Crossovers are taking over the world. I am not particularly fond of crossovers. But thanks to a gnarly parking brake on my 147,000 mile, 2000 Town Car Cartier last September, I found myself behind the wheel of one. Lincoln’s smallest CUV, the MKC, first came on the scene in 2014 as a ’15 model. So one Tuesday morning, I found myself behind the wheel of one. And…I didn’t hate it.
For all the angry old timers carping about the death of the Town Car in 2011 and that the new Continental doesn’t have suicide doors, the current crop of Henry Leland’s forebears are nice cars-particularly inside.
“That’s not a Lincoln!” is a regular cry from angry Monday morning quarterbacks on social media. “It’s just an Escape/Fusion/Taurus!” “It looks like a Kia!” “I’d never buy one!” And so on. Well, that’s all fine and good, folks. But you see, Ford Motor Company is designing cars for people to buy new. The truth of the matter is that those ticked off people MIGHT buy a modernized 1961 Continental-once it’s five years old and selling for $17K. There’s no percentage in that for Ford.
And, ya know, those Town Cars everyone uses as a gold standard were, for the most part and longer wheelbase notwithstanding, just plushed up Crown Victorias, LTDs and Grand Marquises. My old friend Dick McCarthy knew it, and he drove Town Cars for twenty-five years. It’s called platform sharing, and it isn’t anything new.
Heck, if there were social media wonks in 1956, they’d have almost certainly been equally snide: “That’s just a tarted up Fairlane! There’s no running boards like a real Lincoln! There’s no side-mounted spare tire like a real Lincoln! There’s no golf bag compartment, dagnabit! That’s what a REAL Lincoln would have!”
But I digress. The MKC is the smallest crossover in the Lincoln lineup. But hey, it’s a crossover! So it sells. Like the genuine SUV, like the original minivan before it, it’s the latest and greatest style, and new car buyers are eating it up. I don’t particularly care for them. If you want space, get a minivan. If you want comfort, get a sedan. If you want utility get a four-door long-bed pickup. But these rolling bar stools are hip, happening and what’s now, man! So Ford and all the other makers would be damfools to not offer as many as possible.
Oh, right. The car. Kinda forgot about it, heh! Well, it’s not a Town Car, and it’s not an LS460, but it isn’t meant to be. What it’s meant to be is a plush little hauler. And it is. The leather bucket seats were comfortable, and while it had a center console like 98% of all new cars, it was nice and slim, nothing like the tipped-over refrigerator that passes for a console in a new Taurus.
Visibility wasn’t bad, though there are blind spots when merging thanks to the D-pillars and large headrests on the back seat. Acceleration was brisk, though there was a slight hesitation off the line. Not sure if it was my unfamiliarity with this car and a touchy go-pedal or if it was just the four-pot getting up off its feet and stretching. UPDATE: it appears this was the start/stop ‘feature.’ Yay, technology. Yay.
Yes, the MKC is not a squared off 1982 Town Car with a landau top and coach lamps built into the B-pillar, but inside is soft leather, genuine wood, and all the usual suspects in digital entertainment.
My loaner was a 2.0T. Yes, the two-liter turbo four, which is taking over the world. I’d much prefer a V6 or V8 and no failure-prone booster under the hood, but that’s getting tougher and tougher to find in this day and age, unless you’re shopping pre-2010 motor vehicles.
For such a small mill, acceleration was brisk, With AWD, these get 19 city and 25 highway, not drastically different than my V8 Town Car. It had no trouble keeping up with traffic or passing on the highway as I drove to the office that morning. Power is 245 hp and 275 lb-ft, unless you plump for the 2.3 turbo, which bumps things to 285 and 305 respectively. Push-button transmission is standard, with said buttons to the left of the radio/GPS screen. Which frees up space for several compartments on the center console.
Of course, being the smallest Lincoln, there are compromises. I had plenty of room, but not the stretch out room I’m used to in my old car. I’ve driven both the current MKZ and Continental, and both had much more space. But those are, like, sedans and like, they’re so uncool to the urban yuppies and lease-happy suburbanites. So the MKC/MKX sell, and seem to be the most common Lincolns in traffic here-though I see a healthy helping of MKZs as well. So maybe there’s hope.
My car had the panorama roof, which definitely increased the airiness of the cabin, along with the Cappucino leather seats and trim. The pearl-white paint would pass muster in any country club. But if you feel like a rebel against the current white/gray/black flock of new leased lux cars, Lincoln has a beautiful ruby red metallic available. I don’t see it nearly enough.
27,048 were built in model year 2017, and I suspect at least 22,000 were either white, silver or black. ‘Tis the style-or so I’m told.
So, if you are browsing crossovers, or your wife is making you do so, the MKC is worth a look. Best of all, it has none of the pissed-off Nissan Murano wedges, whorls and swage lines of the Lexus RX or even uglier pissed off aardvark stylings of the Lexus NX (for nixed?). And these can be had in lightly used CPO form for a healthy percentage below a brand new one. If that trips your trigger, check one out.
As for me, I’ll keep driving my old prairie schooner and keep an eye out for a ruby red CPO Continental!
Special thanks to Strieter Lincoln of Davenport, IA for use of the vehicle. Next up: The 2018 Continental!
These are our appliance future. People sometimes rag on the late eighties front drive Cadilacs for not being Acura Legends or Audi 5000, which as import buyers they prefer. But Cadillac had to build cars in a completely new way to deal with CAFE and other 80s realities. Yet they still managed to incorporate an aluminum V8 with ample low end torque, relaxed gearing, soft suspensions and ample sound insulation so that their traditional buyers could still find a modern vehicle to their tastes. Import buyers hated it of course at first sight, probably more even than the big ones that came before.
If the CUV is the car of the 2010s than Lincoln faced a similar challenge to build a small CUV. What I don’t see is any real effort to give buyers what they had in the old cars but in the modern package. Instead a lot of benchmarking imports as if they would ever consider a brand they find repulsive. A 2.0 turbo is fine in countless imports so must be here. A leather that is no better or worse than Lexus. Loose pillow velour?, are you nuts. A little wood in exactly the same places you will find it in all the competitors. Tire choices that vary between too big and way too big but never seem to have any sidewall, never mind a sidewall with a white stripe. Some may like all this benchmarking but it just kills the late me-toos like this. The only engineering excellence I see in these is at Ford credit, where they manage to slightly undercut Lexus, Audi, and BMW lease deals despite the lower residuals. Sad, why offer a Lincoln choice if it is not recognizable in look and feel a Lincoln.
He doesn’t mention in this review, but I read that the MKC has a soft wafty suspension that the Escape does not.
Also, that is the strength of Lincoln. Caddy over engineers the hell out of new tech laden sports sedans, but makes money on antiquated boats based on Chevies. It was true in the 80’s, and it still true today. Lincoln just loads up Fords, and no matter how bad the sales are they won’t lose money because they were going to build that Escape anyways.
But this car is too safe, and while it hurts to take risks on engineering, it doesn’t hurt to take risks on styling. Check out the Volvo XC40 for a compact crossover that distinguishes itself. Love or hate Doug, there is almost nothing in the car’s interior he doesn’t film.
You make a great point about how well the current crop of Volvos turned out. I am sure I am not the only one who thought they were done for when our Chinese friends took over with Goldman Sachs financing. I remember a few years ago seeing 2 S60 on the dealer lot. One Swedish with the normal Japanese transmission and German electrics but made in Sweden. The next year looking the same but Chinese assembled with Chinese parts. But then out of the blue a new generation of cars arrive, designed and made in Sweden with Swedish sensibilities. Manna from heaven. We have a 2018 V90, our first Volvo purchase in 10 years. If only Lincoln and Cadillac had the confidence to do that for America.
I did not expect Mr. Tom Klockau to be so young considering his usual subject matter. You’re an old soul, as they say.
Also, you could be my twin. For that, I apologize.
Anyways, I like the review. No, it’s not a TC. But is is about as nice a C-segment CUV as you can get, which is the point.
I didn’t expect him to look like me, with the same shirt I was wearing yesterday and have the same haircut down to the sticking up part.
My shirt wasn’t an assassin, but then again I did buy it from Marshall’s 2 years ago.
“27,048 were built in model year 2017, and I suspect at least
22,00027,000 were either white, silver or black”
Interior looks nice. Still hate CUVs, stop/start, and turbo fours in anything other than a hot-hatch.
Looks like a Buick Encore. In your previous post, it looked like a 2008 Ford Edge (OK I don’t know much about Fords so I made up a year). But most definitely a stretched Buick Encore!
P.S. Since you brought up start/stop… I rode in the back seat of a new Enclave and that thing hemmed and hawed getting to speed—I wonder if that’s the transmission or some sort of start/stop feature? Eww. It was bad.
Encore pic, can’t find any good angles to “prove” my point:
For whatever it’s worth, I recently had an Infiniti dealer tell that used Lincolns were “lot poison” (and he said Jaguar was the same).
Ironic because Infinitis are also lot poison!
Lincolns are terrible buys new because if you like what they offer, the comparable Ford in top-line-trim offer 98% the same niceness for a substantially lower price. On the other hand, by the time they get off lease, it seems the lot poison Lincoln version is often cheaper than the Ford equivalent, which makes the 2% better Lincoln a much better used buy.
I got a smile with your “suicide doors” crack at the opening.
The Honda Escape had suicide doors. Didn’t seem to help sales much…which were respectable, but not with the target customers.
The old mold is broken, it seems; and carmakers, in their eagerness (and need) to please government regulators, seems to have forgotten what the buyer wants.
And who the buyers today ARE. Kids today don’t have the money for new cars, and don’t have the interest. The Car Culture is a thing of the past.
It’s the 50-plus drivers who buy, and off the new-car lot.
And 50-plus drivers, don’t much like stooping down into the banana-jellybean mold “styled” in wind tunnels to get an additional one MPG in the CAFE rating. No, they want to step in, at their height – as they did with the 1955 Chevrolet or the 1975 Jeep Wagoneer or the 1988 Dodge Caravan.
Which means the CUVs are where it’s at. And that’s why, in this period of slowing auto sales, it’s those cute-utes that are selling.
Suicide doors or no.
I love that you’re snarky about the anachronisms still insisting on suicide doors and RWD. Why should Ford care what they think if they never buy their cars new?