There are a couple ways to think about luxury vehicles.
One is what the luxury brand signifies. What it stands for in the minds of consumers. What it means. The status it provides to the person who drives one.
The other is what it is. Its physical attributes. What it provides. How it is designed. Engineered. Built. What you are actually getting for your money.
There are vehicles that have a badge that say “luxury” to the world. The vehicle in question, however, may be really not all that luxurious, or at least there are other vehicles that offer equal to or better than amenities and execution yet they come at a non-luxury price.
There are vehicles that have the badge yet the badge doesn’t have the resonance, the signification. Yet the vehicles are well built. Well executed. Full of the expected—or possibly even unexpected—features for the category.
Lincoln is in a zone that sort of splits the middle.
For some people, the “Lincoln” brand has a resonance of luxury. For these people, Lincoln is truly aspirational. However, many of these people are those who are not in a demographic that has too many vehicles left in their future. And Lincoln needs to have a whole new cohort to “think Lincoln.”
For this last set of people, “Lincoln” may be something that they sort-of know is in an upper class, but they really don’t have any strong sense one way or the other. They know what Mercedes and BMW mean. Lexus has been on the scene sufficiently long to gain viability and share of mind. They now know that Audi is a player. And Cadillac has been earning its place at the spreadsheet table with some competitive vehicles for the past few years.
It is interesting to note that Lincoln, in its advertising for the MKC, describe it as “The First-Ever Lincoln MKC.”
Which is somewhat puzzling to me. Luxury is in many ways about heritage. It is about earned credibility. So the “first-ever” is a bit puzzling.
I think if I was writing the line, I would use a different modifier. Like “The Remarkable Lincoln MKC.” Because it really is a well-executed vehicle, one that people ought to talk about.
The vehicle that I drove had a base MSRP of $35,595. All-in (including $895 for destination and delivery), it came to $48,770. Which is a non-trivial amount of money to spend on a small sport utility vehicle.
Which brings me back to the physical attributes, to what it provides for the money. And I would say that there is value there. Especially on the interior. Which really matters most.
The $49K comes with a bevy of items. A Homeric list. Heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and Bridge of Weir leather. There is a heated steering wheel. Panoramic roof. Pushbutton start and pushbutton shift. Enhanced THX audio. SYNC. And while on the technology route, there is adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake assist. There is lane-keeping assist. There is active park assist (for both getting into a spot parallel and getting out of same).
The wood is wood and open pore. The trim is executed with panache, not just with a Teutonic approach.
The vehicle has a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine that produces 285 hp, and as the curb weight of the all-wheel-drive MKC is on the order of 3,963 lb., that is a sufficient amount of power.
The MKC, first or not, is simply well done. It holds its own with products from the luxury marques. But unlike them, Lincoln is back earnings its luxury stripes, and in the case of this vehicle, there is some evident overachievement going on. Which, for the customer, is certainly a good thing.
It is a crossover you buy for what it offers, and what it offers is more in the tangible sense. Lincoln keeps doing vehicles like this, then the non-tangible will come along in some short order.
Engine: 2.3-liter EcoBoost, DOHC, inline four
Horsepower: 285 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 305 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Steering: Electric power assist
Wheelbase: 105.9 in.
Length: 179.2 in.
Width: 73.4 in.
Height: 65.2 in.
Curb weight: 3,989 lb.
Seating capacity: 5
Passenger volume: 97.9-cu-ft.
Cargo volume behind first row: 53.1 cu. ft.
Cargo volume behind second row: 25.2 cu. ft.
EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 18/26/21 mpg