• Small, luxury SUV previews potential future production vehicle.
  • Four-passenger design features rear bucket seats.
  • 'Lincoln Experiences' personalize settings and preferences.

Luxury automaker Lincoln aims to fulfill a strategy of introducing four all-new models over the next four years, and if the Lincoln MKC Concept just revealed at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show makes it to production, the small luxury SUV will be among them.

Lincoln says it's focusing on the fastest growing vehicle segments for its four new models. In the luxury market, buyers are flocking to small sport utilities and crossovers. With the MKC, Lincoln could have a worthy competitor to popular luxury models like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Infiniti EX.

Visually, the MKC Concept clearly reveals signature Lincoln design elements, especially in its "split-wing" grille design. But the exterior design is decidedly sportier than anything in the current Lincoln crossover lineup. And inside, Lincoln's extensive use of fine materials makes the MKC -- at least in concept form -- a worthy rival for the best models in the small luxury crossover segment.

The muscular look of the exterior comes courtesy of bold character lines above the wheels, with the crease over the rear wheel wrapping around to the liftgate. Like the Audi Q5, the cutline for the liftgate -- the seam where the liftgate and body meet -- is on the side of the vehicle, not the rear. A first for a Lincoln SUV or crossover, the design gives the rear of the vehicle an uninterrupted look, and allows for a wider opening for loading cargo. The liftgate-mounted taillights resemble the continuous line of lights on the latest Porsche 911.

The interior is bright and airy, thanks in part to a fixed panoramic roof that spans the entire length of the cabin. Details like personalized ambient lighting and push-button transmission controls are likely to be included in an eventual MKC production vehicle. Extensive leather, which Lincoln uses for the seats, door panels, pillars and even in the cargo area, may be dialed back for production, at least in the lower trim levels. And while the rear bucket seats are attractive, a three-passenger bench would be a more practical for the real world.

A new personalization program called "Lincoln Experiences" could be both luxurious and practical. The automaker says its latest technology suite will allow the driver to customize a range of settings, from ride and handling controls to lighting preferences. For drivers, "Lincoln Experiences" should arrive seamlessly -- the vehicle recognizes the driver and automatically adapts.

Lincoln has announced no concrete plans to bring the MKC to production. But with the popularity of the small luxury crossover segment growing, a contender from Ford's luxury brand seems like a good bet.

What it means to you: Lincoln plans to introduce four all-new models over four years. The MKC Concept -- a small luxury crossover revealed at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show -- is likely to be among them.

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What do you think about the Lincoln MKC Concept? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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