If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

2015 Lincoln MKC: The Oppositelock Review

Recovering from a nasty infection of landyacht-itus and rebadgeallthethings, Lincoln (or the "Lincoln Motor Company") has introduced the all new 2015 Lincoln MKC, the upscale, luxury-ized version of the Ford Escape. Have they done it right this time?

(Full Disclosure: Lincoln wanted us to drive the MKC, so they made something that didn't look like a Ford, and it caught our attention when we were looking for a nice, luxury compact utility vehicle around $40,000)

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We took delivery of our MKC on July 11 from a dealer 40 miles away from us. Since then, we've put about 600 miles on it, the majority of which I drove. It took us about a week to fully discover and tweak each little function to our liking, and by now it is completely adjusted to us. So what does this expensive platform mate have to bring to the table that its cousin, the Ford Escape can't?

Exterior: 8.5/10

The MKC is the second vehicle produced by the Lincoln Motor Company which features its new design DNA which featured on the 2013 Lincoln MKZ. It slots into the compact utility vehicle class, competing with the more established models from the Germans, including the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and also some upcoming models such as the Lexus NX. You know it's a big step in the right direction when a Lincoln doesn't look outdated a month after release. The front features Lincoln's signature split wing waterfall grille flanked by the squinty headlights.

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Around back, a one piece, full-width, full LED taillight mounted on a clamshell tailgate, assists the wide and squatting design the MKC evokes. The MKC we bought came with 18" wheels, while base models come with 17" wheels and the highest trim, the Reserve edition, can be optioned with up to 20" wheels. From some angles, the rear wheel and wheel well looks a bit too small for the car, and the plastic cladding at the bottom of the door does detract slightly from the appearance. The mirrors auto fold at the touch of a button from inside, there are touch sensitive door locks on all four handles, and HID headlights and LED "fog lights" up front. It's definitely more than enough to compete with the designs of its competitors.

Interior: 9/10

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This interior is by far one of the nicest in comparison to the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, especially for Lincoln. It feels high quality, everything is bolted in securely, there are no wobbles or loose parts anywhere.

All seats are upholstered in high quality, Bridge of Weir Deepsoft leather. The stitching is perfect and the seats are soft and inviting. Both drivers and passengers seats offer full power control with lumbar adjustment. They are surprisingly cradling and you will not slide around in turns. We have already taken a 2 hour drive in these and it has definitely not disappointed. On the Select trim, the drivers and passengers seats are offered standard with heated seats. The steering wheel is wrapped in Wollsdorf leather, and feels strong and secure in your hands. This steering wheel is a new design and is debuting on the MKC. At the sides, a short thumb's reach away at 4 & 8 o'clock are your controls for radio/phone and cruise control, respectively. At 9 & 3 o'clock, you have dual D-pads for controlling the dash (more on that later). The wheel has manual telescopic movement.

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In the center console, Lincoln also brought over its push-button select shifter mounted between the steering wheel and the 8" center screen, doing away with physical shifter knobs. Arranged from top to bottom for Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, and Sport (Select shift mode), it also hides the start/stop button nicely, making it look less of like a $10 eBay add on. Doing so allows the console below to take a dip down to create a feeling of open-ness within the cabin. A small cubby is hidden by a slide forward panel, featuring two USB ports for charging, one 12V, and also the SD card slot for the navigation. Behind that are two cupholders which grip coffee cups great but water bottles not so much. A deep console box sits behind and provides support for your elbow when you need it. To the side is a small glovebox, but the shelf inside is a plus.

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The rear bench seat is barely a bench, as it has depressions for the outer two seats which do well to keep you from sliding too much. They are also upholstered in the Bridge of Weir leather, and can be specced with heated seats as well.

The front seats offer excellent headroom, shoulder room, and legroom, even with the panoramic sunroof intruding into the cabin a little. In the rear, it can be a little tight if the driver is taller than about 5'8", and headroom can get tight as well, although not opting for the panoramic roof should help a little bit. Rear cargo space is mediocre but enough for the daily groceries and maybe some more. The rear seat folds down in a 60/40 configuration, and the headrests have the ability to fold down so that the seat lie almost completely flat. There is also a rear retractable cargo cover which is mounted right behind the rear seats and is removable.

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There's the option for a huge panoramic sunroof which lets in a lot of light for both the first and second row passengers. As typical, the front part can slide back or flip up, and the back window is fixed.

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The materials used other than the leather are also stunning. Genuine, open pore wood inserts sweep up and out from the center of the car to further create the open sensation, and are not finished with 100 gallons of lacquer. They are accented with aluminum inserts running alongside the wood. Ahead of the dash, it uses soft touch plastics which are molded and adorned with stitching. You can tell that they spent time designing that part of the car, rather than just "oh let's just fill that space". Door rests are also wrapped in the soft leather and have aluminum trimmings on them as well. The interior comes in Ebony, White Sands (beige seats and espresso everything else), White Sands/Espresso (espresso seats, beige everything else), and Espresso.

Performance: 7/10

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(Disclaimer: Picture is of 2.3L Ecoboost. Not my picture)

Our model is equipped with the 2.0L EcoBoost engine producing 240 horsepower and 270 lb/ft of torque, mated to FWD. There are no official 0-60 numbers out there and I haven't had a chance to confirm anything myself, but the 2.3L is estimated at 7 seconds to 60mph, which boasts 45 more horsepower and 35 lb/ft more torque. Although I can tell you, the MKC will not hesitate on the highway. It's definitely not sportscar performance- oh no, definitely not, but for driving and overtaking, you can do so with confidence.

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This power does come at a bit of a price though- I am averaging around 21 miles per gallon in a 80%/20% urban/highway driving habit. I can get the fuel economy up to around 25 on the highway if I watch my speed, but typical cruising at 80 will still only knock you to 22-23. Our cumulative average right now is 20.6 miles per gallon after about 550 miles.

Braking: 6/10

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I push brake. Car stops. There's some dive on full panic braking but it won't rock the drink out of your passengers' hands. ABS comes on unobtrusively and I cannot tell any shuddering or sounds. It is much more than I expected out of this vehicle, I mean, it doesn't even have a Sport badge on it!

Ride: 9/10

I only got the standard suspension, which are MacPherson struts with hydraulic gas shocks in the front, and multi link with the same shocks in the back. There is the optional Continuously Controlled Dampening suspension, but I find the standard suspension setup to do just fine. It absorbs bumps in the road nicely and whatever gets through is "toned down". It also has a nice firm feeling to it and not like it rides on big bouncy balloons. It also prevents major body roll in corners, which is a huge plus, as I don't like rocking back and forth like a yacht in open water. Still remember, this is a CUV, not a sports car.

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Handling: 4/10

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Electric power steering. Sigh. Almost no feel. Self centering works nicely, and no problems with maneuvering through the urban jungle. Steering increases in weight at speed and is feather light in a parking lot, which is handy. Nothing much to say.

Gearbox: 6/10

It's smooth, and it doesn't make noise. It's got 6 speeds. That's right. I'll say it again. SIX SPEEDS!

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Although it does lag behind the competitors, many with 7, 8, or 9 speed transmissions, I don't find it to be a huge issue (other than the marginal loss in fuel economy).

It does have a "Sport" mode, which is just another way of describing the Select-Shift mode. It does have PADDLE SHIFTERS! It isn't obtrusive unless you hit redline, then it'll kick up to the next gear. You can also grab the paddles at any time in "Drive" to downshift for an overtake.

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Toys: 6/10

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MyFordLincoln Touch. It doesn't suck. I'm not sure if Ford has really improved its products, or if auto journalists are just whiny people, but I find it to work flawlessly. Nice loading animations on startup and shutdown, no lag when switching between radio, navigation, climate, and Bluetooth. The Bluetooth phone connectivity works flawlessly and calls come in clear and go out clean of background noise. Navigation will give me some stupid directions, however it isn't something I regularly use unless I'm stuck without a phone.

I give Lincoln big props for admitting their mistake with capacitive touch buttons, and they have returned to physical buttons and knobs (yay!) starting with the MKC. Two knobs for volume and tuning, with a seek rocker bar in between. All the other buttons are for the climate control, which serve as a redundancy to the touchscreen to control temperature, fan speed, and the heated seats. An interesting button is "MAX A/C" which once pressed, overrides all temperature control to blast cold air at full fan speed. It definitely is convenient on hot summer days, especially here in California, and when you press that button again to turn it off, it reverts back to your original temperature settings.

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The dash features a new approach- physical numbering for the tach and speedometer, with digital needles. This allows for a highly configurable screen, including displaying either Trip or Fuel Economy on the left, having GPS directions show up in the middle, having the option to show KM/H on the speedo or not, and also using GPS to pull the speed limit of the road you're currently traveling on.

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You also get remote start standard on the Select trim, the sunroof has a power sunshade, fueling up is done through FoMoCo's EasyFuel capless system, and the parking brake is electronic. There's also a Blind Spot Monitoring System, Navigation, rear view camera, auto-fold mirrors, and almost completely LED (except for front blinkers and HID headlights).

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Audio: 5/10

Inside, the standard 9 speaker audio system works well enough. With a subwoofer and equalizer settings, it does well especially for a standard system. Speaker placement is unobtrusive and creates a nice surround feeling. It plays nice with Bluetooth and USB.

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The MKC does an amazing job at sound insulation. Highway speed is barely but a murmur, and conversations can be continued without raising your voice, and the radio volume does not need to be turned on. The MKC uses passive methods such as lining wheel wells and combines it with active methods including noise cancellation.

I'll be honest...the EcoBoost 2.0L sounds like shit from outside. Lots of clicking and clacking. Exhaust is decent, but on the interior you don't hear much engine or exhaust, if any, which does fit the target audience of the MKC.

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Value: 8/10

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All in all, I'd say this is definitely a great vehicle. At the same price, it will always have more features than the Audi or BMW or Mercedes will have. It's a great car with many, many features which will satisfy almost anyone. The MKC starts at $33,100, while the Germans start at $37k-ish. Performance is almost on spec, with similar horsepower and torque. At this point, it's also got the niche factor of which no other car can really match. You'll be the only one for miles around rolling in a MKC, and whether you're a dumbass or a smartass for doing so...you decide. :)

OPPOSITELOCK REVIEW TOTAL: 68.5/100

*Thanks for reading my first ever oppo review. I'd appreciate any constructive criticism you guys have!

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Engine: 2.0L turbocharged inline four/2.3L turbocharged inline four

Power: 240 HP at 5,500 RPM, 270 lb-ft at 3,000 RPM/ 285 HP at 5,500 RPM, 305 lb-ft at 2,750 RPM

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Transmission: 6 speed automatic with paddle shifters

0-60 Time: 7 seconds (estimated)

Top Speed: No official figure

Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive/ All Wheel Drive

Curb Weight: 3,791 lbs. (Base FWD)

Seating: Two up front, three in back

MPG: 2.0L FWD 20/29/23 MPG, 2.0L AWD 19/26/22 MPG, 2.3L AWD 18/26/21 MPG

MSRP: $33,100 base, $39,620 as tested

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