2019 Lincoln MKC 2.0T Select (USA)

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Following the presentation of a concept vehicle at the 2013 North American International Auto Show at the start of the year, Lincoln debuted the production version of their MKC at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, with the model going on sale in June 2014 as a 2015 model year car. The surprise is that they did not offer it sooner. They certainly had the essential ingredients, as despite the fact that no body panels are shared, under the skin this entrant in the mid-sized luxury crossover segment is basically a Ford Escape, a model which has been around for many years. Certainly, when the Escape’s slightly larger brother, the Edge, was launched, back in 2006 as a 2007 model year car, it came with a posher Lincoln version, the MKX, right from the outset. Quite why it took so many years before Lincoln added this model to their range is unclear, as the market for more luxurious and premium-priced products in this segment had been proven by a number of other players, notably the Germans with the Mercedes GLK, BMW X3 and Audi Q5, and extended further as each of them added a smaller model to their respective ranges, though it could be argued that there was a posher first generation in the guise of the Mercury Mariner. But Ford killed off the Mercury brand in 2009 and since that time, there has been no luxury version of the car until the arrival of the MKC. Hertz have not generally been featuring Lincoln products in their fleet for some time, but I did notice that a small number of the MKC did appear in late 2017, but I never managed to source one of these, and they all seemed to disappear after a year or so in service. More recently, though, a series of Lincoln models have finally been added, and I have already managed to source both a Continental saloon and a Nautilus crossover, and then, to make it three Lincoln products in a row, I found the car being reviewed here, a 2019 model year MKC in 2.0T Select guise and with the standard front wheel drive.

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For the 2019 model year, the MKC received a refresh, which amounted to a visual change, abandoning the split-wing grille for the current rectangular corporate grille which now features on the rest of the range. Nothing else was changed, so the car remains very much as it was at launch back in 2014, with only mind spec changes having been applied as part of each model year’s revisions. Probably one reason for this is because an all new third generation Escape will go on sale in 2020 and a Lincoln version, called the Corsair will follow soon after.

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When I got in the MKC, I picked up the key, which clearly did not need to be inserted in the dash to start the car, so I looked for the Start button. I had been driving a Lincoln the day before and it was to the right of the wheel, but there was nothing there, nor on the console. And then I spotted it, at the top of the vertical column of buttons on the dash, to the left of the audio unit display screen, with the others being used to select your gears. This being a 4 cylinder car, the noise that you get when you press that button is fairly uninteresting, as you might expect. The engine is a 2.0 litre turbo four cylinder which develops 245 bhp and 275 lb/ft of torque and is coupled to a six speed automatic gearbox. There are paddles, but I found it easier to leave the MKC’s gearbox to do things of its own accord. A more powerful 2.3 litre unit is an option, but you may find that the 2.0 is sufficient for the job in hand, as the MKC seemed to go quite well, with decent levels of acceleration available. The gearbox is well matched and makes smooth changes between the ratios. Noise levels were well suppressed, making the Lincoln a peaceful freeway companion. I covered 142 miles during my day with the MKC and it needed 6.5 gallons to fill it, which works out as 21.85 mpg US or 26.1 mpg Imperial, which seems on the low side, but as ever with a rental car, it may well have been less full than it was when I returned it.

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Like most Ford Motor Company products, the steering is among the best you will find, with a nice precision and perfectly judge weighting. The MKC does understeer if you go enthusiastically into the bends, and there is a certain amount of body lean, so whilst this is one of the more enjoyable SUVs to drive, it is still not up to the standard set by the Mazda CX-5. The ride does vary depending on the road surfaces with a certain amount of pitching evident. This version of the MKC came on 235/50 R18 wheels. The brakes worked fine, and there is an electronic handbrake which is somewhat buried on the dash. Visibility is mostly good and the MKC features the useful feature of a second piece of glass in the upper portion of the door mirrors to alleviate the blind spots.

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Just as the outside of the MKC shares nothing with the Escape, nor – thankfully – does the interior. And it is all the better for that. Lincoln have tried hard to imbue the MKC with a quality feel and by and large, they have succeeded. There is a lot of leather used here, on the dash, and the door casings as well as the seats and the bit you touch, the steering wheel. Contrasting colours of very dark brown and rather pale almond were used in the test car and this made the cabin feel light and airy. The dash is nicely uncluttered in appearance, something you would never say about the current Escape. There is a simple curved binnacle which covers the electronic instruments. Power the car up and these illuminate, with two large dials, for revs and speedometer, and smaller water temperature and fuel level inset in the lower of these, respectively. A digital speed repeater sits between the two, or some other option. You can configure what is presented there as well as in the centre of the rev counter using selection buttons on each of the steering wheel spokes. That means that the buttons for cruise control and audio repeater options are in site inside the spokes. The dials are clearly presented and easy to read, and quite different from Ford ones with their characteristic turquoise markings. Twin column stalks are used for indicators and wipers, with lights on a rotary dial on the dash to the left of the wheel. The centre of the dash is dominated by the touch-sensitive colour display screen, with a line of buttons for gear selection down the left hand side, and mostly blank switches to the right. The infotainment system is based on Ford’s latest MyFord Sync 3 system, and proved easy to use with the system being very responsive. Navigation was fitted to the test car and the graphics on the map were clear and easy to read. Sound quality of the audio system was very good. There are a couple of knobs below the unit for on/off and tuning. Below these is a panel of buttons for the dual zone climate control. And that is it. All simple to use and quite elegant in overall appearance.

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In the Select trim of the test car, you get leather upholstery, and the quality seemed good, with a nice soft finish to it. There is full electric adjustment of both front seats, with buttons to do this on the side of each seat. Initially I found the rather soft headrest to be pushing my head too far forwards, but investigation revealed that you can vary the positioning of them as well as their height, and this resolved the issue. There is electric adjustment for the steering wheel, which telescopes in/out as well as up/down, so it was easy to get the right driving position. And once I had, the seat itself proved very comfortable, just soft enough that it was still supportive. Some have said that the seats are a bit narrower than on some cars, but I did not find this a problem.

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Whether you think there is enough space in the rear of the MKC might depend on where the front seats are positioned, Set them well forward, and there is ample leg room but if they are towards the rear of their travel, as was the case for the passenger seat when I collected the car, then the amount of space is somewhat limited, and surprisingly so considering the size of the car. You can vary the angle of the rear backrest using the same lever that you pull to fold the seats down. This being a crossover, headroom is not an issue. Occupants here get a drop-down centre armrest and the rear face of the centre console contains not just air vents but the buttons for the rear seat heaters that were an option fitted to the test car.

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The tailgate is electrically assisted, which is just as well, as it is large and heavy, made all the more so because it wraps around the rear edges of the car. Opening and closing it is faster than on some cars with an electric motor doing the work. I was pleased to see that there was a load bay cover fitted, something which seems not to feature in that many US market models. The boot floor is flush with the base of the tailgate so sliding heavy objects in and out would not be hard. The boot is quite a modest size, as it is not that deep from floor level to the load cover and not that long from back to front. There are the usual hooks on the sides to anchor things down, and a couple of small stowage nets for very small items. Under the floor there is a space saver spare, but there’s not much room to put any bits and pieces around it. More space can be created by dropping the asymmetrically split backrests down, using a lever which is at the base of the backrest, and difficult to spot. I found I had to move the passenger seat forward a bit for the backrest to drop down completely, though removing the headrest would have removed the need to do this. The resulting floor area is not quite flat, as it sloped upwards a bit, but this does give you a lot more space for longer items. Inside the cabin, there is good provision for odds and ends. The glovebox, which is split level with a shelf in it, is simply massive. There is a deep cubby under the central armrest with a small tray in the top of it, and a lidded area in the centre console which hides the 12V socket and USB ports would also prove useful. Between this and the armrest cubby are a pair of cupholders, and there are bins on the doors. For those in the rear, there is a drop-down central armrest which included pop-up cupholders, and there are map pockets on the back of both seats as well as bins on the doors.

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There are four trims to choose from when buying an MKC. All feature the turbocharged 2.0-litre 240 bhp four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional in all trims for around $2,400. You can add the more potent 2.3-litre turbo-four to all but the base trim for about $3,500. There’s no badging on the cars to tell you the trim, but, very helpfully, the paperwork in the glovebox. with the State registration, declared that the test car was a Select, and the emissions plate under the bonnet confirmed that it had the 2 litre engine installed. The MKC Premiere is the base trim, and it has a starting price of around $33,000. It comes standard with leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, two USB ports, Bluetooth, a nine-speaker audio system, satellite radio, a proximity key, Lincoln’s MyKey system, remote start, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The MKC Select starts at around $36,000. In addition to the Premiere’s features, the Select comes with leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger seat, and a power-adjustable tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel. You can add a panoramic sunroof for $1,700 and a THX audio system for about $1,000. Two option packages are available as well. The Climate package costs about $600 and adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. For about $1,100, you can add the Select Plus package, which includes navigation and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. Both of these were fitted to the test car. The MKC Reserve starts at around $40,000. It comes with a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, a hands-free power liftgate, navigation, and blind spot monitoring. The Climate package is also available for the Reserve. The Technology package (about $2,300) is also available and includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, front parking sensors, lane keep assist, and parallel park assist. Top of the range is the Lincoln MKC Black Label, which starts at around $46,000. It comes with several styling upgrades and a few interior updates, such as premium leather upholstery. The Black Label offers the same packages as the Reserve trim.

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I rather liked the MKC. Unless you have an awful lot of stuff to carry, it should prove big enough for most family’s needs, it is good to drive and it is nicely finished. Although carrying premium badging and finished to a far higher standard than the Ford Escape with which it shares much that you cannot see. The Ford is that bit more athletic-feeling from behind the wheel, but the MKC fights back with a better quality interior and more power. Of course it costs more, but not so much as to make the decision an easy one, and compared to its rivals with premium badges, the MKC is competitively priced, especially at the lower end of the range. 2019 was the final model year for the MKC, though, as for 2020 it is replaced by a new model, with a new name, the Lincoln Corsair. It is based on the next third generation Escape, and will appear in showrooms towards the end of 2019. Let’s hope that Hertz get some on fleet so I can see how it stacks up.

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