If you’re looking for information on a newer Lincoln MKC, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Lincoln MKC Review
The 2018 Lincoln MKC delivers full-size Lincoln luxury in a compact crossover as elegant as it is affordable. Like many of its closest competitors, the MKC shares its basic architecture with a lesser model, in this case the Ford Escape. This gives the MKC the sporty underpinning many buyers find so attractive, an attribute that often draws them to foreign makes like the Acura RDX, Lexus NX 300 and Audi Q3. However, the question confronting Lincoln is whether the MKC’s styling, power and features can really justify its premium price. We think for luxury buyers, the answer is yes.
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 Certified Audio 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 2018?
For 2018, the MKC adds a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot to its standard equipment roster. See the 2018 Lincoln MKC models for sale near you
What We Like
Sleek styling; quiet, comfortable ride; peppy turbocharged acceleration; uptown interior appointments
What We Don’t
Small back seat and cargo hold
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 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with standard front-wheel drive (FWD), dropping to 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive (AWD).
The optional 2.3-liter turbo 4-cylinder cranks it up to 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. It comes with AWD only but manages to be nearly as fuel-efficient as the base AWD model, checking in at 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.
Both MKC engines are teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Lincoln MKC is offered in four trim levels: Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label. Note that the 2.3-liter engine can be added to any MKC trim.
The Premiere ($34,280 FWD, $36,690 AWD) comes standard with 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED headlight and taillight accents, keyless entry with push-button start, heated front seats with power adjustments (12-way for the driver and 4-way for the passenger), a power lift gate, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera, a 9-speaker stereo with the SYNC 3 system with an 8-in touchscreen, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, voice controls, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and USB- and SD-card connectivity.
The Select ($37,035 FWD, $39,445 AWD) 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 power adjustable steering wheel with its own upgraded leather and an 8-way power passenger seat with 4-way lumbar.
The Reserve ($40,910 FWD, $43,320 AWD) goes to town with 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 rear cross-traffic alert, a navigation system and compatibility with a special Lincoln smartphone app providing vehicle status reports, GPS location services and more.
The Black Label ($46,400 FWD, $48,805 AWD) expands on the Reserve by adding 19-in wheels, an adaptive suspension, an Alcantara headliner, Venetian leather seating, additional leather covering the dash, doors and console, an upgraded audio system and a choice of unique Black Label interior-design themes. Owners also have full access to the Black Label service, which includes a personal shopping liaison, complimentary car washes and detailing and a premium maintenance plan.
Options include 19- or 20-in wheels, a 14-speaker THX II Certified Audio system, a panoramic sunroof, Lincoln Drive Control adaptive suspension and three packages: the Select Plus package (navigation and BLIS), 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, a windshield de-icer, 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 cu ft. That’s more on par with hatchbacks or small wagons than comparable luxury crossovers. The same goes for the MKC’s back seat, which is adequate by default but quickly shrinks when the front occupants slide their seats back. "Compact" is the word for the MKC’s cabin.
The 2018 MKC earns four out of five stars in the government’s front and rollover crash tests, and five stars in the side-impact test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the MKC its best rating of Good in the moderate-overlap front- and side-impact crash tests.
The MKC comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver’s-knee and full-length side-curtain). Optional safety features 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 2018 MKC, we tipped 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). The climate buttons look like they came from the Ford parts bin, but they’re better than the virtual buttons found in some rival cars.
On the technology front, the latest SYNC 3 upgrade is a vast improvement over the previous MyLincoln Touch system. If you crave the latest tech, you’ll love the extraordinarily deep feature set. We should warn you about the available THX II Certified Audio system, too, because 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 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 a gimmick, as 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, but there’s still ample turbocharged thrust on tap, no matter which engine you select. The base FWD model is quicker than you’d think, as it’s significantly lighter than AWD examples.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 BMW X3 — The X3 is a formidable all-around competitor with generous interior dimensions, and it offers a high-powered 355-hp model (the turbocharged 6-cylinder M40i) for those so inclined.
2018 Lexus NX — The NX 300 presents a sharper image, more luxury and performance features and superior resale. There’s also a hybrid NX 300h model delivering a combined 33 mpg fuel economy rating.
Used Lexus RX 350 — Considered the gold standard for luxury SUVs, a 2012-2016 Lexus RX 350 will give you more interior room, a smoother ride, better acceleration and better long-term resale value.
The MKC is at its best with adaptive dampers and the THX II Certified Audio system, but we could do without many of the other add-ons. If you can find one with just those options, you’ll have a lot of car for under $40,000.