With Lincoln's nascent resurgence, we've been anxiously awaiting its next all-new model. The 2015 Lincoln MKC crossover has finally arrived, and it's every bit as promising as the MKC Concept that caught our eye at the Detroit auto show last January.
Based on the Ford Escape, but sharing nearly nothing visible, the MKC is another step forward from the MKZ sedan in every way. The styling has continued to evolve and carries a distinct Audi feel to it, especially in the signature wraparound tailgate, which gives the rear end added width and a cleaner design. Minor changes to the headlights, taillights, door mirrors, trim, and wheels differentiate the production car from the concept, but a majority of the styling comes through undisturbed.
Underneath, the MKC comes standard with the familiar 240-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine driving the front wheels with 270 lb-ft of torque, though all-wheel drive is optional. The upgrade engine is the new 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost motor, which debuts on the MKC and pumps out 275 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque at the front or all four wheels. Both engines are backed up by a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Out at the corners, 18-, 19- and 20-inch wheels are available and backed up by larger brakes than its Ford sibling. Wheel motion is managed by Lincoln's optional Continuous Control Damping system, which can react to road changes in 20 milliseconds and offers Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes.
Inside, the MKC features styling and amenities similar to those of the MKZ sedan, but upgraded. The general design is similar, with push-button transmission and combination analog and digital gauges, but it's all been accented by the real-wood trim and sleek designs of the concept. The new center stack features all hard buttons, no touch-sensitive pads, and the 8-inch MyLincoln Touch infotainment system. Below it is a hidden cubby with USB and other inputs for the entertainment system. A new steering wheel, which will become standard on all Lincolns, mixes a sleek design with a meatier rim that sits comfortably in your hand.
Seats front and rear feature the soft, quiltlike feel of the larger, more expensive MKS sedan and are wrapped in soft, supple leather. Head-, leg-, and shoulder room are good in front and surprisingly good in the rear and all the seats are heated. The rear seats also get a hidden, three-prong, 110-volt charging port in the bottom of the console. Way in the back, the cargo space is adequate for the class, but appears a bit narrow, possibly because of all the dead space between the edge of the interior panels and the edge of the body work.
The MKC carries a long list of features, some of which you might not expect in the class. They include adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, collision alert, blind spot monitoring, SYNC, 14-speaker THX surround sound, a driver alertness monitor, a massive panoramic sunroof, parallel parking assist, park-out assist (which steers you out of a tight space) and Approach Detection, which scans for your key fob and lights up the LED light bars in the head and taillights, lights in the door handles, and puddle lamps that display the Lincoln logo as "welcome mats" as you approach the car. Also available is the MyLincoln Mobile smartphone app, which allows you to start the car remotely (or schedule it), lock and unlock the vehicle, adjust the cabin temperature, check fuel and battery levels, check tire pressures, locate the vehicle, and call roadside assistance.
Attesting to Lincoln's attention to detail are tight panel gaps and superb fit and finish, not to mention a roster of top-quality materials. The only residual Ford-ness can be found in the Fiesta-grade turn signal and wiper stalks and the MyFord Touch-aping graphics in the infotainment system, simple fixes we hope to see addressed in the future.
The MKC goes on sale in the summer of 2014 at a class-beating starting price of $33,900. The only question left is whether the driving experience is class-beating, too.