2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD
Lincoln escaped building a fancy Escape.
By: Anthony Fongaro | July 2015
Oh Lincoln. People think that you only make upscale versions of Fords and price them $10,000 more. While that isn’t exactly incorrect (look at the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ), Lincoln wanted to really rebrand themselves.
They’re now called “The Lincoln Motor Company” and are adamant that they can get much younger buyers to buy their *not* glorified Fords. Since the average new Lincoln owner can almost qualify for Medicare (age 61), Lincoln figured they should finally get into the small crossover segment. What they created is the MKC, the “C” standing for “Come on! Buy me!” (or maybe crossover, who knows).
Even before the MKC went on sale, it was thought of as a more upscale version of Ford’s Escape. But is it? Is the MKC a bona fide luxury SUV, or just a slightly nicer Ford Escape? To find out, I tested a top-of-the-line MKC with the 2.3L EcoBoost engine, AWD and almost every bell and whistle available. And the results are…
But it looks like a Ford Escape!
Actually, it doesn’t! The MKC may have the basic silhouette of the Escape, but 85% of all the little bits and bobs are unique to the MKC. Let’s face it, the Escape is already a good looking car and if anything, the MKC looks even better. The front end has the corporate “I may be a Lincoln but I can keep up with you young whippersnappers!” grill and headlights which are nice but not what really sets it apart.
What sets it apart are those taillights. My goodness, I love the styling of those taillights and how the word “LINCOLN” is basically underlined with the red light. Exterior-wise, Lincoln did a good job trying to hide the bones of the Escape. Now for the things Lincoln did to really differentiate it from the plebian Escape.
Mustang power…sort of.
Base models of the MKC get the same 2.0-liter turbocharged engine found in the Escape. Not a bad engine, but it isn’t exactly luxury smooth. What Ford did was get the 2.3-liter turbocharged engine found in the Mustang, de-tune it, and put it in the MKC.
That makes absolutely no sense, right? That’s like putting paddle shifters in a Linco…oh….they did that too. Funny thing is, it’s a great engine and properly quick. The 2.3-liter engine from the pony car develops 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to pass your average Midwestern driver.
The engine certainly has the power, but your average Lincoln owner probably won’t appreciate that the engine isn’t as smooth as it should be. Also, your average Lincoln owner also probably won’t use the paddle shifters. This is one instance of Lincoln trying to make the MKC more sporty than luxurious. I imagine luxury as you put the car into Drive (even if you have stupid push button gear selectors) and cruise around listening to a premium brand stereo. So the MKC doesn’t exactly have a luxury heart, but does it waft like a luxury vehicle?
It doesn’t waft.
There are three modes you can select after going through four screens on the tiny tachometer screen called “Lincoln Drive Control” which changes the ride quality, braking and steering due to sensors and more sensors. The modes are Comfort, Normal, and Sport. When the vehicle is in Comfort, the dials have a calming blue outline and the suspension basically laughs at potholes. You can still hear the uneven surfaces you’re driving on, but you don’t feel them. The throttle is not as sensitive as Normal and Sport and the steering isn’t as direct. Basically, keep it in Comfort. Normal is…normal. Sport should only be used in fits of rage. The steering gets heavier, the throttle more sensitive, and there is a red outline over the dials. It’s more fun in Sport (obviously), but Comfort is worth it.
Let me start with what I hated: push-button gear selectors. They don’t change from Drive to Reverse quickly, you don’t feel any connection with the car, and while it does free up space, there is probably a reason why no other luxury automaker used them (they look and feel cheap).
The seats are very supportive and quite plush up front, but feel cramped in the back. The placement of the hazard button is quite simply, terrible. While trying to use the navigation system, I would accidentally push the hazards which made me look like an idiot. Also, the central screen (called MyLincoln Touch which is MyFord Touch but…different name) is used so often, and smudges so much, you’d think a dirty toddler was messing with it.
The quality of the materials in the MKC absolutely blows the Escape out of the water. That’s where you’re spending your money, on these soft-touch leather pieces. I do wish the seat color matched the color of the dash but beggars can’t be choosers.
Almost all the technology!
I will now list words: Hands-free Liftgate, Ambient Lighting, Approach Detection with Welcome Mat, THX Audio System, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), SYNC with MyLincoln Touch. There are just some of the features that the MKC has. In fact, the only option not checked was the $2,295 Technology Package that gives you Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Park Assist, forward sensing system, and lane-keeping system. Honestly, I wasn’t that mad about not having these.
This almost fully-loaded car had heated and cooled front seats, navigation with voice command, a giant Panoramic sunroof, and beautiful 20-inch wheels. Not surprisingly all of that doesn’t come cheap. In fact it’s $47,000.
But totally worth it.
No really, it is. Like I said, you don’t really need the Technology Package and can get a nicely equipped MKC for about $44,000. At that price, the other luxury brands don’t have this blend of performance and luxury.
The exterior doesn’t look like a straight up Ford Escape clone and those taillights and Approach Detection system are really cool.
Soft materials everywhere. The touchscreen is annoying but you can get cooled seats and an amazing THX Audio System.
Mustang engine in a small Lincoln crossover? Sure! It’s quick and in Comfort mode great around town.
Fuel economy: 7/10
24 mpg isn’t terrible for an almost 300 hp turbocharged engine.
Value for money: 8/10
Fully loaded is $50,000, but skip a few unnecessary options and you can get one for around $45,000.
Final Score: 7.6/10
I never thought I’d say this, but I recommend the MKC more than the Escape. I recommend it over an Acura RDX as well. It still has some refinement issues before it can be a top player amongst Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi, but Lincoln has made a great little vehicle that people can aspire to buy.
Photos courtesy of The Lincoln Motor Company.