The Lincoln designers have worked very hard to ensure that the brand has its own styling cues.
It’s been a considerable amount of time since we’ve had a Lincoln product in the DoubleClutch.ca garage. The last one I had a chance to drive was the lovely MKZ sedan back in 2013. This week, at the tail end of 2015, our editor thought it appropriate to assign me their smallest crossover, now in its second model year. I jumped into my test of the 2016 Lincoln MKC with mixed feelings, as I expected it to be nothing more than a tarted-up Ford Escape with a THX-certified sound system.
From the outside, the MKC shares its basic profile with the Escape it’s based on, but not very much else. The Lincoln designers have worked very hard to ensure that the brand has its own styling cues, and they have done a decent job at separating it from the Ford. It looks considerably more upscale, with the signature Lincoln grille up front and a full LED taillight bar on the rear. The side profile is attractive, but rather anonymous and not aggressive like some of its competitors. Some Ford family items such as the combination keypad on the door pillar are still present, which is a pleasant reminder of the history and heritage behind the brand.
Immediately upon getting into the MKC, I was greeted with an interior that only had vague connections to the Escape it’s based on. The steering wheel is wrapped in extremely soft leather, and the instrument cluster (with two configurable colour displays) is very pleasing to the eye. The rest of the interior is finished in an excellent balance of soft matte wood, leather, and metallic accents. The huge panoramic sunroof brings plenty of light into the cabin, and the windows are adequately large for the same purpose. If Lincoln is succeeding at one thing, it’s making an interior that’s both attractive and functional.
Existing Ford drivers who are looking to step up to something a little bit more special won’t be surprised at what’s under the hood. The entry-level engine (equipped here) on the MKC is the 2.0L EcoBoost four-cylinder. It’s turbocharged and offers 240 horsepower at 5,500RPM and 270 lb-ft of torque at 3,000RPM. Power delivery is predictable and smooth – this Lincoln has its smoothness down pat. It accelerates effortlessly and the six-speed automatic transmission does a good job of hiding its shifts. The MKC’s response is excellent for its size and it’s a natural at darting through traffic undetected. Buyers wanting a little bit more oomph can opt for the 2.3L EcoBoost, which pushes 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque.
Lincoln has implemented LDC (Lincoln Drive Control) to adjust the driving characteristics of the MKC between “Comfort”, “Normal”, and “Sport” modes. This uses the CCD (Continuously Controlled Damping) system to sense road imperfections and driving style. They say the suspension is able to adapt within 20 milliseconds, optimizing handling and ensuring the most comfortable ride possible. The result is a very cushy and smooth ride no matter what the situation, but I wasn’t able to tell a huge difference between the modes. Adjusting steering “feel” into the sportiest mode did help with overall handling.
Speaking of handling, this MKC is incredibly easy to park. Not only does it pack the latest technologies like Park Assist and a neat camera setup, but it has the basics perfected. The electric steering lightens up considerably at parking lot speeds, and it’s almost possible to use one finger to spin the wheel lock to lock. Parallel parking and backing into tight spots is a cinch, and older drivers who may suffer from arthritis will be ecstatic to experience just how effortless the MKC is in operation. Similarly, the driving position is one of my favourites in a crossover. It’s high up enough to give a decent view of the road, and everything is easily accessible from the driver’s seat without having to look twice. Of course, the push-button gear selector is a bit gimmicky, and though flawless in operation, I fail to see why there isn’t just a regular shift lever.
For a small, upscale crossover, the Lincoln MKC is so quiet and uncomplicated in operation that it’s natural to drive it in a calm and composed manner. As discussed, it becomes sporty when asked to, but the reality is that few buyers will wring it out. Fuel economy over my test week was quite good, because I spent a good chunk of the week enjoying the serenity on board this cabin. Using the recommended 91-octane fuel, I averaged 10.6L/100km over the course of my week. This did consist of mostly highway driving, but I can see buyers averaging close to this over a longer term.
The 2.0L MKC starts at just $39,940 with this engine ($49,850 with the 2.3L). All-wheel-drive is standard on all models, but our tester was equipped with the $2,860 Select Equipment Group. This adds 18” wheels, power front seats, Wollsdorf leather steering wheel, power liftgate, and ambient lighting. Additionally, the $650 Climate Package adds a heated steering wheel and heated seats. Individual options checked off here include the THX II stereo for $1,100, the panoramic Vista Roof for $2,200, Select Plus Package (navigation, blind spot assist), and Class II Trailer Tow Package for $500. The total sticker on our MKC tester was just over $49,000, which is right in line with competitors like the Lexus NX, Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50.
Technology aboard the MKC is the new Lincoln application to mirror Ford’s SYNC 3. It’s a fully redesigned interface that boasts more responsiveness, tons of new features, and best of all – it’s easier to use. Navigation inputs are laughably easy, pairing my Android phone via Bluetooth took mere seconds, and the USB ports for additional connectivity are conveniently located on the dash. The optional enhanced THX II Certified sound system pumps out 700-watts of power through 14-speakers, and sounds just as theatrical as the name would suggest.
In my eyes, the reason Lincoln has become rather forgotten over the last few years is because their vehicles, all based on existing Ford products, are lacking a strong personality in design. Whereas Cadillac is going in the other direction using polarizing styling and captivating technology, essentially saying “Hey! Look at me”, Lincoln is hoping to win over buyers that want to fly under the radar. This may be working for the older demographic, but younger buyers want something they can brag about. The MKZ is their best execution yet, with stellar styling and the neat tech of their panoramic sunroof, and the MKC follows closely behind. The upcoming Edge-based MKX should also be promising – check back in early 2016 for our take on that one.
The 2016 Lincoln MKC is a great value proposition and stacks up pretty well against heavy competition in its segment. The clamshell trunklid design is also unique, and the large lightbar sets off the styling of the rear end nicely. It also provides an interior second to none in its segment, with useful technology that’s easy to use. Though its anonymous styling may be an obstacle for attracting younger buyers, the MKC has been selling decently well and should be a great source of revenue for the Lincoln brand for years to come.
2016 Lincoln MKC Gallery