By Nitish Rele

Lincoln finally got it done! Its first compact luxury SUV is out on the road. And the small debutant is packed with ample power. The five-passenger SUV even comes in front-wheel or all-wheel drive in the 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder engine. Take your pick. Under the hood of our test drive sat a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-4 engine belting out 285 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm and 285 lbs.-ft. of torque @ 2,750 rpm. That is plenty of vim and vigor for the 3,989-lb. vehicle to scoot from any speed. A 6-speed auto gear box, which can be toggled manually or via paddles on the robust steering wheel, is standard.

A split-winged grille with the centered familiar Lincoln emblem, flanked by HID headlights and LED accents, conveys a muscular stance. But it is in the lavish, stylish and beautifully made cabin that the MKC justly shines. MyLincoln Touch, an interface to control audio, phone and navigation systems via voice, touch or both, is quite user-friendly. Passenger and cargo room is plenty with 25.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 53.1 cubic feet behind the first row. Six-footers in the rear seat have generous room to stretch legs and relax during long drives. Standard amenities include dual-zone auto climate control, three-spoke manual leather steering wheel, 10-way power driver and 4-way front-passenger seats, 60/40 flat second-row bench, hands-free lift gate and the Lincoln welcome/farewell light elements when you enter or exit.

Beware, this is no gas sipper. Though EPA estimates are 18 city/26 highway and 21 combined, we averaged just under 21 mpg in most of our all-week driving.

Priced at $35,595, the MKC can peak at nearly $49,000 with options. So, this is not a cheap vehicle by any means. But the all-new Lincoln boasts quick acceleration, exceptional handling and balance and remarkably good body control. Plus, it is attractive to the eye inside and out.

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