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Lincoln Motor Co.’s new concept MKC is unmistakably a Lincoln.

Ford’s luxury brand has managed to individualize Lincoln’s new compact crossover, leaving few similarities with the Ford Escape, which shares the same platform.

And that — at least initially — is a victory for Lincoln, which has for years battled perceptions that its vehicles are nothing more than souped-up Fords.

“It’s definitely not a jazzed-up Escape,” said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis at research and forecasting firm AutoPacific Inc. “It’s definitely an original-looking design; it’s not copying anything else.”

The MKC — “C” as in crossover — will debut Monday at the North American International Auto Show and represents new territory for Lincoln. The MKC is an advancement from the MKZ sedan, which debuted at last year’s show and is hitting dealer lots now.

This new Lincoln, part of the small luxury segment that has grown by 200 percent in the past four years, isn’t slated to arrive until sometime next year, but when it does, it will compete with the likes of the Acura RDX, Mercedes-Benz GLK and BMW X3.

The concept is the first Lincoln completely designed by Max Wolff — director of design at Lincoln and a former Cadillac designer — and he made sure to let consumers know they’re driving a Lincoln.

The interior is peppered with hundreds of Lincoln star lattices, most of them stitched into leather on the doors, seats and dashboard.

A panoramic roof — optional in the new MKZ — makes the car feel more spacious than it actually is; the concept is currently a tight squeeze for anyone 6-feet and taller, though once inside, legroom is plentiful.

A deep crease streaks across both sides of the vehicle starting at the headlamps — a modest but emphatic look.

“It’s relatively simple, but all the lines contribute to a simple, elegant look,” said Murat Gueler, MKC Concept lead exterior designer.

The MKC concept features Lincoln-centric tail lamps. A side-view cutline — a Lincoln first — means the stretched-out U-shaped tail lamp is uninterrupted and that the rear hatch is wider, providing more space for cargo.

Inside, the MKC has Lincoln’s push-button shift, clearing space in the center console.


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