2015 Lincoln MKC: Nice Enough to Win New Buyers to the Brand [Review]

2015 Lincoln MKC Black Label AWD

The new Lincoln MKC is a very important vehicle for the luxury carmaker. Not only does it compete in what is arguably the hottest segment in the market, but it also provides the kind of styling and performance that should attract younger buyers, which is vital for Lincoln to regain relevance. Heck, even Matthew McConaughey is driving one, although it seems to have put him in a strangely philosophical mood…

Like all other Lincoln models, the MKC shares the same platform as a Ford product, in this case the Ford Escape. Luckily this is not a liability, as the MKC has a completely different exterior that looks quite smart and sophisticated. The design does a nice job of incorporating the Lincoln split-wing grille, and unlike the MKZ, the rear of the car isn’t disjointed from the rest of the design. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the MKC is one of the best-looking small luxury crossovers on the market.

As is becoming more and more common, the MKC is only available with a turbocharged 4-cyclinder engine, but buyers do get to choose the size, either a 2.0L or 2.3L. The test car featured the optional 2.3 L EcoBoost engine, which is essentially a detuned version of what’s available in the Mustang and new Focus RS. In the MKC it makes 285 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 305 lb-ft of torque. Order the 2.3L engine and you also get AWD, which is probably a good thing since that much torque would easily overwhelm the front tires.

2015 Lincoln MKC Black Label AWD

Acceleration is strong, although not breathtakingly so, which is probably due to a rather hefty curb weight of close to 4,000 pounds. The ample torque does make for effortless everyday driving, and the engine is reasonably smooth and quiet. Unfortunately, fuel efficiency isn’t a strong suit, as the EPA only gives the 2.3L MKC a combined rating of 21 mpg, which is rather low for a compact crossover. Fuel efficiency aficionados should definitely stick with the smaller motor.

The main performance drawback is the 6-speed automatic transmission, which just doesn’t allow for the kind of snappy shifting as the 8-speed ZF transmission you’ll find in competitors like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Acceleration would also improve with a few more available gears, especially when passing on the freeway.

The MKC does drive quite well, and even does a half-decent job of simulating a sports sedan, especially with the optional Lincoln Drive Control adaptive suspension system. Select the Sport setting and the shocks become noticeably stiffer, giving the MKC a much more planted feel. Optional 20-inch wheels with low-profile tires ensure that there is plenty of grip available, and the all-wheel drive system makes accelerating out of corners as easy as planting your left foot to the floor.

The MKC features a nicely appointed interior, especially in the case of our test car’s exclusive Black Label trim. To quote from Lincoln’s press release, “’Black Label’ is the ultimate expression of the Lincoln brand’s foundation of Design, Quality, and Personal Service.” Sounds lofty, but the end result is an upscale interior that wouldn’t embarrass itself when compared to the German and Japanese competition. The Venetian leather trimmed seats are both heated and cooled, the headliner is made from Alcantara, and most of the materials are definitely a cut above what you’d find in a Ford.

Unfortunately interior room is less than exceptional, especially for occupants of the rear seats. Legroom is decidedly scarce, and if the front seat passengers are over six feet tall you’ll be getting intimately reacquainted with your own knees.

  Lincoln MKC Audi Q5 BMW X3 Cadillac SRX Acura RDX Volvo XC60
Rear Leg Room 36.8 inches 37.4 inches 36.8 inches 36.3 inches 38.3 inches 36.4 inches

As would be expected in a modern luxury car, all of the latest driver-assist technologies are also available, including adaptive cruise control, forward sensing system, lane keeping system, and active park assist, all of which work as advertised. Unfortunately the MyLincoln Touch system is just a modified version of MyFord Touch, about which the less said the better. Buyers of the 2016 model year will receive the new Sync 3 system, which has received positive initial reviews. The optional enhanced THX certified audio system is genuinely impressive, and goes toe to toe with the best premium sound systems available.

While the MKC starts at a reasonable $33,260 for the FWD model with the 2.0L engine, our loaded Black Label test car checks in at an eye-watering $57,500. That kind of money can buy a much larger vehicle, or a loaded small SUV from more prestigious brands. Forking over close to $60k for a small Lincoln crossover is just something we don’t see a lot of people doing. Forgo the fancy Black Label trim and you can buy an MKC with the 2.3L EcoBoost engine and AWD for as little $40,200, which is a much better value proposition.

2015 Lincoln MKC rear cargo area

  • Lease itOn the TFLcar scale of:
  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

Overall, the 2015 Lincoln MKC is a competitive product that definitely pushes the brand forward, and I give it a strong “Lease It” recommendation. Preventing it from earning a “Buy It” recommendation is the dated 6-speed transmission and questionable value, but hats off to Lincoln for creating a compelling new product that should bring new buyers to the brand.

2015 Lincoln MKC Black Label AWD Specs:

  • Base price: $48,700
  • Price as tested: $57,500
  • Engine: 2.3L I-4 EcoBoost
  • Power: 285 hp @ 5500 rpm
  • Torque: 305 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • EPA-estimated fuel economy (mpg city/hwy): 18 / 26
  • Curb weight: 3,963 lbs
  • Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
  • Towing capacity: 3,000 lbs
  • Cargo capacity, all seats upgright: 25.2 cubic feet
  • Maximum cargo capacity: 53.1 cubic feet

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is an all new small crossover from one of America’s own homegrown luxury brands. In another accurate, fun and informative review Roman drives the 2015 Lincoln MKC and determines if it has what it takes to compete with the best selling luxury car brands.