Luxury crossovers: utility has never been so stylish

If there’s anything Canadians love more than poutine and hockey, it’s their crossover vehicles. Recognizing the growth in the market, manufacturers are now offering upscale versions — like Buick with their Encore that takes the best attributes of both full-size sport utility vehicles and luxury cars by combining the two. Not to be outdone, Lincoln is also unveiling the Lincoln MKC for 2015 chock-full of class-leading technology in hopes of introducing the marque to a new demographic.

2014 Buick Encore

Buick Encore

Aimed at a younger audience, the Buick Encore (starting at MSRP $27,835) does a lot of things a bigger SUV can but in a smaller package. With ample room for five, it will hold 532 litres of stuff behind the split rear seats, or about six full grocery bags. Fold the second row down, and that number grows 1,371 litres perfect for golf clubs, luggage, and the kitchen sink. The designers built the Encore with practicality in mind and occupants will find bins and storage pockets scattered throughout the interior and even under the rear floor.

Powered by a fuel-efficient 138-horsepower 1.4-litre turbocharged Ecotec engine and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the estimated fuel consumption is 7.2 L /100 km in mixed city and highway use. There are also plenty of safety features including 10 airbags and new driver warning systems such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert that monitors oncoming vehicles while you’re backing up.

2015 Lincoln MKC

Lincoln MKC

The folks at Ford’s upscale branch are also trying to draw fresh faces through dealership doors by giving the brand a much-needed makeover. They are doing a good job with the soon-to-be-available Lincoln MKC small crossover that offers a lot of features for its class. Things like LED headlamps, an automatic rear lift gate that opens and closes when you wave your foot under the rear bumper, and approach detection that shines lights on the ground at night when it senses the remote fob. There is even park-out assist technology, which will lend a helping hand to drivers that have to leave a tight parallel parking space.

There are two available engines for the MKC: a standard 2.0 L turbo EcoBoost engine making 240 hp, and a brand-new 2.3 L EcoBoost that produces 285 hp. All-wheel drive is an option as well. The price point for Buick’s competitor is significantly higher at a starting MSRP of $39,940, and customers should expect to be able to get their hands on one starting in July.

Thanks to crossovers like the Encore and the MKC, consumers are no longer faced with the difficult ultimatum of choosing between luxury cars and SUVs. Whether driving yourself around town or your kids to soccer practice, utility has never been so stylish.

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