2015 Lincoln MKC first drive review

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With the 2015 MKC, Lincoln finally has a model that's going to play well in California.

Let’s face it: Those in Dearborn focus so much on doing the right thing for Lincoln, the Brand. But outside of the Midwest, for the most part, Town Cars are Town Cars; Navigators are Navigators; and Lincoln's current larger sedans and crossovers, like the MKS, MKX, and MKT, are mysteriously absent. In California, almost as in China, where Lincoln is just starting to break through, the brand is a clean slate—a clean slate with a little bit of intrigue, perhaps, a la American boom-time ‘heritage brands.’

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From this point? Lincoln’s best bet is to go contemporary, providing a modern vehicle that's right in stride with what the market demands right now—and what those younger, first-time luxury shoppers might want. If they can then pack in some of the brand’s heritage style into the end product, all the better, but it's secondary.

Luckily, what the market demands right now are more vehicles like the 2015 Lincoln MKC. So-called compact luxury crossovers are booming. Affluent professionals are choosing them instead of mid-size sedans, and they're packing enough features and comfort to prompt empty-nester types to downsize from larger SUVs.

In a spirited drive of this all-new compact luxury crossover this past week, on Southern California mountain roads that would have had passengers whining and suspensions wallowing in many Lincolns of yore, we found the MKC to be a quiet, sporty, capable rival for some of the best luxury crossovers on the market.

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Related, but not replicated

To get the obvious question out of the way first: Yes, the MKC is based on the underpinnings of the Ford Escape, and it carries forward with quite a few parts with that model underneath; but it doesn’t share the same sheetmetal or roofline (the roofline is an inch lower, the beltline is a bit higher, and the sheetmetal is a good deal more voluptuous and interesting from the side. 'Graceful athleticism' is a keyword, and it shows that in its stance, while the clamshell tailgate and horizontal tailgate are refreshingly different in a class of relative lookalikes. It's assembled at the same Louisville, Kentucky, facility as the Escape (to some tighter standards, officials add), but it's also definitely no closer to the Escape than the Cadillac SRX is a Chevy Equinox.

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