The past few years have marked a newfound footing on the Lincoln Motor Company’s part bringing new products that are nearly shaking up mainstream luxury in the SUV/Crossover landscape. Lincoln’s new modern-day footing started with the introduction of the latest Navigator as a 2018 model year and then to the all-new 2020 Aviator introduced last year, and now the all-new Corsair, which looks the part of a smaller Aviator, which is a good thing.
The new Lincoln Corsair helps set the new tone for the Lincoln brand in approaching luxury in their own terms, which I’ve reiterated before when driving the new Aviator and the latest refresh of the Navigator. Focusing on the compact crossover segment, the new Corsair excels with its luxury appointments and surprising performance, something that completed the package for me in my perception of a modern-day compact luxury crossover.
In Lincoln’s choice to kill off their sedans and recently do away with the Continental, vehicles like the Corsair must rise to the occasion, and after me spending a week with the Corsair loaded up in the Reserve trim, I am assured of their future for as long as crossovers/SUVs continue to dominate sales over sedans.
The new 2020 Lincoln Corsair ultimately replaces the MKC and does it with a new powertrain and setting itself far apart from its chassis partner, the new Ford Escape. Powering the new Corsair is a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 295 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. In my Corsair Reserve test vehicle, all-wheel-drive comes to the aid to keep the Corsair sure-footed out on the road. What’s most surprising about the Corsair’s drivetrain is that it is pretty quick, and I mean the powerband is full of pulling power through most of the RPM range. The power from the engine comes on without much turbo lag from a standstill, and the transmission does nicely to sort through the gears without any guessing or hunting when the need arises to downshift a few cogs or smoothly upshift.
Zero to 60 mph is accomplished in about 6 seconds flat, which is only a tenth of a second faster than the smaller 2.0-liter turbocharged standard Corsair, which has 45 less horsepower and down 30 lb-ft of torque from the larger 2.3-liter turbocharged engine. The Corsair’s suspension system, with its adaptive dampers, does well to provide a smooth ride quality even when the Excite drive mode is select, which is essentially a sport mode, one of five drive modes (Conserve, Slippery, Deep conditions, Normal, Excite). Moreover, the Corsair performs well without the expected buzz sound or harshness you may expect from a 4-cylinder engine. For the most part, the Corsair does well to isolate the driver and passengers from the road to fit the theme expected out of a luxury vehicle – a nice overall serene feeling throughout the cabin in most driving situations.
Fuel economy is pretty good for the Corsair, even with the more powerful engine over the standard 2.0-liter turbo, which gets 22mpg city and 30 mpg highway for the standard front-wheel-drive configuration. Move to my loaded Corsair Reserve, which only comes in all-wheel-drive for the larger engine choice, and you can easily match the EPA figures of 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.
There is a nice confidence in driving the Corsair where it almost feels nimble but doesn’t take you to the “small” space when you start to feel a little give in its suspension in the Normal drive modes. Only in Excite do the adaptive dampers tighten up and exude a firmer ride quality but not too harsh. The steering is good as well with the smaller steering wheel, which is mimicked from its bigger Aviator sibling, as are most of the Interior’s placement of controls only slightly scaled down to a smaller size, just like the 8-inch infotainment touch screen that sits out of the dash almost like a landscape-oriented small tablet, which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The infotainment unit is user-friendly in the scheme of Ford/Lincoln’s latest Sync 3.5 and does well to respond quickly to inputs, but only after it completes a few-second initial load time.
Also inside the new Corsair is a cabin that makes smart use of its compact proportions and has rather comfy seats with up to 24-way power adjustable seats. Part of the loaded-up equipment found in my Corsair Reserve test vehicle adds to a looming issue of such a vehicle, and that resides with its pricing. The price, which is separated by nearly $7,000 when comparing the standard Corsair with the Corsair Reserve, seems to rise rather quickly after checking the Reserve trim checklist and tacking on features that are “reserved” for the top-level trim. Such options that raise the price quickly start with the optional 2.3-liter turbocharged engine, which, again, touts an additional 45 horsepower and 30 lb-ft of torque over the standard 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Other options that are unlocked and made available on the Reserve trim are the adaptive dampers, 20-inch wheels, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, the phone-as-a-key option, color heads-up display, and the comfy heated and ventilated massaging 24-way power-adjustable front seats. In the end, you’re looking at paying just over $58,000 for a loaded Corsair Reserve II trim. That’s a far cry from the base price of the less-powerful Corsair Standard trim, starting at just $36,000. Though, if you compare the Corsair Reserve to something like the new Cadillac XT4 Sport (top trim level), pricing is quite competitive, leaving the guesswork to which vehicle truly appeases luxury buyers. For me, the Corsair wins me over between the two, mostly due to its no-compromise approach to luxury and doing it on their own terms to avoid copying others.