Lincoln has been busy.
Most automakers will spread out vehicle launches, let the press cycle slow down and then bust out another new vehicle to keep its name in the headlines.
But in the last year, Lincoln has barely let the ink dry before it launched three all-new SUVs in rapid-fire succession.
The latest utility vehicle to hit the scene is the 2020 Corsair. While Lincoln hesitates to call this a replacement for the outgoing MKC, Corsair fills a void the MKC will leave behind.
And, IMHO, it fills that void rather nicely.
From the classy good looks to the well-developed powertrains, Corsair goes from well-appointed at the base Standard level all the way to darn near perfect at the top-tier Reserve II level.
As Corsair is the entry into the Lincoln SUV lineup, it won’t have a Black Label, but with the appearance packages and top-flight convenience features, I’m not sure it will be missed.
Other than the fact the base price hovers around $37K, the biggest news for Corsair is the high level of technology that is both standard and available.
One of the things I fully appreciate is that Lincoln doesn’t make an owner choose between safety features and something like an up-level audio system.
Safety is standard.
So, things such as automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist and automatic high beams are included at the base trim.
Other standard tech features will include Active Noise Control that uses sound waves to filter out ambient noise, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and the “Vision” steering wheel with ergonomically placed buttons and toggle switches.
Some available technology includes wireless charging, head-up display, adaptive suspension, intelligent adaptive cruise control, evasive steer assist, automatic reverse braking and active park assist plus.
There are two additional available features that help set Corsair apart.
First is the 24-way power adjustable perfect position seats with massaging functions, and the second is Phone As Key technology.
Lincoln debuted this latter item in the Aviator and ushered it into the Corsair as well. Simply download the Lincoln Way app, and sync the vehicle to your phone. Then your phone acts like a key – no fob necessary.
Styling on the Corsair is aligned with its older, larger siblings, sporting a floating roofline and very strong horizontal lines. The two different grilles are elegantly appointed and punctuated by a large Lincoln emblem in the middle.
I find the new Corsair to be both handsome and classic, and during the short drive period, I heard passersby compare it to both Porsche and Land Rover – not bad company for this new compact SUV.
The interior continues the horizontal design language with strong and distinct lines on the dash. I thought the overall effect was classic, and it worked well with the floating console. However, I discovered, once I started posting photos on social, this interior is somewhat polarizing. It’s either love or hate with very little in the middle.
One of the vehicles we drove had the Beyond Blue Interior package, and I fell in love with it. The bright blue leather trim juxtaposed against the white lacquered inserts on the dash look retro and stylish all at once. But this, too, is polarizing.
I loved it, my drive partner did not.
What we did agree on was the smooth and agile acceleration of the up-level 2.3-liter turbocharged engine, which delivers 295 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.
Lincoln spent a lot of time talking about its “Quiet Flight” tenet, and this powertrain certainly embodies that. Acceleration is immediate, and even when already at highway speeds, passing is effortless.
Which is an amazing thing to say considering we’re talking about a 4-cylinder engine. We spent the most time with this powertrain, and it is a thing of beauty.
So, it’s disappointing that the 2.3-liter engine is only available paired with all-wheel drive on the top-tier Reserve I and II levels.
That’s not to say the 2.0-liter engine is bad. It’s not. It’s pleasant to drive, delivering 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
In fact, if I hadn’t driven the up-level engine, I’d probably be gushing all over it right now. It’s smooth and fast as well -- just not as smooth or as fast.
One other handling note to share: We did a decent amount of driving on curvy roads, and the Corsair – especially when tipped into Excite mode – handled them well. There was no tire squeal or the feeling that the vehicle was too heavy to handle more aggressive driving.
Even without a Black Label trim, Corsair will still have five different levels:
- Standard ($36,940): This includes FWD, leather seats and the base 2.0-liter engine.
- Standard I ($38,340): This adds the Convenience Package and 18-inch dark painted wheels.
- Reserve ($43,625): Leveling up to Reserve adds ambient lighting, navigation, panoramic sunroof, 14-speaker Revel premium audio system, hands-free liftgate and 19-inch ultra-bright machined wheels.
- Reserve I ($47,025): This adds the Elements Package and Co-Pilot360 Plus. The up-level 2.3-liter engine is available here, but the standard engine is the 2.0.
- Reserve II ($56,115): This top-tier trim adds the up-level 2.3-liter engine, AWD, adaptive suspension, Technology Package, head-up display and perfect position seats.
All prices include the $995 destination fee, and every level except the Reserve II is standard with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available for $2,200.
The 2020 Lincoln Corsair will hit dealers later this fall.
The Bottom Line:
I like the petite size of the 2020 Lincoln Corsair, the handling and the elegant styling.
I’m beginning to feel like a broken record when I say this, but if you haven’t looked at Lincoln lately, you should. The attention to detail, handsome design and innovative technology are pushing this oft-forgotten brand back into the limelight.
The Navigator set the bar when it was launched as a 2018 model, and every SUV the automaker has launched since raised it.
Luxury has a new name, and it’s called Lincoln.
Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Lincoln covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.