Review: 2015 Lincoln MKC Black Label AWD
| May 18, 2015
The reintroduction of the Lincoln brand comes with many readjustments to the way business is conducted today. The 2015 Lincoln MKC Black Label AWD is a textbook example of the new style that is now in vogue. It was introduced right around the time actor and Lincoln spokesperson Matthew McConaughey began receiving payments to drive a Lincoln.
One of the brand's new hallmarks is the addition of the Black Label Studio. Designed to turn owners into members, it borrows directly from the Lexus playbook. Whether that's a good or bad thing is up to the eye of the beholder, but still the Black Label Studio will offer personalized service including sales people showing up on your terms at your house, workplace or at the dealership.
The Black Label experience also offers themes, which include interior designs. Our MKC AWD was based on the Oasis theme that "evokes a desert spa sanctuary" through its cream and tan tones. Membership does have its privileges, too, as owners can receive free anytime car washes and annual car detailing.
What is it?
The MKC Black Label is the high-zoot (Premium Utility Vehicle) version of the Lincoln brand's Compact Crossover Utility Vehicle. Four doors and a hatchback with room for five passengers, it is the same size but slightly different profile as its cousin the Ford Escape. Alongside the Lincoln MKZ, it is now on sale in China and accounts for around 70-percent of sales there.
Our tester was powered by the available 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine, with direct injection and variable twin-cam timing that produces V6 power from an inline four-cylinder package. Making 285-horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque, it features high-strength pistons with cooling jets for durability, and a cylinder head that incorporates its own exhaust manifold. Three-port pulse turbocharging also helps to eliminate turbo lag. Both engines are mated to a Selectshift six-speed automatic transmission, which can be operated in manumatic mode via steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers.
From a suspension standpoint, the MKC is equally slick. Using continuously controlled damping, sensors scan the road surfaces 46 times every two milliseconds, and depending on the driver-chosen parameters, can accommodate comfort, normal and sport settings for a personalized drive style. That combines with electric power-assisted steering to offer satisfying road feedback.
A lower-powered 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine is available with a buyer's choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Buyers of the top flight 2.3-liter EcoBoost receive the exclusive AWD option.
Other features help to separate the Black Label from the also rans: Approach detection projects the Lincoln logo on to the ground as a form of puddle light, while an ambient glow illuminates the interior. Additionally, ours was equipped with the "foot access" rear hatch that opens and closes with the sweep of a foot under the rear bumper. Sweep it open, and after stashing your loot, sweep it closed once again.
Park Out Assist joins Active Park Assist to help with chores of getting in and out of tight spaces. Adaptive cruise control is also along and can speed up or slow down as far as a stop, depending on the traffic in front of you. An audible alarm sounds if the sensors anticipate an imminent shunt, while lane keep assist keeps you within the stripes if and when you become inattentive.
What's it up against?
Lincoln is shooting upwards, and aiming for targets that include the Range Rover Evoque, the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi's Q5, BMW's X3, and the Acura RDX. From just the leather alone, we'd say Lincoln is in the ballpark.
How does it look?
The MKC starts with a robust platform that is shared with the Ford Escape in the states and the Ford Kuga elsewhere. But their respective bodies feature design cues, which separate them quite noticeably. Look past the rather obvious Lincoln winged grille, for example, and you'll notice the MKC's higher beltline while the roofline swoops down for a more aerodynamic, hunkering down look. LED running lights are on either side of the grille, which now features aero-tuned functional shutters.
While the standard MKC is fairly zooty to start with, the Black Label ups the quotient and features an abundance of chrome to accent the deep Chroma Couture premium paint. What color is that, you ask? We wondered the same thing, but in reality it's very close to dark brown metallic.