The compact luxury SUV segment is among the fastest-growing areas in the auto industry today. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and even Cadillac have entries and more are on the way. Ford’s luxury brand, Lincoln, jumps into the fray with its new 2015 MKC, which is supported by quirky television ads from Matthew McConaughey.
Lincoln is in the midst of a renaissance, led largely by its MKZ midsize sedan. Ford is stepping up its commitment to the brand with $5 billion in investments, which include a well-publicized ad campaign and a slew of new products coming out in the coming months. The 2015 Lincoln MKC is the second offering in a four-vehicle onslaught and addresses the automaker’s need for a compact SUV within its model lineup.
Producing an alluring exterior may have been the toughest hurdle Lincoln needed to overcome with its entry into the compact SUV segment. Mission accomplished. The new model incorporates the best features of Lincoln’s current generation of vehicles – the split grille and raked windscreen – without being comical.
Its high beltline and sleek line create an athletic-looking SUV that inspires confidence. You feel good getting into it. It’s unlikely that this ute is going off-roading, but it’s more than stylish enough to make an impression when being left with the valet.
The devil is in the details for luxury cars and the MKC certainly borrows heavily from its well-liked MKZ sibling, including what may be the most impressive interior feature: the panoramic vista roof. Heated leather seats are good and the uniquely styled instrument panel is great, but neither makes the impact that the vista roof does. It makes the cabin feel bigger and gives a feeling of expansiveness. During the day it’s brighter and at night it creates a soothing glow. It’s not an inexpensive add-on, but once you own a car with it, you’ll be forever hooked.
As to the aforementioned leather seats, they are indeed heated and provide ample support and comfort whether simply commuting home from the office or engaging in more active types of driving (mild off-roading or aggressive maneuvers while in traffic, for example). If you’re engaged in the latter, the good news is that the instrument cluster is easy to read so you’ll know how fast you’re going.
Small SUVs can be a bit uncomfortable in the back seat, but that’s not the case with the MKC. Full-size adults can enter and exit without any problem and once settled into the back they’ll find plenty of legroom and comfortable seats.
That spaciousness extends to the cargo area in the back. Even with the rear seats upright, it can hold several duffle bags. Perhaps just as importantly, a simple waggle of your foot under the rear bumper will activate the automatic liftgate if your hands are full.
The 2015 MKC comes with the choice of two power plants: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine putting out 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque or a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost pumping out 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque.
The mileage will be better with the smaller iteration, and it performed flawlessly. While it’s a stronger engine than expected, the best mix of mileage and mojo is the 2.3-liter. It provides plenty of off-the-line oomph while ensuring slipping by slower moving traffic on the freeway is effortless.
The Lincoln MKC comes with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is optional on the base model and standard with the larger engine. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines. The EPA reports that the base MKC gets 20/29 mpg city/highway, while opting for all-wheel drive lowers those estimates to 19/26 mpg. MKC models with the more powerful engine see fuel economy estimates that are just slightly lower, at an EPA-estimated 18/26 mpg city/highway.
Like many luxury brands, Lincoln loads its cars with technologies designed to make you a better driver. The MKC features available driver-assist technologies, such as a lane-keeping system, a blind spot information system, collision warning and active park assist with park out assist, which guides drivers in and out of tight parking spaces.
It also features one of the better technologies on the road today: it tells you what the speed limit is on whatever road you happen to be traveling. If you have a bit of a heavy foot, this can be a valuable tool.
Much of the feedback to the driver comes in the form of simple icons that light up on the dashboard. For example, with the lane-keeping System, if you drift out of your lane, the MKC displays a coffee cup in concert with a chime. The chime lets you know you need to get back into your lane, while the coffee cup is a subtle suggestion that you may be too tired to drive and that someone else should take over (or that you should pull over and rest).
The vehicle also boasts “Approach Detection.” As you approach the MKC, it will detect the key fob when you are within 8 feet and turn on soft lights inside the vehicle. It also lights up Lincoln “welcome mats” underneath the doors, the pockets for the door handles and LED accent lights around the headlights and on the taillights.
The use of technology to make your life more convenient does not end once you exit the MKC. When equipped with an embedded modem, the MKC lets owners communicate with their vehicles remotely via the available MyLincoln Mobile app. The app allows you to lock, unlock and locate your vehicle, as well as schedule remote starts and monitor vehicle information such as tire pressure and fuel level.
As of this writing, the 2015 Lincoln MKC has not been fully crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The MKC also received a four-star overall rating (out of five) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The MKC comes standard with a rearview camera, as well as Lincoln’s MyKey system. MyKey lets parents set limits for the MKC’s tops speed and stereo volume, which helps enforce good driving habits for teens. Features such as forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the MKC.
With a base MSRP of $33,100, the MKC starts off a bit more than some vehicles in the segment, such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA or the BMW X1. After our test vehicle was optioned up with the panoramic roof – a $1,700 option – and other goodies, the price tag came in at $40,675. When competitors’ vehicles are outfitted with similar equipment, their price tags came in higher than the similarly equipped Lincoln.
As a result, we think it’s fair to say that the MKC is a good value for the segment.
The 2015 MKC delivers the smooth, comfortable ride that one expects out of a luxury car. It’s even better considering it’s an SUV. In fact, it may be the best way for someone who is looking to get into the next echelon of vehicle to do so without breaking the bank.