Expert Reviews

Test Drive: 2019 Lincoln MKC

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

The new-for-2019 Lincoln MKC has arrived with various tweaks, enhancements, and upgrades intended to give luxury crossover shoppers even more of the things they love.

The MKC simply wafts down most roads and highways with creamy smoothness.

Revised styling is cleaner and more dramatic than MKC has ever seen. This might be Lincoln’s most instantly recognizable crossover yet, and the new body encapsulates a suite of technologies that cater to customers after the market’s latest in safety features and functionalities, but without breaking the bank.

A good friend’s father is a loyal Lincoln driver. He’s had numerous Lincoln sedans over the years, prefers a Lincoln crossover nowadays, and has been waiting until one came along in his size and budget ballpark with virtually every conceivable safety feature on the market. He wants all of the safety equipment. Today, it’s safe for him to head to the dealer and try this one out.

Features like blind-spot monitoring, collision mitigation, lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection, a driver alertness system help sell luxury crossovers and they’re all on board here. The adaptive cruise control is smooth, forward-thinking, and consistently predictable in its adjustments to vehicle speed. The automatic high-beams performed flawlessly on my watch too – never failing to engage (or blinding any oncoming motorists) once in 10 hours of after-dark driving.

More impressively? On two occasions during my test drive, the collision warning system detected and alerted me of a transport truck that was unintentionally crossing into my lane just ahead.

These safety features make an even more compelling argument when they’re bundled into a package that’s sensibly priced. Lincoln says half of the MKC’s customers come to them from brands like Mercedes and Lexus – and MKC’s reasonable pricing and generous safety content is partly to thank.

Of course, gadgets alone do not a safe vehicle make – and appreciably, the MKC also flaunts a powerful and urgent brake feel from the first bit of pedal input, adding further confidence. Headlight performance is very good too, thanks to the widespread availability of clean, white light up the way. Finally, the LED taillamp running the width of the vehicle enhances your visibility to other motorists in bad weather, which is a good thing. Peace of mind, and all that.

The MKC feels in its element during a highway cruise, thanks in no small part to the Lincoln Drive Control System’s adaptive suspension. Active optimization of the shocks, with millisecond precision, contributes to a comfortable drive. Equipped thusly, the MKC simply wafts down most roads and highways with creamy smoothness. Most road textures and surfaces fail to spike interior noise levels or harshness. The ride is, usually, consistently good.

Body motions are controlled well, with two key benefits resulting.

First, you get a comfort-first ride that doesn’t feel excessively floaty or blubbery – like a not-yet-set jello cake. Second, even faced with uneven surfaces, the MKC spends more time planted on its wheels, rather than jiggling and rebounding and tossing its occupants around like a delicious Asian Cashew salad kit.

Around town, most rougher roads do little to degrade the MKC’s ride comfort. Even with the suspension being pummelled by the relentless potholes, frost-heaves, and whumps of Sudbury’s roads; I appreciated its ability to filter me from all but the worst abuse hurled my way from beneath. MKC rarely crashes into bumps, and the steering is isolated in a way that mostly eliminates the tug-of-war effect at the wheel common in some machines in these conditions.

Over extremely rough roads that qualify as “worst case scenario”, the suspension becomes noisier but stays well-muted: it’s audible in a way that makes you appreciate how hard it’s working to filter you from the busted-up tarmac passing underfoot. Nothing rides comfortably on roads like these, but a nicely dialled-in suspension with a carefully-tuned around-the-edges softness helps the MKC make the best of it.

If you prefer your comfy cruise with the company of your favourite music deployed at full volume, the up-level THX stereo will prove a feature favourite. It’s a pricey option, though it’s powerful and vivid and clear enough to reveal new details, even in familiar songs.

If you’re running a day of errands, you’ll find boarding, exiting, manoeuvring, and parking to be a cinch. A relatively small turning circle and a light and lazy low-speed steering calibration means MKC is easily manoeuvred in tight quarters, and easy to park. The parking camera system offers supplemental assistance via helpful guidelines and a high-enough-resolution display. And, since those of average size board and exit the MKC with a simple sideways butt-shift (no climbing up or down required), through a big door opening and onto slippery leather, it’s supremely easy to slide in and out of. At times, you wonder if designers built this thing entirely around the seated height of the average human bum.

Rear seats are adult friendly, though headroom tightens quickly for those of above-average height. In back, the cargo hold is what you’d expect, size-wise – though handy hooks and side-mounted cubbies help secure bags and smaller items.

Further, the load floor is, blessedly, at about knee height – which eases the loading and unloading of gear, with minimal lifting. It also provides an easy jump-in height for the family canine. MKC’s cargo hold is well sorted, and won’t cause you any trouble.

The up-level 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo engine generates 285 horsepower and a stout 305 lb-ft of torque. Performance is saucy, with higher-than-expected power in reserve when a quick pass or merge is required.

Just think a step ahead of the action, since the six-speed automatic is shy to downshift without a big boot-full of throttle. Said transmission shifts via a push-button console, which freaks some people out but is, ultimately, easily used and frees up more interior space for nearby storage by doing away with a conventional lever.

Mostly, the engine and driveline operate in smooth silence. Drive gently to moderately, and the big, low-rev torque output glides the MKC along with few enough revs that you barely hear, feel, or otherwise detect the engine at all. If you’re coming into a new MKC out of an older Lincoln crossover with a V6, you’ll note the difference to be stark: this new four-cylinder engine is much more responsive from much lower engine speeds, and since it needs to rev less, more of the time, you barely ever hear it.

That’s a good thing, since the sound at full song amounts to little more than a boring buzz that’s a little too loud, given MKC’s price point.

So far, here’s a handy and easy-to-use machine that hits most of the right marks – though the interior might let shoppers down, depending where they’re coming from.

On one hand, there’s no shortage of unique colours, stitching, accenting, curvaceous edges, and glamorous-looking metallic trim. It’s all dispatched with a techy feel enhanced by multiple, high-resolution display screens. Further, as mentioned, the proportions, and the way the cabin fits you, are quite good. The central command system is also notable: it’s consistently responsive, easily navigated, very easily learned, and designed to effectively provide at-a-glance information. This is one of the most straightforward, no-BS systems my fingertips have ever visited.

Downside? There’s a lot of recycling going on. If you’ll upgrade to the MKC from a few-year-old Ford, you’ll notice that the touchscreen, stalks, switches, buttons, most controls, and even the instrument cluster lifted straight out of an Explorer or Fusion. You might feel right at home, but you might also feel like it’s less of an upgrade to step from your few-year-old Fusion into the latest Lincoln.

Other gripes? Some may find the look a little plain compared to some competitors. You won’t get overly noticed in the MKC. Maybe you like that, maybe you don’t.

Also, there’s minimal fun-factor to be had. That’s not the point of this machine, of course. Still, punchy engine aside, the quick and lazy steering and soft shocks mean the MKC isn’t particularly entertaining on winding roads, and paddle-shift response from the transmission is slow and sluggish. Comfort first, and all that.

Ultimately, your investment here goes largely towards comfort, safety, quiet confidence in a package that’s ready for relaxing travels on shorter or longer trips. For a fully loaded MKC like my tester, that investment is $56,000 – including more than $6,000 in optional add-ons. Skipping the custom paint, big stereo, and 20-inch wheels knocks the price back by about $2,500, and a standard MKC with AWD starts in the low forties.

Engine Displacement 2.3L
Engine Cylinders I4
Peak Horsepower 285 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Peak Torque 305 lb-ft @2,750 rpm
Fuel Economy 13.1/9.5/11.5 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 1,505 L
Model Tested 2019 Lincoln MKC Reserve
Base Price $48,700
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,000
Price as Tested $58,570
Optional Equipment
$7,770 – Ceramic Pearl Metallic $700; Floor Liners $150; THX Stereo $1,100; Trailer Tow Package $500; 20-inch wheels $750; Technology Package $2,420; Canadian Touring Package $2,150