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2017 Lincoln MKC REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 5/8/2017

Introduction: It would be easy to dismiss the 2017 Lincoln MKC as just a Ford Escape in a fancier pair of clothes. Such comments would be understandable given past Lincoln efforts, but things have changed. The MKC still shares some mechanical bones with the Ford Escape, but it doesn't look anything like its plebeian cousin. The cabin is substantially nicer and the driving experience is far more refined.

Beautiful styling is a Lincoln MKC trademark.

To its credit, the MKC does stand out with an exceedingly quiet cabin. It also offers a very effective driver-adjustable suspension that allows you to custom tune the feel of the MKC depending on your mood. An extensive list of standard features for the money should also garner attention among those looking to get the most stuff for their buck.

There are a few areas where the MKC is less appealing than some of its competitors. The backseat and cargo area are small, while some of the interior parts don't look or feel very high quality.

Some other competitors to consider in the class include the Acura RDX, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Lexus NX 200t, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class or Volvo XC60. Most of these options are indeed more expensive, so you have to decide what you can live without or what is a must have when it comes to features and performance.

Pro: More standard features than many of its competitors; heavily insulated cabin remains quiet at all times; order the optional adjustable suspension for an especially supple ride.

Con: Less room in the backseat and cargo area compared to many competitors; slower than average acceleration from either of its available engines; some interior materials look cheap considering the price point.

Interior: When you first slip behind the MKC's wheel, you may find yourself wondering what Lincoln did with the shifter. Lincoln has elected to present the MKC's transmission as a vertical stack of buttons to the left of the touchscreen, opening up a handy storage area at the base of the center stack where the shift lever typically resides. We can't argue with the increased versatility that results, but the shift buttons themselves don't feel as high quality as we'd like.

Along those same lines, overall materials quality in the MKC is OK, but below what is presented by Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, just to name a handful. Far more competitive is the standard Sync 3 system, which utilizes a smartphone-like touchscreen interface that, when equipped with navigation, further includes pinch-to-zoom and swiping motions. It provides Apple CarPlay and Siri Eyes-Free functionality for iPhone users as well as Android Auto. We've found Sync 3 to be an agreeable user interface and appreciate its large virtual buttons that minimize the amount of time your eyes are away from the road.

Perhaps the MKC's greatest weakness is its lack of space. Backseat legroom is tighter than most rivals, with tall folks up front creating a squeeze for those in back. Cargo capacity is also disappointing. The MKC offers 25.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 53.1 cubes with the rear seatbacks folded down. Most competitors offer more, with the Acura RDX, Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60 being the class leaders.

Body: The 2017 Lincoln MKC is a five-passenger compact luxury SUV available in four trims/equipment groups: Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label.

Standard equipment on the MKC Premiere includes 18-inch wheels, tinted rear windows, automatic xenon headlights, LED running lights, a power liftgate, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote ignition, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), driver memory functions, leather upholstery, a 60/40-split reclining and folding backseat, the Sync 3 touchscreen electronics interface, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio, two USB ports and a nine-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a CD player and a media player interface.

The MKC Select includes auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, an eight-way power passenger seat, a power-adjustable steering wheel, ambient interior light, a cargo cover and upgraded leather on the seats and steering wheel. Options include a panoramic sunroof and the Select Plus package (a navigation system, pinch-and-swipe Sync 3 functionality and a blind-spot warning system).

The cabin offers novel features like the push-button transmission and classy color schemes.

The MKC Reserve includes those Select options along with a hands-free power liftgate, ventilated front seats and an onboard modem that allows for remote functions. Nineteen- and 20-inch wheels are also available.

The MKC Black Label adds to the Reserve equipment 19-inch wheels, a multimode adaptive suspension (known as CCD, optional on Select and Reserve), upgraded leather upholstery, extended leather interior trim, a simulated suede headliner, unique exterior and interior trim, and special color choices.

The Select, Reserve and Black Label can also be equipped with an optional 14-speaker THX II sound system and the Climate package (heated rear seats and steering wheel, automatic high beams, automatic wipers and a wiper de-icer).

The Reserve and Black Label can be equipped with the Technology package, which adds adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning and mitigation system, lane-keeping assist and an automatic parking system.

We Recommend

Of all the variations offered, we would recommend the MKC Select. It has an ample amount of technology, comfort, convenience and luxury equipment while keeping the price well below $40,000. It's also the first trim available with the recommended continuously controlled damping (CCD) adaptive suspension.

All-wheel drive is optional with the 2.0-liter engine and standard with the 2.3-liter.

Driving: The 2017 MKC's base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine packs a suitable amount of punch. The engine and transmission are responsive, and this helps make the MKC feel quicker than its bottom-of-the-pack acceleration numbers would indicate. In real-world driving, the 2.3-liter engine doesn't feel a whole lot stronger. It's also noticeably less potent than rival base engines, let alone other upgrades. Moreover, there's a lack of refinement in Lincoln's tuning of the gas and brake pedals. The gas pedal can seem jumpy, while hitting the brakes at any speed reveals a grabby quality. This makes it hard to smoothly come to a stop while traveling around town. You'd probably get used to it eventually, but it's unbecoming for a luxury-branded vehicle.

If you want a luxury crossover with a comfortable and quiet cabin, though, this could be your vehicle. On long highway journeys, the MKC feels smooth and relaxed, particularly with the highly recommended CCD adaptive suspension dampers. And thanks in part to a standard active noise-cancellation system, it's also very quiet. Handling is far less responsive and engaging than most rivals, but we ultimately think this shouldn't be a problem for those shoppers more interested in its comfort credentials.

What’s New: For 2017, the standard Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system gains Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone interfaces. A power liftgate and an automatic brake hold feature are also added to the already ample standard features list.

The MKC is powered exclusively by turbocharged four-cylinder engines paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The standard 2.0-liter engine produces 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque and comes with an EPA rating of 23 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway) in front-wheel-drive form. We verified these estimates with our own 25.8 mpg achieved over Edmunds' 116-mile evaluation route. The all-wheel-drive version returns 21 mpg combined (19/25) or 22 (19/25) when equipped with the optional automatic stop-start system (standard with front-wheel drive).

Optional on all but the base Premiere is a 2.3-liter engine that produces 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. It's only available with all-wheel drive and returns an EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined (18/25). Our evaluation route yielded an impressive 25.5 mpg.

While the engines have relatively strong output numbers, our testing revealed more modest results. At our track, an MKC with the base 2.0-liter engine and front-wheel drive took 8.0 seconds to accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph, which is slower than average for a small luxury crossover. The 2.3-liter made the same sprint in 7.2 seconds, which is also slower than the base engines of many competitors, let alone their engine upgrades.

Safety: The 2017 Lincoln MKC comes standard with stability control, antilock disc brakes, a rearview camera, front side airbags, a driver knee airbag and side curtain airbags. Also standard is MyKey, which allows parents to set electronic parameters (such as maximum speed and radio volume) for when teenagers are behind the wheel. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane departure intervention and a frontal collision warning system with emergency brake priming are optional.

In government crash tests, the MKC earned an overall score of four stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for total frontal impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also tested the MKC, giving the vehicle a top "Good" score for its performance in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact and side-impact tests.

During Edmunds performance testing, an MKC with the 2.0-liter engine, front-wheel drive and 18-inch tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, several feet longer than average for the segment. An MKC with the 2.3-liter engine, all-wheel drive and 20-inch tires came to a stop in a much more respectable 119 feet.

Standard features are plentiful, including the rearview camera.

Edmunds Say: Are you looking for a compact luxury SUV that favors comfort and convenience over hard-edged performance? Then consider the 2017 Lincoln MKC. Its well-insulated cabin isolates you from the world outside while the high-tech, yet easy-to-use features assure that you're always well connected. Sound like your kind of SUV?

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