The 2015 Lincoln MKC compact luxury crossover is derived from the popular Ford Escape, and let's be clear: There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you don't believe us, just take a look at two of the MKC's most notable rivals, the Acura RDX and the Cadillac SRX. You can't tell at a glance, but they're based on the mainstream Honda CR-V and Chevy Equinox, respectively.

So here's the real question: Is the MKC sufficiently better than the Escape to justify its premium pricing?

If you ask us, the answer is yes, and we'll tell you why. First of all, the MKC looks great on the outside, but it also has a unique interior with available high-end leather upholstery. Under the hood, the base 2.0-liter turbo is the Escape's top-of-the-line engine, and the 2.3-liter turbo is an MKC exclusive. Additional MKC-only options include an adaptive suspension and a thumping THX II sound system, both of which are must-haves in our book.

Do you absolutely need this stuff? Of course not, but that's the whole point of a luxury vehicle. If you're looking to get a little fancy with your next crossover, the MKC certainly makes a compelling case.

What's New for 2015?

The MKC is an all-new compact luxury crossover.

What We Like

Sleek styling; quiet, comfortable ride; peppy turbocharged acceleration; uptown interior appointments

What We Don't

Small back seat and cargo hold

How Much?

$33,995-$40,930

Fuel Economy

The MKC's base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is an admirable 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway with standard front-wheel drive, dropping to 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive (AWD).

The optional 2.3-liter turbo four cranks it up to 285 hp and 305 lb-ft. It comes only with all-wheel drive but manages to be nearly as fuel efficient as the base AWD model, checking in at 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.

Both MKC engines are teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is offered in three trim levels: Premiere, Select and Reserve. Note that the 2.3-liter engine can be added to any MKC trim.

The Premiere ($33,995) comes standard with 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED headlight and taillight accents, keyless entry with push-button starting, heated front seats with power adjustments (10-way for the driver and 4-way for the passenger), leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera, a 9-speaker stereo, and MyLincoln Touch infotainment with an 8-in touchscreen, SYNC voice controls and USB and SD-card connectivity.

The Select ($37,225) throws in different 18-in wheels, a universal garage door opener, auto-folding side mirrors with LED turn-signal indicators, exclusive Bridge of Weir leather seating surfaces, a fancier steering wheel with its own upgraded leather and an 8-way power passenger seat.

The Reserve ($40,930) goes to town with yet another 18-in wheel design, heated and cooled front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free lift gate with a foot sensor, a blind spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert, a navigation system, and compatibility with a special Lincoln smartphone app that provides vehicle status reports, GPS location services and more.

Options include 19- or 20-in wheels, adaptive suspension dampers with selectable modes, a 14-speaker THX II Certified sound system and two packages: the Technology package (adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning and self-parking systems) and the Climate package (heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams and rain-sensing front wipers).

Cargo capacity behind the MKC's rear seats measures a modest 25.2 cu ft., while folding down the rear seatbacks only opens up 53.1 cubes. That's more on par with hatchbacks or small wagons than comparable luxury crossovers. The same could be said of the MKC's back seat, which is adequate by default but shrinks quickly when the front occupants slide their seats back. Compact is definitely the word for the MKC's cabin.

Safety

The 2015 MKC comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee, full-length side-curtain). Optional safety features are offered via the Technology package and include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning and self-parking systems. Interestingly, the lane-departure warning system can provide gentle steering inputs to correct a wayward course, though it will not assume full control of the vehicle.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation of the 2015 MKC, we had to tip our cap to the good folks at Lincoln for creating a genuinely luxurious environment. The dashboard, door panels and upholstery are pure Lincoln, including the brand's distinctive push-button transmission interface next to the center stack (there's no gear lever to be found, though there are shift paddles on the steering wheel). Yes, the climate buttons look like they came from the Ford parts bin, but at least they're better than the virtual buttons you get in some rivals.

On the technology front, the MyLincoln Touch (MLT) infotainment system has elicited mixed feelings from reviewers and owners alike, but if you crave the latest tech, you're going to love MLT's extraordinarily deep feature set. And we should warn you about the available THX II sound system: Once you hear it pump out your favorite tunes like you're in a surround-sound movie theater, it'll be hard to resist forking over the extra dough.

On the road, the MKC is very quiet on most surfaces. Lincoln worked hard to differentiate the MKC from the Escape in this regard, and it's readily apparent at highway speeds. Another unique offering is the optional adaptive damping system, which provides driver-selectable modes ranging from couch-comfy to Euro-firm. This isn't just a gimmick; it really works on both ends of the spectrum. With or without those nifty dampers, the MKC shares the Escape's sharp, sporty character when pushed, so it makes quick work of twisty 2-lanes. In a straight line, the MKC's nearly 2-ton curb weight with AWD holds it back a bit, but there's still ample turbocharged thrust on tap, no matter which engine you select. The base front-wheel-drive model is quicker than you'd think, as it's significantly lighter than AWD examples.

Other Cars to Consider

Audi Q5 -- It may be getting on in years, but the Q5 clearly inspired the MKC's styling, so it's still a trendsetter. If you want authoritative acceleration, try the supercharged 3.0T model.

BMW X3 -- The X3 is a formidable all-around competitor with generous interior dimensions, and like the Q5, it offers a high-powered model (the 6-cylinder xDrive35i) for those so inclined.

Cadillac SRX -- With big power from its standard V6 and a suitably sophisticated cabin, the SRX stands out, and we haven't even mentioned its avant-garde styling.

AutoTrader's Advice

The MKC is at its best with the adaptive dampers and THX stereo, but we could do without many of the other add-ons. If you can find one with just those options (which total $1,645), you'll have a lot of car for well under $40,000.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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