2015 Lincoln MKCPosted on February 27th, 2015
Compact luxury crossover
By Nina Russin
Crossovers run the risk of being jacks-of-all-trades and experts at none. They are to the car world what cross trainers are to the shoe world: carrying people and their stuff through rain, sleet, snow and occasionally mud, as work-a-day commuters and weekend warriors.
Creating a car to meet all these needs isn’t particularly difficult, but giving it passion is the supreme challenge. It’s not the technology behind the MKC that makes the car so special, although features such as the 285-horsepower EcoBoost engine and push-button transmission don’t hurt. What makes the MKC magical is its ability to connect with the driver: something multi-passenger vehicles very rarely do.
Getting behind the wheel of the new MKC, I instantly sensed kinesthesia between my hands and the steering wheel, my spine with the seatbacks, and my feet with the pedals. The car engaged my mind and body in a manner that was nothing short of exhilarating.
This is not to say that the Lincoln MKC is a sports car in a crossover body. But it manages to make features that seem intrusive on competitive products completely intuitive. For example, the lane departure warning and assist system gently guides the driver back to the center of the lane when he starts to stray, with gentle haptic feedback. The 2.3-liter turbocharged engine achieves its fuel economy targets regardless of how hard the driver pushes the car, and the transmission saves space without forcing its user through a new learning curve.
All-wheel drive makes the MKC a four-season vehicle. In the winter, an app enables the driver to start the car remotely and pre-heat it. Active park assist with available park-out assist will automatically pull the vehicle into a parallel parking spot on the street. Drivers who park in public garages and lots can use the rearview camera to monitor cross traffic, making it easier and safer to back out.
Base price for the test car with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine is $40,860. Options include the ruby red exterior paint, active park assist, premium audio system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, forward collision warning, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, automatic high-beams, rain-sensing wipers and adaptive cruise control. Final MSRP is $49,265.
Test drive in Phoenix
My 100-mile test drive over the past week included the Phoenix, Scottsdale and Chandler, Arizona metropolitan areas as well as a section of the Gila River Indian reservation south of town. The annual influx of tourists and winter residents at this time of year can make traffic a nightmare as the sheer number of vehicles on area roads exceeds their capacity. The fact that the MKC handled this situation with aplomb is testament to how good the car is.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine is an amazing piece of work, and not just because of its fuel economy. Ten years back, nobody would have imagined that a small, four-cylinder engine could adequately power a 4,000-pound high-profile vehicle. The EcoBoost block makes the task seem like a piece of cake.
Direct injection delivers gasoline into the engine cylinders under high pressure, eliminating throttle lag and significantly reducing the amount of unburned fuel coming out the tailpipes. The engine’s twin scroll turbocharger enables the block to develop peak torque at relatively low engine speeds.
To give readers a basis of comparison, the 1994 Mustang GT with a five-liter engine produced 215 horsepower and 285 foot-pounds of torque: that’s almost 30-percent less power than the block in the MKC which is less than half its size.
The six-speed automatic transmission in the MKC is well mated to the engine, progressing smoothly through the gears with no obvious shift shock during normal driving conditions. Push button transmissions aren’t a new idea: the idea dates back to Chrysler models from the mid-1950s. But needless to say, its execution is much improved. By relocating the transmission controls to the instrument panel, engineers cleared up valuable real estate in the car’s center console and the driver’s armrest.
The MKC has a relatively high beltline and narrow greenhouse that does impact the driver’s visibility. For this reason, I’d recommend the technology option package that includes active park assist. The rearview camera eliminates blind spots in the rear corners and beneath the back glass. Blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots, making it easier to weave through dense traffic on the highway.
The electric power steering system is exceptionally well tuned, mimicking performance from a conventional hydraulic setup while reducing mass under the hood and saving the car owner from some maintenance hassles down the road. The turning circle is 38 feet, so drivers can perform the occasional U-turn on wider suburban surface roads.
The four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and multi-links in the rear. The driver can select from normal, comfort and sport modes, modifying suspension stiffness to his liking. Continuous variable damping adjusts the shocks in real time according to road conditions. Stabilizer bars on the front and rear axles prevent excessive roll in the corners.
The Lincoln MKC accommodates up to five adults, with plenty of cargo space for their luggage, groceries, golf or camping equipment. Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing engine, wind and road noise intrusion to the interior so occupants can converse on the highway or enjoy the premium audio system.
All models come with keyless entry and start, saving the driver from fumbling for the key fob. The engine start button is integrated into the control panel for the automatic transmission.
Infotainment features include Ford Sync voice-activated controls and MyLincoln Touch that enables owners to customize voice-activated commands.
A panoramic sunroof brings an abundance of ambient light into the interior during the day, while ambient lighting creates a different mood after dark.
Fit and finish is excellent throughout the interior, in keeping with what buyers would expect from a luxury brand.
The Lincoln MKC comes with front, side, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, SOS post-crash alert, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control and tire pressure monitoring. The factory warranty includes two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
The all-new MKC is on display at Lincoln dealerships nationwide.
Like: A beautifully styled compact crossover vehicle with exceptional power, performance and fuel economy.
Dislike: Narrow greenhouse limits the driver’s visibility.
Model: MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD
Base price: $40,860
As tested: $49,265
Horsepower: 285 Hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 305 lbs.-ft. @ 2750 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 18/26 mpg city/highway2015, Luxury 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Lincoln, performance, pricing, standard safety
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