When the 2015 Lincoln MKC premium utility vehicle was first released to the press last winter, we examined its competition in terms of price and packaging – only to note that it was a very strong contender in the segment, thanks to aggressive pricing and unique mechanical specifications. Now that more and more units are rolling off dealers’ lots, it may be time to do an update on two opponents in particular, and not even the ones singled out by the press in their reviews of the vehicle.
Indeed, it seems the MKC has been mostly compared to the German competition, especially the dynamic duo made up of the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Audi Q3. But the new compact SUV from Lincoln also goes head-to-head with Cadillac’s popular SRX. Granted, the SRX used to be the MKX’s arch-nemesis but the MKX being at the end of its career and the next-generation promising a more dynamic vehicle, it is fair to also pit the MKC against the Cadillac’s finned crossover.
Several reports suggest that customers think the same way, as MKC sales have experienced a push that mirrors the SRX’s recent slump: while it is difficult to compare an all-new model to a well-established ones, SRX sales fell 37% in August to around 4,500 units, while the MKC sold over 1,500 units in July and over 1,700 units in August. Again this has to be put into perspective: the MKC knew sales in the hundreds at the beginning of the summer, and the SRX was up to this point Cadillac’s money-maker. Also, the SRX has been the subject of many recalls over the spring and summer which undoubtedly do not sit well with luxury buyers.
The idea is that Lincoln is delivering a “one-two” punch to Cadillac: while SRX prospects most likely already have the larger and more expensive MKX on their cross-shopping list, a good deal of them must be seduced when the discover the MKC next to it on their Lincoln dealer’s showroom floor. It is cheaper by about 3,000$ than the SRX, offers more features and better fuel economy thanks to its EcoBoost engines. Also, while advertising for the MKX has all but disappeared from our TV screens (excluding pitches for summer rebates), both the SRX and the MKC have known a strong media push in the past weeks.
The MKC notoriously enjoys Matthew McConaughey’s contribution as a spokesperson for Lincoln, the Academy Award-winner selling the idea that the MKC is a different, alternative in the cultural sense of the term, choice for luxury buyers. The SRX on the other hand has known two ad campaigns over the summer, in which a man looking strangely like McConaughey asks buyers to drop their vanilla ice-cream (clearly meaning German and Japanese models) to try something “tastier” (namely the touch screen-equipped SRX).
Consequently, the SRX seems completely framed: those prospects that do not need advertisement to be convinced will discover the MKC in stores, while those needing convincing will probably go for the fresh message of the McConaughey campaign. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this trend over the coming months, especially since Cadillac has not said anything about the future of the SRX.
Another interesting piece of news when it comes to the MKC’s competition is the arrival of the.. controversially-styled Lexus NX. The new Japanese crossover will debut at 34,480$ not including destination. That puts it in square MKC territory. The NX also ships with a 2.0L turbo engine which delivers 235hp, against the MKC’s standard 234hp 2.0L and optional 275hp 2.3L EcoBoost engines. The Lexus does not offer an optional gasoline engine but is available with a hybrid powetrain.
That being said, the styling of the NX will definitely prove to be divisive. While Lexus’ new overstyled identity works on mean sports sedans like the GS, it has proved to be much more awkward on the sedate ES and even more so yet on this small SUV: its dramatic front fascia causes a lot of squinting and overhang, especially when seen from the front three-quarter view. I am not sure this will work well this prospects in this segment.
Finally, a little word from China: Buick has released its midsize Envision crossover. No word yet on a possible North-American debut but it looks similar to the compact minivan sold here in Canada and over in Europe as the Chevrolet Orlando – and which toured the auto show circuit as the GMC Granite for a while. While no US pricing has obviously been announced, it does come in China with a 256hp 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine.
- 2015 Lincoln MKC: The Well-Heeled Contender, part 3, at The Mark of Lincoln
- Is Lincoln killing the one thing Cadillac got right?, at TheFool.com
- 2015 Lexus NX starts at 34,480$*, at Autoblog.com
- 2015 Buick Envision, at TopSpeed.com
Photo credit: Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Lexus / Copyright 2014 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL.