Lincoln arrived to the fashionable, crowded compact luxury SUV party with the MKC. Basing it on the accomplished Ford Escape should be a great place to start, but weighing down the package with too much jewelry hides the car's natural talent.
In contrast to the Escape's composure, the Lincoln bobs around too much on the road; the ride never settles down. Three optional adjustable suspension modes enable the driver to dial in the desired dynamic personality, adjusting for comfort and agility, but none of the selections strikes the right balance. Handling is ultimately secure but not as agile as other small luxury SUVs. The Lincoln feels larger in corners than it really is -- the opposite of what you want.
While a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine is standard, our test model had the up-level 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder. This engine delivers enough power, but it doesn't offer the same effortless thrust as a V6. Adding insult to injury, many competing V6s get better fuel economy than the four-cylinder MKC's 19 mpg overall. And the Lincoln requires frequent fill ups, with its small gas tank limiting cruising range to about 300 miles.
Inside, the MKC is quiet and luxuriously finished, but it's still not as comfortable and livable as a luxury SUV should be. Seats aren't all that supportive, and left foot room is scarce for the driver. The pushbutton shifter takes some getting used to, but has comprehensive safeguards against the car accidentally rolling away when parked.
The rear seat is low and tight for adults. Cargo capacity is modest, but the MKC has several neat features such as the ability to open the rear hatch hands-free by swiping your foot under the rear bumper.
On the plus side, the controls combine easy buttons and knobs with the excellent Sync 3 infotainment system. With large on-screen buttons and simple screen logic, this touch screen system is a big improvement over the MyLincoln Touch system found on earlier MKCs.
Ultimately, the MKC falls far short of the class best. In fact, most of us would rather buy a loaded Ford Escape Titanium rather than the supposedly more-luxurious Lincoln.