Im­age makeover

Lin­coln steps up the game with luxury cross­over

Grand Magazine - - WHEELS - By Kathy Renwald

CAN LIN­COLN ever be cool? For years the luxury side of the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany has been fight­ing to shed its square-pants im­age.

That’s chang­ing. Peg it to the mo­ment when the com­mer­cial with Matthew McConaughey driv­ing the Lin­coln MKC lit up the TV. That hand­some ac­tor with the sexy eyes, de­liv­er­ing a moody mono­logue about the MKC is lift­ing the old fo­gey fog off the brand.

I fell for it, and so did a lot of other peo­ple (in­clud­ing lots of co­me­di­ans!). Sales of the com­pact luxury cross­over jumped in Oc­to­ber af­ter the McConaughey com­mer­cials hit the air.

About a month af­ter those ads, I test-drove the MKC. As it hap­pened, I had cov­ered the de­but of the CUV at the Los An­ge­les auto show about a year ear­lier. The chief en­gi­neer and in­te­rior de­sign chief of the MKC, both fe­male, con­ducted a mi­cro­scopic tour of the com­pact cross­over, from the French stitch­ing on the leather seats to the dis­tinc­tive clamshell lift gate that adds style to the rear view. It was a con­vinc­ing, even pas­sion­ate sales job.

At the base level, the MKC starts out at $39,940; my test ve­hi­cle’s to­tal price was $55,920.

Whether you start low or high one thing re­mains un­changed, the MKC is a great look­ing ve­hi­cle. It’s classy and co­he­sive, and dis­tinc­tive with­out be­ing gar­ish.

Be­fore get­ting swayed by the op­tional add-ons of the higher priced model, ask the ba­sic ques­tion: do I like driv­ing it? My an­swer is yes. It has good re­spon­sive steer­ing, tight han­dling and enough power for spir­ited pass­ing and merg­ing.

My all-wheel-drive ve­hi­cle had the tur­bocharged 2.3-litre four-cylin­der en­gine, stan­dard at the high­est trim level. It pro­duces 285 horse­power with 305 lb./ft. of torque, the stan­dard two-litre has 40 less horse­power.

It’s mated to a six-speed trans­mis­sion

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