Here is the last part of our coverage of the introduction of the 2015 Lincoln MKC crossover! In Part 1, we discussed the exterior styling; in Part 2 we discovered the car’s interior appointments; in Part 3 we will review the engines and mechanical features of the vehicle and gauge its performance against both in-house competition and other offerings in this segment.
The standard engine for the MKC is the now well-known 2.0L EcoBoost inline four-cylinder engine. Offering 240bhp and 270lb.-ft. of torque, it can be found in that form in many current and former Ford Motor Company products: while it powers the Ford Escape crossover, it can also be found on the entry-level XF and XJ Jaguar sedans in Europe. This engine is equipped with direct injection, the latest technology in variable cam-timing (Ti-VCT) and of course turbocharging. This engine was part of the Wards 10 Best Engines list in 2012.
2.3L EcoBoost I-4 engine, Ford Motor Company
The optional engine is new at Lincoln for 2015, and it is the class-exclusive 2.3L EcoBoost inline four cylinder-engine. Offering 275bhp and 300lb.-ft. of torque it is not available in the Ford Escape or any other crossover. In fact, its only other current application is the 2015 Ford Mustang! Using the same high technology as the 2.0L engine, it is meant to deliver on the EcoBoost promise of V6 performance with four-cylinder economy.
Power is sent to the front and, when equipped with optional all-wheel-drive, the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission featuring Lincoln’s signature push-button transmission on the center stack, as well as paddle shifters behind the steering wheel for SelectShift operation.
Now the technological package really steps up when it comes to the suspension: the MKC can be equipped with Lincoln Drive Control with Continuously Controlled Damping as found on the 2013 MKZ and MKS sedans. Here’s how Lincoln describes it:
A series of 12 advanced sensors read 46 different driving inputs and adjust to the road up to 20 times per second — faster than the blink of an eye. The CCD suspension reacts in milliseconds, adjusting the suspension damping at all four wheels independently. While optional on the frontwheel-drive MKC, CCD comes standard on the all-wheel-drive MKC.
The suspension can then be set in one of three modes (Comfort, Normal and Sport) for adjusted steering and gear shifts patterns.
Other technological features of note are MyLincoln Touch (which we discussed in Part 2), as well as voice-activated navigation and Blind Spot Monitoring System with Cross Traffic alert to prevent dangerous overtaking moves and keep the car safe while backing out of a parking space. Finally, an onboard modem allows passengers to use the MyLincoln Mobile app: this will allow for the usual remote start and locking operations, but uses the remote connection to offer scheduled remote start and climate control so that you can set it and forget about it.
All in all, Lincoln’s emphasis on technology, which started back in 2009 with the MKS and then the “Smart Luxury” campaign, appears now fully part of the brand’s new vehicles. MyLincoln Touch and its mobile connections will also certainly leave room for other functions to be rolled out in the future.
The MKC, for reference, is priced between around 34.000$ and tops at 40.000$ for a fully-equipped Reserve model.
One of the MKC’s main competitors is actually from across the aisle: the Ford Escape, with which the Lincoln crossover shares its basic mechanical architecture, is selling well and could be a serious cross-shopping alternative at Ford-Lincoln dealerships. That being said, the 240bhp Escape falls short on many points: it does not offer the luxurious trim of the MKC, does not offer the 2.3L EcoBoost engine, and does not offer an equivalent to Lincoln’s Drive Control mechanism. Price-wise, the Escape starts at around 23.000$ and tops at around 30.000$ before options. When you think about it, that’s where the value of the MKC really shines because a few thousand dollars more gives you a much more exclusive vehicle inside and out, as well as mechanical and infotainment features you cannot find on the Escape.
Within the Lincoln line-up, the closest competitor is the aging 305bhp 2014 MKX which should soon be revamped and realigned to accommodate the release of the MKC. The MKX starts at about 40.000$ and tops at around 45.500$ for the un-named top trim level before options. Although the MKX now offers luxurious interior trim and MyLincoln Touch, it is only available with the 3.7L V6 engine and overall lacks the refinement of the all-new MKC. It will be interesting to see which role is assigned to the next MKX as the new Ford Edge is about to be revealed.
The New kid on the block
The compact/midsize luxury crossover market has been booming across the industry in the past few years and now covers standard manufacturers pushing upwards, strong premium brands and “full luxury” makes striving to become more accessible.
From Detroit, the MKC will be facing the Buick Encore and Cadillac SRX. The 138bhp Buick Encore, while a much smaller vehicle, does play the card of fuel economy and “right-sized” dimensions fit for the modern, city-based domestic customer which will certainly also consider the MKC. The Encore starts at around 24.000$ and tops at around 28.000$ for a Premium model but of course its technological and mechanical features fall short compared to the MKC. The 308bhp Cadillac SRX fits the MKC’s segment more closely although it is like the MKX only available with a V6: starting at around 37.000$ and topping at 45.000$, it now offers Cadillac’s controversial CUE system.
Japanese competition is also very strong in that segment and while the Infiniti midsize crossover certainly target another kind of performance-oriented customer, the MKC will have to face two established sellers: Acura’s new 273bhp RDX, and the 270bhp Lexus RH. The RDX starts at around 34.500$ and tops at around 40.000$ but is also only available with a large V6. It’s also very close in design and features to the previous-generation RDX, which may hurt its recognition on the market. The Lexus RH may seem like an indirect competitor, as it reaches higher in the market against German brands and offers slightly different packaging: still, the RH starts at around 40.000$ and tops at around 48.000$ for a F-Sport model but does offer a hybrid option on top of its standard V6 engine.
From Germany, a wide range of competitors will face the MKC: there is the Volkswagen Tiguan, the Audi Q5, and BMW’s X1 and X3. The Tiguan, although not from a luxury manufacturer per se, offers it has to be said very interesting packaging and pricing: it starts at around 23.000$ and tops at 37.000$ but only offers 200bhp. The Audi Q3, notoriously more expensive, starts at 37.000$ with 220bhp before options and tops at 51.000$ with 272bhp. Although Audi’s engines enjoy great recognition their cars are known for an important option list and high repair costs. With BMW, it is relevant to compare two different sizes of crossovers with the MKC, due to the important price discrepancy: the X1 starts at 30.000$ with 240bhp and tops at 39.000$ with 300bhp while the X3 starts at 40.000$ with 240bhp and tops at 45.000$ with 300bhp. And that is before options, including the almost necessary upgrade from BMW’s famous Leatherette to a more luxurious upholstery.
Conclusion: A very strong package.
In conclusion, it seems that the MKC’s strongest quality will be its exclusive features: the 2.3L EcoBoost engine appears to be a very serious offering in this segment as it matches well above average power with the promise of greater fuel economy than most of its competitors and all of its direct opponents. Its aggressive pricing strategy is also a bold move on the part of Lincoln and certainly a very good way to stand out in the crowded midsize luxury crossover segment. Finally, the improved customer experience that Lincoln has been working on, as well as the final roll-out of the Black Label edition, should give the brand the “luxury cred” it needs to bring import shoppers back into the fold.
Wrap-up: The Lincoln MKC, a decidedly well-heeled contender.
In this comprehensive series of blog posts, we’ve taken a closer look at a vehicle that aims at strengthening the momentum of the Lincoln Motor Company. Following the traces of the MKZ sedan, the MKX crossover delivers strong styling that cuts all ties with related Ford products, interior appointments that match high technology and serious craftsmanship, and finally a mechanical package that fits squarely with the needs of this segment. In many ways, the MKC hits the spot.
If the brand’s other models follow the same dynamic and it delivers on the customer experience, there is no doubt that Lincoln will clearly shine among premium and luxury makes in North America.