You can’t write a Lincoln review without using the F-word.

That would be “Ford”, of course, as every Lincoln vehicle is based on a Ford product. And maybe for Lincoln, Ford really is the F-word, such is the inescapable truth that for this ritzy halo-brand to stand proud, it must keep distance from its humbler Blue Oval origins.

Not an easy feat, and something crosstown rival Cadillac need not worry about as that luxury brand is a watershed for General Motor’s most advanced engineering and technologies.

That’s not to say it’s a terrible thing having your portfolio built on gussied-up Fords. Damn good cars, most of ‘em.

Lincoln’s latest offering is the MKC – a luxury compact crossover spun off the Ford Escape.

Visually, you’d be hard pressed to tie the MKC to its donor Ford. The classic Lincoln split-wing grill (that looks like you pasted a California Condor in mid-flight) integrates nicely here, and the elegant Audi-esque profile with sharply creased panels projects an upscale feel. Factor in the Ruby Red Metallic paint ($600), 19-inch rolling stock ($1,950) and requisite LED headlight bling, and you’ve got a pretty sharp rig.

I was quite shocked when a kid at the schoolyard gave me a thumbs-up. For a crossover??? Kids these days…

When it comes to street-cred, the MKC apparently gets a pass. No one will be mumbling the F-word when you cruise by.

The 2015 Lincoln MKC starts at $39,940 for the all-wheel-drive model with 240 hp, 270 lb-ft 2.0L EcoBoost four. This tester was loaded to the nines. The seductively-named Equipment Group 102A at $7,760 adds power folding heated mirrors, panoramic sunroof, navigation, hands-free liftgate, blind spot warning with cross traffic alert, heated and cooled front seats, climate package, heated steering wheel and… a 2.3L EcoBoost four that kicks the output up to 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque.

There’s a version of this engine in the new Mustang.

You’ll want the $995 THX audio upgrade – it kicks.

Rounding things out here is the $2,250 Tech Package that offers active park assist, lane keeping system, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning. So for about 54 grand this Lincoln is playing luxury large. The only thing missing is heat for the rear seats.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost headlight2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost dashboard
2015 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost headlight, dashboard. Click image to enlarge

Hop inside and it’s premium pampering to the max. The seats are cushy, fully adjustable and trimmed in Bridge-of-Weir leather that feels like… well, real leather. Soft and creamy. None of this processed-to-resemble-vinyl stuff.

With extra sound insulation, double-sealed doors and acoustic glass, you’re cocooned in an isolation chamber when the doors close with a muted thunk.

The gauge cluster and MyFord… er, MyLincoln Touch central screen/interface are all familiar Ford bits, but their clarity and colourful graphics play well into the premium experience. Another case of good stuff coming from the parent company.

Granted, MyFord Touch has taken its share of flak over the years, but for this writer, the combination of continual improvements along with familiarity make this system just fine… save for the small touchscreen “buttons” that can be hard to hit.

Mercifully, Lincoln has backed away from its recent obsession with swipe controls, now providing good ol’ fashioned rotary knobs for audio volume and tuning. Temp adjustment is done with tactile thin chrome buttons.

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