable of producing 285 horsepower and 305 lb.-ft. of torque, mated with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
This powertrain is delightful. It delivers smooth and effortless acceleration, shifts logically in both its normal and sport drive modes, and has more than enough grunt left over to keep most drivers happy. Between that and the exceptionally quiet cabin, you can almost forget you?re in a car if that?s the sort of experience you?re looking for.
Driver aids and convenience features are plentiful and done well. Continuously controlled suspension damping keeps the ride smooth and very comfortable over rough roads. The blind spot information system is helpful without being obtrusive.
Similarly, the lane keep assist is often the first feature I turn off in a vehicle, particularly if it beeps loudly or vibrates my fingers until they?re numb. The MKC?s isn?t overly sensitive and offers just light, intermittent feedback, so I was inclined to leave it on and actually make use of the feature for a change.
On a particularly long and late-night trip home, I was happy to have that lane keeping feature working in concert with the nicely upright and comfortable seats, adaptive cruise control with collision warning system, and automatic high beams. They allowed me to stay alert and focus my attention on scanning for hazards. I typically prefer to be more immersed in my driving experience, but I was grateful for the help on this highway haul in the middle of the night. (I?m told the MKC also advises the driver to get some sleep if it senses that inputs are getting lazy, though I didn?t trigger that warning myself, I swear.)
Just about any device you could hope to use in this vehicle will hook up to it somehow. The MKC has two USB ports, an SD card reader, two 12-volt jacks and a standard 120-volt plug neatly tucked into a retractable door in the back.
MyLincoln Touch is not the most universally popular interface, but I found the eight-inch touch screen responsive and easy enough to navigate. Drivers can perform most interactions with the MKC without taking their hands off the steering wheel once preferences are set. The voice command system took a little longer to get used to, but after a couple of arguments with it over terminology while inputting destinations I got to know it well enough to be satisfied.
And you?ve got to love the class-exclusive hands-free tailgate. If your hands are full with bags, simply walk up to the back of the MKC with the key fob in your pocket and kick the underside of the bumper. The door then lifts open on its own. Fantastic.
By the time my weekend with the MKC was done, I only had two significant beefs with it.
The first is a surprising one given the attention to detail elsewhere: simply put, the fuel tank doesn?t seem big enough. The bulk of my time with it involved two six-hour highway runs, which netted me a final reading of 9.4 L/100 km, a usage on the low end of the expected range for this engine (9.2 hwy or 12.9 city). However, even at that consumption rate I was only getting 500 km out of each tank before I was stopping to refuel. That could get annoying after owning the vehicle for a while.
The other complaint is more niggling but got on my nerves much more quickly: For some reason, the MKC is prone to losing satellite radio signal very easily. The antenna must be buried a little too well because I can?t recall ever being in a car that so quickly goes quiet while passing under a couple of too-close bridges. When travelling through downtown between condos and office towers, reception goes down to pretty much nil and puts the 14 speakers of the excellent 700-watt THX sound system to waste.
Many people would consider those minor tradeoffs for the MKC?s benefits, however, and that?s fair enough. It?s an American-made car that comes with considerable wow factor at a price tag that?s not exorbitant.
Perhaps its best endorsement of all is the curb appeal. In the five days I had it, not a single one of my acquaintances walked by without saying, ?Wow, nice car! What is that?!?
It?s the new MKC and the new Lincoln. And it looks very likely that both will be turning heads.
The vehicle tested by freelance writer Stephanie Wallcraft was provided by the manufacturer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org