Now wearing the face of the full-size Navigator, the 2019 Lincoln MKC ups its game with an alluring new look, new features and all the luxury one would expect from Ford’s premier luxury division. Elegant, affordable and rather athletic, the MKC offers a worthy challenge 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, two turbocharged engine options deliver a good blend of fuel economy and power, while an available adaptive suspension improves both ride and handling.
What’s New for 2019?
For 2019, the Lincoln MKC adds pedestrian detection to its collision avoidance system, gets new connectivity and enhanced ownership services, plus a redesigned front face and rear end.
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 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is an admirable 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 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 2019 Lincoln MKC is offered in four trim levels: Base, Select, Reserve and Black Label. Note that the 2.3-liter engine can be added only to the Reserve and Black Label trims.
The base MKC ($34,920 FWD; $37,330 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 6-way for the passenger), a power liftgate, 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 ($37,675 FWD; $40,085 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 ($41,550 FWD; $43,9603 AWD) goes to town with another 18-in wheel design, heated and cooled front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free liftgate with a foot sensor, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, 110-volt outlet, a navigation system and compatibility with a special Lincoln smartphone app providing vehicle status reports, GPS location services and more.
The Black Label ($48,125 FWD; $50,535 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 2019 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 2019 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 its Ford Escape cousin (the two share the same platform), 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
2019 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 X3 M40i) for those so inclined.
2019 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.