The Sell: If the Audi Q5 and Lexus NX had a love child it would be the MKC.
The Test: We didn’t see this one coming. Plopped behind the wheel of the MKC ($33,995; 19 mpg city/26 hwy) on a rainy afternoon, plying our way north on the winding roads of New York’s Hudson Valley, every feature grew on us. First, the slick cabin: Where rivals charge more for electronically controlled, heated leather seats and touchscreen navigation, here it’s part of the package. Even active noise canceling is included—the sound system works like a pair of Bose headphones, filtering out engine roar.
Handling, too, is impressive: more precise and kinetic than the Lexus NX. Its six-speed automatic transmission also has a sport mode that lets you use engine braking for better control off-road. And with 7.9 inches of ground clearance and AWD, the MKC is cut out to go anywhere you’d take a Subaru Outback. Plus, it comes standard with course-correcting nannies that augment stability and traction control and can help prevent a rollover.
Lincoln is also an outlier in giving you an actual temporary spare tire, where increasingly (especially in the luxury segment) you’re stuck with a can of Fix-a-Flat and an 800 number—which won’t do you much good when you’re out of cell range on a backwoods fire road.
What’s Missing? A little more space.
The Verdict: An adventure car with luxury features to spare