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Best luxury crossover contender: 2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC

2017 Lincoln MKC Buying Advice

This is the best premium-compact crossover for you if you hanker to “Buy American” in a segment dominated by import brands. Lincoln’s entry-level crossover is one of only two from a U.S.-based manufacturer that’s also assembled here. The other domestic entries in this class are from General Motors: the Cadillac XT5, built in Tennessee, and the Buick Envision, imported from China.

Model-year 2017 changes for the MKC are fairly modest. The previously optional power liftgate is now standard across the board. All models equipped with the standard engine receive a fuel-saving idle stop/start function. The infotainment system also gets an upgrade to Ford’s Sync 3 platform with support for Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto.

Should you buy a 2017 model or wait for the ’18?

MKC bowed for the 2015 model year, so the 2018 seems ripe for a freshening. Should it get one, expect updated exterior and interior styling and probably a shuffling of features and options. Engines likely won’t change, but the current six-speed automatic transmission could be upgraded to a more efficient automatic with eight or even 10 gears.

The refined and handsome ‘17 MKC is still worth considering, though, especially if you wish to sample Lincoln’s shot at delivering a Lexus-level customer experience. The ‘17 lineup consists of Premiere, Select, and Reserve trim levels. Lincoln also offers the MKC through its “Black Label” sub-brand, tailoring trim and equipment within “Themes” it calls Center Stage, Indulgence, Modern Heritage, and Oasis.

Black Label vehicles have their own styling elements and a shopping experience company officials claims is superior to that of the competition. Interested buyers initiate contact online, where a single representative guides them throughout the entire purchasing process. The liaison goes to the customer with a “mobile showroom” to show material samples from the different Themes. The purchased vehicle can then be delivered via a “private fitting room” at a certified Black Label dealership or directly to the customer’s home or business if it’s within 30 miles of the dealer. Additional Black Label benefits include 4 years or 50,000 miles of no-cost scheduled maintenance with remote pick-up/drop-off and complimentary loaner car. Buyers are also given access to the Lincoln Culinary Collection, where they can receive priority reservations and personalized dinners at a number of high-end restaurants. The Black Label program started with 32 dealers in six states but will expand to 120 stores in 23 states by the end of calendar 2016.

2016 Lincoln MKC

Changes

Styling:

Visually unaltered from its model-year 2015 debut, the ‘17 MKC retains a crisp, contemporary look that is very distinct from the mainstream Escape. The interior is a delight for the senses, with rich materials and a central dashboard control stack that cascades from the top to a point where the climate controls float above the center console. Instead of a traditional transmission floor shifter, drivers select their desired gear via a stack of pushbuttons to the left of the infotainment screen. It’s a clever arrangement that also frees up some storage space.

Less pleasant are passenger and cargo space. Front-seat occupants have no better than adequate legroom. The available power panoramic moonroof steals headroom. Back-seat passengers will find legroom cramped as well. With about 25 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and 53 with them folded, MKC ranks near the bottom of the competitive set.

Mechanical:

All MKC models use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive (AWD) is a $2,405-$2,495 option, depending on trim level. The base engine for all models displaces 2.0 liters and produces 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. For an extra $1,140 on AWD versions of the Select, Reserve, and Black Label you can upgrade to a 2.3-liter with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque.

While we’ve not evaluated an MKC with the 2.0-liter, it’s the same engine used in certain versions of the Ford Escape and delivers more than enough power for any driving situation. The 2.3-liter turns the MKC into a little hot rod. There’s a hint of lag before the boost kicks in, but overall, this Lincoln can more than hold its own against rival V-6-powered premium-compact crossovers, such as the Acura RDX or Audi Q5.

Features:

Even the base Premiere model comes pretty well equipped out of the gate. It includes heated front seats with 10-way power adjustment for the driver and two-position memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access with pushbutton ignition, rear-obstacle detection, remote engine start, and a power liftgate. The Select adds leather upholstery, 10-way power adjustment for the front-passenger seat, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, and power-folding exterior mirrors. The Reserve gains a panoramic moonroof, navigation system, cooled front seats, blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic detection, and a hands-free power liftgate. The Black Label’s standard equipment mirrors that of the Reserve but adds unique paint colors, wheels, and interior trim.

Prices

Starting at $33,645 for a front-drive Premium and topping out at $49,945 for an AWD Black Label with the 2.3-liter engine, MKC prices are more in line with those of rivals such as the RDX and Volvo XC60 rather than upper-echelon premium-compact crossovers like the Q5, Mercedes Benz GLC and certainly the Porsche Macan. (Base prices in this review include Lincoln’s $925 destination fee.)

With the 2.0-liter, the Premier starts at $33,645 with front-drive and $36,055 with AWD, the Select at $36,645 and $39,050, and the Reserve at $40,410 and $42,820. Base price for the Black Label is $46,400 with front-drive and $48,805 with AWD. With the 2.3-liter and AWD, the Select is priced from $40,190, the Reserve from $43,960, and the Black label from $49,945.

Certain paint colors add $495-$1,750. Premiere options are limited basically to $45 for daytime running lights and $645 for a Class II trailer hitch. The Select trim offers a $650 adaptive suspension; a $1,700 panoramic moonroof; and a $1,045 premium audio system. The $605 Climate Package adds heated rear outboard seats, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beam headlights, and a windshield wiper de-icer. The $1,100 Select Plus Package includes blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert and an in-dash navigation system.

The $2,295 Technology Package for AWD Reserve and Black Label models adds radar-based adaptive cruise control, hands-free parallel parking, forward-collision alert, and lane-keep assist.

Fuel Economy

Fuel-economy ratings are near the back of the pack. With the 2.0-liter engine and front-wheel drive, the EPA rates the MKC at 21/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined. With AWD, the same engine rates 19/25/22 mpg, or 19/25/21 with the idle stop/start system. Despite its extra horsepower and torque, the 2.3-liter turbo doesn’t penalize you too much at the pump, coming it at 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined.

Engine idle stop/start works by shutting off the engine while stopped and restarting it when the driver releases the brake pedal. Unlike most premium-class crossovers, Lincoln does not require or even recommend premium-octane gasoline.

Release Date

The ‘17 MKC went on sale in spring 2016.

What’s next for the MKC?

As we said above, we expect the 2018 MKC to undergo some form of freshening in a similar manner to the 2017 Ford Escape. Some sources have said that the vehicle will be redesigned entirely, but since the MKC not actually that old, we don’t think that will happen. A fully redesigned version is unlikely before the 2020 model year.

Competition

Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and X4, Buick Envision, Infiniti QX50; Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Porsche Macan, Volvo XC60

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]