2.3l EcoBoost I-4 - 6-speed SelectShift Auto
285 @ 5,500 rpm
305 lb.-ft. @ 2,750 rpm
714 - 1,504
The reinvention of the Lincoln brand in an attempt to lure a younger, more diverse audience, brings the second all-new vehicle to our attention and it is no other, than the 2015 Lincoln MKC. The company’s compact SUV, which is exclusively powered by 4-cylinder EcoBoost engines.
Design matters most in the process of rebranding, and with the split-wing grille, wraparound tailgate, long strips of lighting and an intensively sculpted body, the MKC stands out of the crowd with ease, triggering one’s curiosity to find out more about it. First thing you should know, is that the 2.0L EcoBoost AWD model is the entry level in Canada (US gets a FWD version) and it costs $38,940. Step up to the more powerful 2.3L EcoBoost AWD and be prepared to spend almost ten grand more ($48,650). Our test vehicle came equipped with some extra toys like the THX certified sound system, the trailer tow package (2,000 lbs), and the technology package that includes the active park assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and lane keeping system. It also came with optional 19” alloys bumping the price up to a grand total of $54,170 as tested.
Inside the cabin, the effort to showcase high grade craftsmanship is obvious, as most panels are covered with a premium – soft to the touch – material. Fit and finish is good, and the design is a bit on the conservative side when compared to the first new age Lincoln, the MKZ. The fully touch sensitive console has been dropped for a more traditional push button setup, making all controls much easier to use. It is a handsome looking dash with lines that meet in harmony and flush nicely into the doors. The instrument cluster is easy to read, fancy to look at and includes all the possible readings within its compact size.
The seats are plush but lack thigh and side support, roominess up front is ample and visibility is not compromised by blind spots. The driving position is very car like, and there are enough adjustments to help sit a wide variety of body types and driving styles. The rear seats are spacious and comfortable as well, and they are reclinable and foldable to further increase practicality. The trunk is pretty roomy too, as at 714L without the cover, it is on par with class average.
Under the hood, the new 2.3L Ecoboost 4-cylinder engine might not be the most refined unit, but it does pack some serious power. Maximum horsepower is 285 HP and with 305 lb-ft of torque, pulling power is very good throughout the rev-band. The intelligent AWD system suits the vehicle very well and should inspire enhanced confidence in bad weather, but the 6-speed SelectShift gearbox, at least in the specific car we were given, had some serious issues. The shift between 2nd and 3rd gear felt like you got rear-ended, while in manual mode it was not much better. The shifts are on the slow side, in traffic it seems to be constantly hunting for gears and operating the push button gear select takes some time to take effect. Despite the all that, the sprint to 100km/h takes 8.3 seconds, while braking back to a full stop is done in 43m. Also note, that despite the absence of an automatic start/stop system, our observed average fuel economy was 11.5lt/100km with slightly highway biased driving.
The Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) system reacts in about 20ms intervals, constantly adjusting the ride to the mode you have selected via the Drive Control. There are three modes to pick from, Comfort, Normal and Sport, and you can also select a default mode for D (Drive) and S (Sport). Set the CCD to comfort mode, and the ride becomes very soft and very little is felt in terms of bumps. The downside is, the dynamics become vague and the body feels as floaty as a boat, which I guess kind of goes well with the vehicle. Surprisingly, it was the setting I kept it in, most of the time. In normal mode, the ride firms up just enough to stop it from floating around, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel as comfortable. In sport mode, it firms up quite a bit having a hugely positive effect on handling, but the ride comfort is unacceptable for what it is, so that mode can only be used for short periods of time. In general, handling is confident and fun. Grip limits are not insanely high, so there is lots of room for a playful attitude. Turn-in comes with some understeer that can be controlled by easing off or by sending some power to the back, by increasing the throttle. Especially in sport mode, it feels very similar to the Ford Escape, which actually is the sportiest utility vehicle on the market.
Some really neat features that could potentially romance buyers into getting one, is the reception lights that switch on a set of welcome lights as the key holder approaches. Also, the automatic park assist doesn’t only get you into that tight spot but will also help you get out of it. Further more, you get all the premium features like blind spot monitors, the Lincoln Sync system with navigation, voice commands that only work once the HVAC has calmed down, dual zone climate control, ventilated front seats, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, leather trim and more.
There is a lot to like about the MKC, it is a good little SUV with lots of flexibility in character and an undeniable upscale feel. Hopefully our tester’s gearbox was the exception and not the rule, in which case it would be safe to conclude that the premium compact SUV segment has another good looking contender worth a look. If however all of them are like that, then there are better choices out there like the Lexus NX 200t for example.
Handling in Sport
Voice Commands not heard when HVAC fan is high