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Comparison: 2019 Lincoln MKC vs 2019 Volvo XC40

Auto123 compares the 2019 Lincoln MKC and the 2019 Volvo XC40, two solid small SUVs tasked with democratizing luxury for buyers of utility models

Until quite recently, there was in the automotive industry a fairly clear demarcation between mass-market and luxury models. This distinction has become fuzzier with the arrival of many popular models with features that were once only seen on luxury models. Think leather seats, drive assist systems and touchscreens, which have gradually come to be part of the standard equipment found on more-affordable vehicles. 

These Joe Public models now can often compete with many so-called luxury models in terms of equipment. What’s more, the line separating brands that want to sell luxury models and luxury brands that to become more accessible is being erased. Today, we look at two recent models trying to attract customers positioned right at the threshold of moving into the luxury segment settled on the border of a new market, all while the companies making them work to hold on to the aura so important to them as luxury brands.

2019 Lincoln MKC

Photo: Lincoln

If you’re interested, this is the last chance for you to for the MKC. After this year, the luxury brand’s smallest SUV will be effectively replaced by the Corsair. Based on the Ford Escape, the MKC has been acquitting itself surprisingly well on the sales front, in good part thanks to its sophisticated styling and practical format.

Inside, the MKC gets Sync3, the latest version of the infotainment system shared with various other Lincoln models and those sold by Ford's parent company. Owners can also use the Lincoln smartphone app, which includes a concierge service and interactive parking information, and lets you control door locks and start the engine from anywhere using your smartphone. 

Photo: Lincoln

Buyers interested in the Lincoln Black Label Premium Group can also choose from three interior themes: Modern Heritage, Indulgence and Center Stage, which feature premium materials such as Venetian leather, Alcantara wood accents, Argento and Ziricote.

Powerful engines
In terms of safety, the MKC's forward collision warning system adds pedestrian detection. Otherwise, the SUV remains unchanged. Power comes from a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine (245 hp, 275 lb-ft of torque) borrowed from the Ford Escape, but the MKC can also be equipped with a more-powerful 2.3L engine making 285 hp and 305 lb-ft. All-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission come standard. 

The 2.0L engine can be equipped with a stop/start feature that turns it off at stops to reduce fuel consumption in the city. Regardless of the choice of engine, the performance is good, but the lack of an 8-speed transmission like offered by many competitors inflates consumption figures and means the powertrain doesn’t deliver the same smooth drive. The MKC performs well thanks to adaptive dampers that enhance driving when the car is tuned to its Sport drive mode.

Photo: Lincoln

Standard equipment includes 10-way power adjustable front seats, proximity key with push-button start and power liftgate. The MKC also benefits from Lincoln approach detection with a welcome mat and bright logo, ultra-soft leather upholstery, a 9-speaker premium audio system and the Sync3 infotainment system. Radar-based cruise control, forward collision warning with auto brake, lane keeping assist and parking assist are optional.

The MKC is arguably the only recent product in the Lincoln lineup that has managed to get a spot in the sun, but even here Lincoln is facing a tough battle to get recognition in this category with vehicles like the Audi Q5 or the BMW X3, but also the Mercedes-Benz GLC, Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace, which are all compelling products. Lincoln will have to stop playing eternal cath-up and come up with some innovative ideas to survive in the mid and long term.

Consult our listing of pre-owned Lincoln MKC vehicles available in your region of Canada

2019 Volvo XC40

Photo: D.Boshouwers

The XC40 compact SUV is the newest model in the Volvo utility family, started a few years ago with the XC90. But where Volvo scores a lot of points is with the styling of this more-affordable small model, which for the company is a gateway to a potentially much larger potential clientele.

Available in Canada in the Momentum, R-Design and Registration versions, the XC40 comes with a single 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine producing 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive as standard. The entry-level model comes with the T5 designation on the tailgate.

Volvo arrives at the right time in a category of vehicles that only a few years ago was practically deserted. And though it may be late to the game, it has made a grand entrance with the XC40, thanks to stylistic landmarks such as his "Thor's Hammer" headlamp treatment and two-tone bodywork.

Photo: Volvo

Clean interior
Like the all recent Volvo products, the XC40 gets a very zen approach for its cabin. There’s plenty of storage space for small items, including doors that hold a water bottle and a laptop, a trash can built into the centre console and a glove box with a hook to hang a bag. 

The Momentum edition’s standard equipment includes a 12.3-inch digital gauge, heated front seats, power driver seat with lumbar support, manual passenger seat adjustments with thigh extension, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, downhill control, fabric / leatherette seats, and 9.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. 

The safety features included in the XC40's starting price include a front-end collision sensor, lane keep assist, driver's knee airbag and tire pressure monitoring.

Photo: Volvo

The R-Design model brings specific interior and exterior styling elements, notably a black headliner, steering-wheel paddle shifters, nubuck leather upholstery, power-adjustable passenger seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 19-inch wheels, sports suspension and adjustable LED headlights. 

The Inscription version includes the 18-inch wheels, the electric driver's seat cushion extension, the Swedish crystal gear lever and various interior and exterior design elements specific to this model.

Conclusion
The XC40 is all about balance. Both pleasant and comfortable, the XC40 has very welcoming seats and the sound insulation is excellent. There’s enough power on offer to make on-ramping a breeze.

Consult our listing of pre-owned Volvo vehicles available in your region of Canada

Advantage Lincoln MKC

The MKC is more powerful than the XC40 and offers a lot of luxury options that puts it one step above the Volvo.

Advantage Volvo XC40

The XC40 offers a more balanced overall ride that combines comfort, handling and a quieter ride. The interior is also better designed.

Similarities

Both offer a comprehensive list of standard equipment and comparable list of drive assist systems. The styling is for these both models a top selling point, and the prices are comparable.

Verdict

The XC40 takes it, offering in our view the best combination of price, value and features, and it delivers better fuel economy than the Lincoln. Although the MKC gets a good rating, its heavy driving, high fuel consumption and uncomfortable suspension loses it a lot of points. We also get a stronger feeling of luxury from the Volvo than the Lincoln.

2019 Lincoln MKC

We like

Competitive price
Quiet interior
SYNC 3 system

We like less

6-speed transmission
Fir and finish could be improved
Reliability below average

2019 Volvo XC40

We like

Successful styling
Balanced driving
Super comfortable front seats

We like less

Blind spot alerts optional
Rear seat a little tight
Multimedia system a bit complicated

...Specifications  
  2019 Lincoln MKC 2019 Volvo XC40 
 TransmissionAuto 6 speedAuto 8 speed
 DrivetrainAWDAWD
  2.0L2.0L
 Fuel consumption (city)1.3L/100 km9.0L/100 km
 Fuel consumption (highway) 9.3L/100 km7.5L/100 km
  2.3L T 
 Fuel consumption (city)13.1L/100 km 
 Fuel consumption (highway) 9.5L/100 km 
 Engine  
 Typegasgas
 Output245 hp247 hp
 Torque275 lb-ft258 lb-ft
 Cylinders44
 Displacement2.0L T2.0L T
    
 Typegas 
 Output285 hp 
 Torque305 lb-ft 
 Cylinders4 
 Displacement2.3L T 
    
 Capacity  
 Cargo space712 L / 1,505 L460 L / 1,336 L
 Fuel tank59 L54 L
 Towing capacity907 kg, 1,360 kg1,600 kg, 2,100 kg
    
 Dimensions  
 Length4552 mm4425 mm
 Width1854 mm1863 mm
 Height1657 mm1652 mm
 Wheelbase2690 mm2702 mm
    
 Warranty4 yrs/ 80,000 km4 yrs / 80,000 km
 Price$44,150 to $48,800 $40,300 to $47,050