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Lincoln MKC and MKX

Lincoln MKC and MKX - Ford's upmarket brand Escapes its roots and hones its Edge

By Jim Bray
August 3, 2017

If you're looking for a compact or mid-sized crossover from Ford but want something a little more exclusive, Lincoln just may have what you're seeking.

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The MKC and MKX, which are up market versions of the Ford Escape and Edge, respectively, are both comfortable and luxurious vehicles that drive well and will coddle your bones nicely. I spent a week in each of these vehicles recently and came away quite impressed. I think they'd be even more impressive if the manufacturer would integrate more completely the terrific new interior found in the excellent Continental, but in the meantime you get a better and nicer Ford for a not-too-unreasonable premium over the garden variety Fords.

Escaping from the ordinary…

My favourite of the two is the MKC, for the mere reason that it's more a size I like. It isn't hard to see the Escape under the surface, but the MKC manages to Escape its more mainstream brother by adding a more attractive body style and a bunch of luxury and creature touches designed to raise this vehicle's premium profile - which it does quite well.

Lincoln Canada's sample MKC Reserve carried a starting price of $48,000 CAD, not including a $700 premium for the attractive White Platinum Tri-coat paint and a couple of other options. It got its power from a two litre inline four cylinder engine (a more powerful 2.3 litre engine is available as well) rated at 240 horses @ 5,500 rpm and 270 torquey things @ 3,000 rpm. It's smooth and there's plenty of power, though perhaps those of the lead footed persuasion might prefer the other engine's 285/305 hp/torque figure. I didn't really find myself wanting more oomph, though.

Both engines get their power to all four wheels (with a front bias) via a six speed automatic, with paddles, that shifts very nicely. 18 inch wheels are standard on the "base" MKC, but if you opt for the larger engine you can have 19 or 20 inch ones installed instead.

Lincoln's sample MKC also came with a trailer tow package ($500) and the $2250 Technology Package that gives such wonderful stuff as active park assist, adaptive cruise control with collision warning (a voice comes over the audio system yelling "Collision Alert! Abandon ship!" Okay, I'm just kidding.). It also includes parking sensors and a lane keeping system you can shut off if such things offend your sensibilities or just rub you the wrong way.

The options, and other typical fees, brought the as-tested price of the MKC Reserve to a healthy $53,450, which is getting to be serious coin, especially considering a Porsche Macan carries an entry price of $54,100 (though that's for the "bare bones" version). Lincoln's sample also featured a handy power tailgate.

Still, the MKC is very nice. As is usual for me, I preferred to keep the MKC in Sport mode (activated via the typically Lincoln selector buttons that are mounted just to the left of the centre stack). The responses are tightened up a tad  from the rather soft default positions, and this adds a nice helping of driving enjoyment.

Lincolns now get Ford/Lincoln's much improved Sync 3 infotainment system, which replaces the MyFord/MyLincoln Touch system that was a lot more complex to use. Sync 3 features simpler menus, works more quickly, and with better voice recognition. I hope Lincoln brings the Continental's steering wheel control design to the rest of the line, too, because the MKC and MKX basically mimic Ford's cascading menu extravaganza that takes a lot of concentration - something you don't want when you're driving.

The interior is definitely a step up from the Escape, thanks to soft leather all over the place and it really lifts the luxe level. One thing that isn't particularly up market is the standard audio system, which is fairly ordinary in its sound quality, though you can order a more powerful THX-certified system that's probably better.

The drive is comfortable but not plush, thankfully, with the MKC using adaptive dampers through three modes (Comfort, Sport and Normal) and even in comfort mode the vehicle showed little signs of wallow.  

As usual, I really liked the big, panoramic sunroof and found the handsome and comfy interior a very rewarding place to spend some time. The rear seat is best for two - and gets really tight if you put in one of those huge child seats The Man forces parents to use these days - but it doesn't seem worse than some  competitors.

And as is common in upscale vehicles, you can set the driver's seat to slide backward to facilitate getting in and out more easily, though when the seat is back the foot well of the rear passenger space gets very tight, even if you just want to toss a couple of grocery bags onto the floor back there.

Supersizing the MKC

The MKX is to the Edge as the MKC is to the Escape, and of course there's nothing wrong with that.

Lincoln Canada's sample also carried the "Reserve" designation, with a starting price of $52,000 CAD, which isn't a lot more than the MKC considering how much extra material is required to expand the vehicle from compact to midsize (I wonder if they have big stretching machines at the factory).

It's okay to look upon the MKX as a big MKC because they're very similar inside and out, with a Lincoln familial mien. The MKX is as luxurious as you'd expect, and performs as it should.

Lincoln's sample came with the optional 2.7 litre turbo V6, which is rated at 335 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. A 3.7 litre V6 is available as well, and it puts out 303/278 hp/torque. If it were my money, I'd go for the turbo, which displays minimal lag but which puts the power down to the four wheels in a very satisfying manner.

The test MKX upped the standard ante with a cargo utility package ($350) that added a rear cargo management system, mat and cargo cover, and the $1100 Technology Package added active park assist, front parking sensors and a 360 degree camera. The $2500 Driver Assist Package adds lane keeping assist (as with the MKC, it's defeatable via a button on the end of the signal light stalk), adaptable cruise control with collision warning and adaptive steering that, especially when combined with Sport mode, makes the MKX feel almost as small as the MKC. A $2950 "Canadian Touring Package" included 21 inch premium wheels and a Luxury Package ($5,500) included adaptive LED headlights and the much upgraded Revel Audio system.

Rounding out the options was the $500 trailer towing package, a $75 enhanced security package (a big guy with an assault rifle accompanies you everywhere you go) and the 22 way power adjustable driver's seat, which added $1,500 to the tally - bringing the grand total to just shy of 70 grand ($69,275, including destination and delivery charges). That's not cheap! Fortunately, the MKX is very nice.
On the other hand, a pretty loaded Jaguar F-Pace S starts at $68,500.

I dumped all over the Revel audio system when I tried it in an MKZ in the fall of 2016, but got to experience it again with this MKX and this time I had the presence of mind to create a USB drive with some high resolution audio files on it with which to test the system. And it really does rock! The amp is plenty powerful and the speakers are definitely up to the task. This proves that the law of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) remains in effect.  

The cabin is comfortable and very nice - basically the MKC stretched - and it works fine, though as with the MKC I hope Lincoln will as much as possible adapt the Continental's interior to the next version.

The MKX rides a tad softly in its default settings, but as with the MKC you can tweak this via sport mode settings that eliminate almost every hint of wallow.

I had two strange issues with the MKX, which makes me think that perhaps Ford/Lincoln may still have some concerns to pursue (I've had strange electrical issues with Ford/Lincolns before). They were pretty minor this time, and one may have been self-inflicted: once when I was taking stuff out of the rear compartment, the hatch started coming down on my head. I may have activated the system myself by accident, however, so am not quite ready to blame Lincoln for that. I don't usually do that, however.

I will blame 'em for the time I was using the Bluetooth and voice recognition to call a friend, only to have the system crash and reboot. This is the kind of issue I've seen before; I imagine it's fixable easily under warranty (though I have no experience in this) or perhaps it was a one time "flutter." I just don't know.

"Flutters" notwithstanding, either of these luxury SUV/Crossovers should serve their customers well, offering good driving experiences and plenty of comfort and convenience features.

Copyright 2017 Jim Bray

Jim Bray is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. His columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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