Lincoln joins the luxury compact crossover fray with the 2015 MKC, an all-new SUV based on the Ford Escape. Ford hopes the five-passenger MKC will give Lincoln a foothold in the segment and steal sales from competitors such as the Acura RDX, Audi Q5 and Buick Encore.

To give the MKC a fighting chance, Lincoln’s engineers created an arresting design and packed it with leading-edge technology. The new vehicle will sport a long list of standard features and serve as the debut model for two leading-edge systems.

Lincoln Drive Control will utilize a three-mode adaptive suspension and “continuously controlled damping” to sense driver input and adjust the suspension on all four wheels. The second is MyLincoln, a mobile app that will allow drivers to locate, lock and unlock or start their MKC remotely.

That emphasis on technology continues in the cabin, which is dressed in leather upholstery and paneling and accented by real wood trim. The prototype features the now-typical host of assistive safety features as well as a massive touchscreen interface, customizable instrument cluster screens and a 14-speaker, 700-watt stereo system.

Specs for the 2015 Lincoln MKC.

Specs for the 2015 Lincoln MKC.

The much-ballyhooed and occasionally maligned touch-sensitive control panels on Lincoln’s MKZ sedan were replaced by physical knobs and buttons on the SUV. A key sensor “wakes” the MKC, illuminating the head- and taillights, door handle wells and the ground below the running boards. It also allows the driver to open the power liftgate by kicking the underside of the rear bumper.

The exterior is an exercise in depicting a luxury vehicle on a small canvas. Despite its high shoulder line, outsized doors and massive, wraparound tailgate, the sculpted body is unmistakably sedanlike. That image is shattered by a massive split grille that unfolds like a pair of wings across the MKC’s front end. Nineteen-inch wheels and understated roof rails complete the look of a refined, road-ready SUV.

Full specifications are not yet available, but Lincoln plans to equip the base model with a 2.0-liter inline four that will deliver 240 horsepower (hp) at 270 pound-feet (lbs.-ft.) of torque. An available 2.3-liter four-banger ups the ante to 275 hp at 300 lbs.-ft. The 2015 MKC is due in showrooms this summer and will start at $33,995.

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Tariq Kamal

Tariq Kamal

Contributing Editor

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