Media Round-Up: 2015 Lincoln MKC first drives

Back when the new Lincoln MKC “premium utility” crossover was officially released in its production form, we gathered the first impressions of the main media outlets in a “media round-up”.

Although these were literally first impressions based on the production vehicles touring the auto show circuit, and could not take into account the yet-to-be released pricing, the least we can say is that they were really positive: journalists known to be usually tough on Lincolns praised the vehicle’s unique styling, upscale interior materials and overall very smart packaging and market segment.

Now that the summer is (almost) behind us and the 2015 models are starting to roll off the lots, journalists of both online and paper publications have gotten a chance to get their hands on the MKC for “first drives” and full fledged reviews. Now there are lots of outlets out there but we selected a few well-established ones, to give an idea of how well the vehicle is being received by the mainstream media.

Autoblog was enthusiastic in their First Drive:

After flogging Lincoln’s latest for hundreds of miles over canyon roads outside of Santa Barbara, we’ve come to understand that this is far from a re-grilled Dearborn special with luxury tinsel – it’s a bona fide standalone product that readily displays the sort of clear differentiation seen in platform cousins like the Audi Q3 and the Volkswagen Tiguan. It’s the real deal. […] It’s that hydroformed clamshell that literally and figuratively seals the deal, though. Not only is it an elegant piece of metalsmithing, it allows for a rear graphic that’s uninterrupted by shutlines, giving Lincoln’s trademark long-band taillamps the room to stretch out, wrapping ’round the corners and emphasizing the vehicle’s width. This is a thoughtful, 360-degree design. […] With fine materials, generous standard equipment and a cleaner control layout and visuals than some rivals, “[the MKC’s cabin is] right in the thick of the segment, standing soft-touch plastic to soft-touch plastic with rivals like the top-selling Acura RDX, as well as Europe’s Audi Q5,BMW X3, Land Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLK and Volvo XC60.

The MKC-specific tune of the electric power-assisted steering is very well calibrated, exhibiting quick, confident turn-in, proper weighting and a more communicative nature than expected of most EPAS setups. […] The all-wheel drive system helps in the fun-to-drive cause, too. When Lincoln Drive Control is set to Sport or if the transmission PRNDL is in Sport, there’s more rear-bias to the torque split in certain driving situations than in the its Blue Oval relative. […] The last time we remember a Lincoln this dynamically competitive among its peers, it had the letters “LS” affixed to its decklid. […] The starting price of a base 2.0L FWD Premiere trim is $33,995 including destination, which is still a good chunk less than the price-leader RDX ($35,790), let alone the much costlier Europeans.

The 2015 MKC feels up to the challenge of kicking off the revival.

Car and Driver proved much more skeptical in their short Review but did find this good to say:

The MKC is arguably the best execution of Lincoln’s current design language [and] the design details, the brightwork, and the sheetmetal creasing are enough to differentiate this Lincoln from its competition and, perhaps more important, the Ford Escape. […] Despite its heft, the MKC remains stable and flat in corners, and the steering is responsive without exhibiting any nervousness. Three-position, electronically controlled shocks are standard on four-wheel-drive versions and a $650 option on front-drivers. Current or former Town Car owners will feel right at home in Comfort mode. […] Stick to the well-equipped Premiere trim rather than jumping to the Select or Reserve, and the MKC strikes us as a compelling buy below $40,000. [The] MKC, when kept below $40,000, looks and acts polished enough to wear its luxury badge, which is more than we’ve been able to say about a Lincoln for some time.

Motorweek says in their First Impressions:

[With] the 2015 MKC, Lincoln may indeed have a worthy competitor for the growing small luxury crossover segment. The overall design, while not original, has a classy, swept, international look that contrasts nicely with Ford’s sharper, more utilitarian Escape. There’s also little of Escape inside. It’s a rich, modern interior with touch screen controls, and high end materials including real wood on the dash. Available technologies run the gamut from adaptive cruise to a new park-out feature. The MKC is also remarkably on point when it comes time to drive. […] Everything a Lincoln fan wants in a Lincoln is definitely in the MKC. It’s ultra-quiet inside; plenty of technology; and […] long haul comfort. [It’s] truly a luxurious ride.

MotorTrend says in its Road Test:

Overall, the MKC accomplishes its first objective [note: regaining some swagger for the brand], proving to the world that it is not a fancy Ford Escape, the platform on which the MKC was built. […] The differences between the MKC and the Escape […] help create a compact crossover worthy of a luxurious brand that appears to be moving in the right direction. If [customers did cross-shop the MKC and imports] they’d be pleasantly surprised with this new and complete crossover that can cost thousands of dollars less than the foreign competition and comes with more features than an iPhone. […] For most Lincoln customers, the real changes begin inside the cabin. It’s swathed in leather provided by Bridge of Weir Fine Scottish Leather and there are lots of user-friendly features throughout the cabin. […] What struck me about the MKC is the well-executed interior. The dash has a great flow about it and the instrument panel gauges look like something designed in Switzerland instead of Dearborn. The touch points are soft.

Lincoln also boasts a number of high-tech features that will please customers, such as the approach-detection system that lets the MKC light up as the driver nears it. A puddle lamp with the Lincoln logo shines as well, as do the parking lights and the door handles. This is something everyone else will begin to copy because of the way it makes a driver feel when he or she walks up to an MKC. […] By undercutting the competition’s price and providing more features, there’s room for Lincoln to grow. Consumers who eventually rediscover Lincoln should be impressed.

Automobile Magazine says in its Review:

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is not simply a rebodied Ford Escape Titanium, as we had feared. Lincoln apparently has studied the Volkswagen-Audi relationship well. The MKC is about the same length as the Escape and has the same wheelbase, though the front and rear tracks are each 0.9-inch wider. The only relevant differences in the chassis are shock tuning and the MKC’s continuously controlled dampers. Assembled in the same Louisville, Kentucky, plant as the Escape, the MKC has its own inspection line and standards. Tolerances will be “nominal” instead of “to spec.” […] Apart from this further step toward autonomy, the 2015 Lincoln MKC steers, rides and handles better than you might expect from this segment. It’s not an anodyne, pampered-people mover like the larger Lexus RX or the Lincoln MKX (which will be replaced next year).

The most striking thing about the 2015 Lincoln MKC is that thing you notice by its absence—noise. With its active noise cancellation, the compact Lincoln CUV is library quiet, which makes the intrusiveness of the twenty-inch Michelins that much more noticeable. […] Nevertheless, the Lincoln MKC is a credible competitor for the Acura RDX, the larger Cadillac SRX, and quite possibly even the Audi Q5. Lincoln enters the hottest global automotive segment with an effort that ought to provide a few more rounds of beer for Lincoln designer and engineers.

All in all, and with the exception of the tough crowd at Car and Driver, the MKC was well received. The same highlights come back in each review: the vehicle is much different inside and out from the Escape and on par with the level of extra luxury that an Audi will give you over a Volkswagen for instance; its handling is spirited and all outlets take time to point out that the optional engine is shared with the Mustang; its pricing is aggressive and especially interesting in mid-level specifications, which could help a lot of MKCs drive off the lots in the coming months.

It’ll be very interesting to monitor sales numbers in the near future!

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One response to “Media Round-Up: 2015 Lincoln MKC first drives

  1. Pingback: Matthew McConaughey to act as new Lincoln spokesperson | The Mark of Lincoln·

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