The 2016 Lincoln MKC is a solid choice for those looking for a comfortable compact luxury crossover. A cramped cabin and so-so performance keep the MKC from being a must-have, however.
The main change for the 2016 Lincoln MKC is that it now benefits from the newest generation of Lincoln's touchscreen interface, Sync 3. Also, Lincoln has upped the maximum tow capacity for the 2.3-liter engine to 3,000 pounds, and the Select trim gets a standard power liftgate.Read more
Generous standard equipment; quiet cabin; cushy ride with the optional adaptive suspension; good value.
Lincoln has borrowed liberally from parent company Ford for years, charging a premium for little more than extra leather and an (arguably) more prestigious badge. Imagine our surprise when we first drove the then-new 2015 Lincoln MKC and found that Lincoln's small crossover SUV didn't feel much like a Ford at all. A premium cabin, unique sheet metal, two available turbocharged four-cylinder engines and an optional adjustable suspension made the MKC feel far removed from the Ford Escape with which it shares a basic structure. It's a refreshing change, but whether it is enough to elevate the 2016 Lincoln MKC to top-tier status in the small luxury crossover SUV category is another matter.
Although all Lincolns are Ford vehicles underneath, the 2016 MKC comes off as impressively distinct.
To its credit, there is a lot to like about Lincoln's least expensive offering. Active noise cancellation, sound-reducing glass and extensive use of sound-deadening material make the MKC a seriously quiet vehicle. Ride comfort is superb with the optional adaptive suspension dampers, as the MKC dispatches poorly maintained urban streets without a hint of distress. An extensive list of standard features -- including the new Sync 3 touchscreen interface -- and a low starting price mean the MKC delivers plenty of value for the money, too.
On the downside, though, the MKC comes up a little short on both versatility and driver involvement. The interior can be cramped for taller adult passengers -- especially in back -- and maximum cargo capacity is below average. Regardless of engine choice, the MKC's acceleration is underwhelming, while overly sensitive steering and pedals can make this small Lincoln hard to drive smoothly.
The luxury compact crossover segment is full of great choices. The 2016 Acura RDX and 2016 BMW X3 are the vehicles to beat in this segment, as both are superior in terms of acceleration, handling, seat comfort and cargo space. The 2016 Audi Q5, 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport and 2016 Lexus NX200t are also strong competitors. Overall, the "B" rated Lincoln MKC is one of the best Lincolns in recent memory, but one of these rivals could very well end up being more appealing for you overall.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 Lincoln MKC is a five-passenger compact luxury crossover SUV. There are four equipment groups: Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label.
Standard equipment for the MKC in base Premiere trim (only available with the 2.0-liter engine) includes 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights, rear parking sensors, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leatherette upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), driver memory settings, a four-way power front passenger seat, heated front seats and a 60/40-split folding rear seat with recline. On the technology front you'll find an 8-inch touchscreen with the Sync 3 interface, a rearview camera, voice controls and a nine-speaker audio system with two USB ports and satellite radio.
The Select package adds power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, leather upholstery, a power liftgate, an eight-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar), ambient interior lighting and a cargo cover.
Stepping up to the Reserve level adds a hands-free power liftgate with a foot sensor, a panoramic sunroof, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system, a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert, a 110-volt power outlet and an embedded modem that enables remote communication with the vehicle via the MyLincoln Mobile smartphone app (including GPS location, remote start and status checks for fuel, tire pressures, etc.).
The Black Label variant expands upon the Reserve by adding a roof rack, a black grille, 19-inch wheels, a simulated suede headliner, upgraded leather upholstery with extended coverage (door panels and gauge-cluster hood) and a 10-speaker sound system. It also includes your choice of four exclusive interior design themes. Each choice alters the trim type, seat material, and color of interior leather, seats, headliner and carpet/floor mats. Additionally, it grants access to Lincoln's Black Label program.
Depending on configuration, additional features are also available. The Climate package comes with automatic high beams, automatic wipers, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Technology package contributes front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning and intervention system, a forward collision warning system and an automated parallel-parking system. Stand-alone options include adaptive suspension dampers, 19- or 20-inch wheels and a 14-speaker surround-sound audio system.
The 2016 MKC's cabin is mostly a hit, with available wood inlays and leather-trimmed dashboard surfaces.
Powertrains and Performance
The MKC is powered exclusively by turbocharged four-cylinder engines paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The standard 2.0-liter engine produces 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque and comes with an EPA estimated rating of 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway) in front-wheel-drive form. We verified these estimates with our own 25.8 mpg achieved over Edmunds' 120-mile evaluation loop. The all-wheel drive version is rated at 22 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway).
The optional 2.3-liter mill makes 285 hp and 305 lb-ft and is only available with all-wheel drive. It's rated by the EPA at 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway). Our evaluation loop yielded an impressive 25.5 mpg.
While the engines have relatively strong output numbers, our testing revealed more modest results. At our track, an MKC with the base 2.0-liter engine took 8.0 seconds to accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph, which is slower than average for a small luxury crossover. The 2.3-liter made the same sprint in 7.2 seconds, but other crossovers with upgraded engines are quicker still.
Even with the upgraded engine, the MKC's acceleration is merely average.
The 2016 Lincoln MKC comes standard with stability control, antilock disc brakes, a rearview camera, front-seat side airbags, a driver knee airbag and side curtain airbags. Also standard is MyKey, which allows parents to set electronic parameters (such as maximum speed and radio volume) for when teenagers are behind the wheel. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane departure intervention and a frontal collision warning system with emergency brake priming are optional.
In government crash tests, the MKC earned an overall score of four stars (out of possible five), with four stars for total frontal impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also tested the MKC, giving the vehicle a top "Good" score for its performance in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact and side-impact tests.
During Edmunds performance testing, an MKC with the 2.0-liter engine, front-wheel drive and 18-inch tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, several feet longer than average for the segment. An MKC with the 2.3-liter engine, all-wheel drive and 20-inch tires came to a stop in a much more respectable 119 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
When you first slip behind the MKC's wheel, you may find yourself wondering what Lincoln did with the shifter. Since it's all run by computers anyway, Lincoln has elected to present the MKC's transmission as a vertical stack of buttons to the left of the touchscreen, opening up a handy storage area at the base of the center stack where the shift lever typically resides. The shift buttons themselves don't feel as high quality as we'd like, but we can't argue with the increased versatility that results.
By using buttons rather than a shifter for the transmission controls, the MKC allows for more storage space on the center console.
Overall materials quality in the MKC is good, but below the standards set by its competitors. The tastefully finished wood inlays and available leather upholstery impress, but the generic Ford-spec climate buttons and the dashboard's dull silver-painted plastic trim do not. The standard Sync 3 system, which replaces the generally unloved MyLincoln Touch, utilizes a smartphone-like interface that includes pinch-to-zoom and swiping motions for navigating the menus. It provides Siri Eyes-Free functionality for iPhone users, Bluetooth, audio, navigation and other vehicle functions via a crisp 8-inch touchscreen. Sync 3 is an unequivocal improvement, boasting quicker response times, a more attractive user interface and large virtual buttons that minimize the hunting and pecking that required so much attention in the previous system.
The MKC's backseat offers adequate legroom unless there are tall folks in front, in which case it's pretty cramped back there. You can make it work, but rivals like the Acura RDX and BMW X3 are more accommodating. Cargo capacity is also disappointing. The MKC offers 25.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 53.1 cubes with the rear seatbacks folded down. Other competitors like the RDX and Volvo XC60 are notably roomier.
The 2016 MKC's base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine packs a suitable amount of punch as long as you aren't racing for pinks. The engine and transmission are responsive, and this helps make the MKC feel quicker than it actually is. In real-world driving, the 2.3-liter engine doesn't feel a whole lot stronger; it's also noticeably less potent than the engine-upgrade variants of the Q5 and X3, among others. Moreover, there's a lack of refinement in Lincoln's tuning of the gas and brake pedals. The gas pedal can seem jumpy, while hitting the brakes at any speed reveals a grabby quality. This makes it hard to smoothly come to a stop while traveling around town. You'd probably get used to it eventually, but it's unbecoming for a luxury-branded vehicle.
If you want a luxury crossover with a comfortable and quiet cabin, though, this could be your vehicle. On long highway journeys, the MKC feels smooth and relaxed, particularly with the adaptive suspension dampers. And thanks in part to a standard active noise-cancellation system, it's also very quiet. When the road bends, though, the MKC is less appealing. The comfort-tuned suspension allows a lot of body roll, or lean, which cuts back on how precise the MKC feels. This is still largely the case, even with the optional adaptive suspension set to its sportiest mode.