What Is It?
The 2015 Lincoln MKC is a compact luxury crossover that's based on the Ford Escape. With styling all its own, an upscale cabin and extra power on tap, the MKC looks to be a compelling new option in this crowded segment.
There's a long history of mainstream vehicles giving rise to entry-level luxury versions, and it's not always pleasant. The quintessential "badge job" is the Cadillac Cimarron, an ill-fated 1980s Cavalier spinoff that's still a punchline 30 years later. But we're sure the new Lincoln MKC will avoid that fate. For one thing, it's based on a very good crossover in the nimble, well-appointed Escape. But just as important, it also receives a number of meaningful upgrades that support its higher price.
The improvements start under the hood, where the MKC sports a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that pumps out 275 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. The Escape's top-shelf 2.0-liter turbo maxes out at 240 hp and 270 lb-ft, so the MKC has some added bounce in its step. But now take a step back and look at the MKC's exterior. Would you ever guess that this sleek, confident crossover was based on the Escape? We think Lincoln's design team has done a masterful job of disguising the MKC's workaday roots and presenting it as a legitimately premium product.
Inside, the MKC continues to distinguish itself with a unique dashboard highlighted by Lincoln's unusual push-button gear selection panel (the P-R-N-D-S drive modes are accessed via buttons next to the infotainment interface). Premium materials abound, including eye-catching wood trim. On the road, the MKC benefits from exclusive adaptive dampers with three modes -- sport, normal and comfort -- to suit different driving scenarios. Safety features include active lane-keeping assist and a blind spot warning system.
Look for official pricing info closer to the MKC's launch next year. We'll hazard a guess that Lincoln's new crossover will start under $35,000.
When Can You Get It?
Add It to Your Shopping List Because...
The current Escape is one of our favorite compact crossovers, and we've always said it feels a little fancier than the norm. Well, now there's a truly fancy Escape in town, and based on what we know so far, the 2015 Lincoln MKC looks like a serious entry-level luxury contender.
Other Cars to Consider
Audi Q3 -- It's not on the market yet, but it should be by the time the MKC arrives. Smaller than the Q5, the sporty Q3 is a direct MKC rival.
BMW X1 -- The X1 will likely be cheaper than the MKC to start, but its interior isn't that nice for a BMW; this crossover is more about performance and value.
Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class -- The refined GLK is hard to fault, and Mercedes has continually improved this C-Class-based crossover over the years. It can get pricey, though.
Used Infiniti EX -- We have a soft spot for this V6-powered luxury hatchback on tiptoes, and with Infiniti's certified pre-owned program, you could get a nice low-mileage specimen with a warranty for a great price.