2015 Lincoln MKC at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show

Competes with: Audi Q5, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
Looks like: An almost exact copy of the Detroit auto show's MKC concept
Drivetrain: Standard 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or an optional 275-hp, turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder
Hits dealerships: Summer 2014

Ford's premium brand is entering the luxury compact crossover fray with the 2015 Lincoln MKC. The concept version debuted at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and the production version will meet the public at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The MKC slots below the MKX in size, and Lincoln stayed true to the concept car in styling the production version. The MKC retains the concept's prominent winged grille, sculpted body, menacing LED-accented headlamps and full-width LED taillamps with wrap-around liftgate.

Inside, a panoramic sunroof, leather seats with French stitching and real wood trim give the cabin an airy, upscale look. An 8-inch touch-screen that uses Ford's Sync with MyLincoln Touch is front and center. Unlike many vehicles that use Ford's troubled multimedia system, the MKC's panel also features buttons and knobs for controlling audio and climate functions — a welcome site.

Connectivity is a highlight. With the MyLincoln Mobile app, drivers can start, lock, unlock and locate their MKC. They also can use the app to call roadside assistance and check the vehicle's fuel level, tire pressure and battery charge.

Under the Hood
Although the MKC shares a platform with the Ford Escape compact crossover, one of its powertrains is new. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. Lincoln says it's good for 275 horsepower; fuel-economy figures are not yet out. The standard engine, however, is the Escape's turbocharged 2.0-liter; it makes 240 hp in this application. Lincoln hasn't confirmed the MKC's transmission, but we expect it to use the Escape's six-speed automatic. One item carried over from the concept version is the push-button shifter instead of an actual mechanical shifter.

Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is an option and includes a new Continuously Controlled Damping system. Drivers can select from Sport, Comfort and normal drive modes, and Lincoln says CCD continually monitors the road and adjusts the suspension according to the mode selected. 

Safety Features
The MKC is loaded with safety options, including a blind spot warning system, collision warning with brake support, lane keeping system, cross-traffic alert and the class-exclusive park-out assist system. Rather than help guide the vehicle into parallel parking spots, the latter system helps steer the car out of a tight parking spot. 

Pricing has not yet been announced, but the 2015 Lincoln MKC goes on sale in summer 2014. The brand plans to introduce four new luxury vehicles by 2016, and the MKC is the second in that list behind the 2013 MKZ sedan.

Lincoln says the MKC "represents a critical milestone in the company's plan to expand its lineup," and the brand could really use a hit; so far Lincoln sales are down 3 percent this year overall, with sales of the MKS sedan down 11 percent and the MKX crossover, 4.7 percent.

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