2015 Lincoln MKC
The newest target for the crossover craze is small luxury utilities. Auto makers can’t seem to bring them to the market fast enough to satisfy a public hungry for luxury in a small yet versatile package. The most recent brand to plunge into the mix is Lincoln, with the compact MKC. Let’s see if this latest Lincoln can help the brand “escape” their current also-ran status and head back to prominence.
With their last few all-new vehicle launches, Lincoln has made a big deal about that particular model being the one to reverse a decline in sales and image. Well indeed, things are finally starting to look up this year on both counts and their latest, this 2015 MKC will certainly help further the cause.
This compact, premium utility is without a doubt the right vehicle at the right time; as small luxury utes are springing up everywhere, and people are just as eagerly snatching them up. And it doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to discover that being incredibly quiet and ultra-comfortable were clear priorities in this design. Long distance cruising is where the MKC’s ride really shines.
Lincoln Drive Control includes Continuously Controlled Damping and the usual Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes to tailor your driving experience. Perhaps surprisingly, handling is on par with its primary European rivals, yet the ride remains smooth and controlled no matter the drive mode setting.
It’s all turbo-4, all the time, under the hood of the MKC. You choose whether you want the boost coming from the Escape’s 240-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost or a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost that outputs 285-horsepower and 305 lb-ft. of torque.
We spent all of our early drive time around Santa Barbara, California in a 2.3 and found it to be super torque-y feeling and spirited around town. But once the roads got more interesting, it and the 6-speed automatic transmission didn’t always seem to be on the same page, as there was occasional hunting for gears and power. All-wheel-drive is standard with the 2.3 and available on the 2.0. Torque Vectoring Control is standard on all.
Lincoln didn’t release a 0-60 time, but the 2.3 should just best the Escape 2.0s 7.0-seconds. Towing capacity is actually greater with the 2.0-liter, but at 3,000-pounds it’s still rated 500-pounds less than in the Escape.
Like the MKZ sedan, the trans is controlled by push buttons on the dash. It works fine, unless you’re in a hurry doing 3-point turns, as there is some lag time between Drive and Reverse.
It’s lux to the max inside, as most materials are both good to look at and touch. With the possible exception of the center stack, where function appears to overcome form. But kudos to Lincoln for actually adding buttons and knobs to the Sync with MyLincoln Touch interface.
Front seats are large and comfortable and just about every current tech feature you can think of is available. Rear seats are equally comfortable and the space is pretty roomy for a compact. As for storage, cargo volume is also less than the Escape at 25.2 cubic-ft. behind the 2nd row, expanding to 53.1 cubic-ft with the standard 60/40 split-folding seat backs lowered.
Wow factor features include an epic panorama Vista Roof, and approach detection with cool but gimmicky welcome mat lighting.
The same can be said about the highly sculpted exterior. It looks cool and very athletic, yet also a little attention-seeking.
The MKC obviously shares the Ford Escape’s chassis, but body panels are more smooth and classy than edgy. Upper bodylines are reminiscent of the Hyundai Santa Fe. Out back, the full width tail lights and unique wraparound lift gate give the appearance of a road-going, art deco toaster.
The retro split winged grille is back, and here less objectionable, though none of our crew appreciated the tired 90’s gray cladding that encircles the MKC.
Taking self-parking to the next level is Park Out Assist which helps guide the driver out of tight parallel parking situations.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 2.3 are 18-City, 26-Highway, and 21-Combined with Regular gas. Making the Energy Impact Score very much average for all vehicles at 15.7-barrels of annual oil consumption with CO2 emissions of 7.0-tons.
Base pricing of $33,995 is probably the best news yet, as that is significantly less than most rivals. But stepping up to the 2.3-liter requires a more considerable investment. Technically, it’s only about 11-hundred dollars more, but as for now, Lincoln requires you to also step up to Select trim, which brings your total to $40,860.
And that’s where things get muddled for the entire small luxury crossover segment. When you hit that 40K mark, there are quite a few larger options out there. Still, among its smallish peers, the 2015 Lincoln MKC stacks up well as it is a very nimble, well-crafted piece. And, it will certainly do its part on putting the Lincoln brand back on track.
- Horsepower: 285
- Engine: 2.3-liter
- Torque: 305 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds est.
- EPA: 18 mpg city/ 26 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 15.7 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 7.0 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined