For 2020, the Ford Escape-based Lincoln MKC has bowed out to make way for the all-new Corsair.
The Escape is all-new for 2020, and since the Corsair remains based on that model, it seems Lincoln felt it was time to switch the name, too. The Corsair, née MKC, now joins the nomenclature ranks of the Continental, Navigator, Nautilus, and Aviator. Maybe Lincoln should do a Mustang-based coupe and call it the Corvette... oh, wait.
Luckily, the Corsair has replaced the Escape’s somewhat awkward – yet also somehow overly tame – styling for a look that I would actually go as far to describe as chiselled. Nice creases along the sides, the silver 3D-look grille, and splashes of chrome trim all serve to give the Corsair a classy yet modern look. I’m especially a fan of the Corsair badging on the front fenders; the font is just right, and it’s a styling touch that has made its way to every current Lincoln product.
Inside, at least with my tester, the question is how much one can handle all the various surfaces that aren’t just blue but, according to Lincoln, Beyond Blue. This isn’t some custom job from the crazy colourists over at Swiss tuner Mansory – it’s a standard colour choice for the Corsair. Do I like it? In the present, yes; I admire splashes of colour as much as the next person. My concern is living with it over the long term. How well will it age? How will it look once worn?
I do love how airy the rest of the cockpit feels, though. The push-button transmission is stealthily mounted into the centre console, thereby freeing up space normally used by a gear selector for storage and cupholders (as well as my vehicle’s optional wireless charge pad). The various buttons on the steering wheel are only lit when activated. Aside from some slightly fiddly buttons used for the climate control system, the overall effect is one of cleanliness and class.
Since my tester had the optional $11,540 Reserve II feature group, it boasted almost all the bells and whistles offered: heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera, steering-responsive headlights, rain-sensing wipers, 24-way power-adjustable front seats, and a self-parking system. Safety-wise, a full safety suite added lane-keep assist, blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert, collision-mitigation braking, post-collision braking, and driver awareness monitoring.
The eight-inch touchscreen (that, it should be said, sprouts from the dash a few inches more than I’d like) is your connection to the infotainment system, yes, but other in-car controls like those ultra-adjustable seats are found here, too. That’s fine by me, as the interface is slick and responsive to the touch, and the interface itself being one of the better offerings in the segment. There’s also support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is nice, though I do wish the bottom string of buttons found on the display remained there while using either smartphone projection system. They act as hotkeys to oft-used commands like navigation, making their absence missed.
The Revel audio system, meanwhile, is a darn good one, the company working closely with Lincoln from the get-go to ensure that all the necessary audio bits fit well in the various panels in which they reside to provide the clearest, most distortion-free audio possible.
In addition to the 24-way seats that provide most any body type with comfortable confines, rear-seat passengers are treated to a surprising amount of space considering the Corsair’s compact footprint. A big help are the thin front seatbacks; the cushions are padded with dense foam that doesn’t need to be thick to be comfortable, meaning you don’t have as much of the seatback intruding into the rear footwell as you might otherwise. The full-length panoramic sunroof that comes standard on the Reserve model you see here helps keep the back light and airy, just as the uncluttered dash has a similar effect up front.
While wind noise was kept to a pleasing minimum, the ride quality did leave something to be desired. It’s fine at speed over smaller bumps, but as you make your way into town and start hitting your everyday imperfections, things change pretty quickly. It feels like they haven’t relaxed the damper settings quite enough, and the creaks heard from in and around the door jambs were an unfortunately obvious contrast to the smooth sailing out on the highway. Yes, the Corsair is essentially an entry-level luxury crossover, but there are vehicles in the segment – the Volvo XC60, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and Acura RDX all come immediately to mind – that could absolutely teach it a thing or two when it comes to ride quality.
The thin front seatbacks also mean you can more easily fold the rear seats flat, as their headrests don’t get in the way. Although I do wish Lincoln managed to massage in a 40/20/40-split folding bench so you don’t have to lose an entire seat if you want to pack your skis in the cabin as opposed to on the roof.
This is where you really get to the good stuff when it comes to the Corsair – especially when you have the 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder my tester had (a 2.0L turbo unit comes as standard). The bigger engine makes 280 hp and a generous 310 lb-ft of torque that, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive (AWD), gets you up and going at a good clip from launch. But it also keeps enough in reserve for good acceleration when in-gear and at speed. This feels a much faster crossover than it looks on the outside; I can’t imagine the all-but-surely forthcoming Escape ST performance variant will feel any faster than this, if at all. There’s even a set of paddle shifters if you really want to get your acceleration on, though I highly doubt too many Corsair owners will be making use of these with much frequency. I did, however, and found them to be nicely responsive, so if you do want a little more performance with your luxury, you’ll find it here.
A quick note on the transmission: for some reason, activating reverse through the push-button interface caused a delay not felt when moving into drive from park. It makes three-point turns that much more of a chore, and had me having to unexpectedly jump on the brake when parking on steep hills.
Driving Feel: 8/10
While the ride at slower speeds around town leaves something to be desired, the way the Corsair handles itself otherwise is actually quite good. Body roll – always an issue with vehicles with higher centres of gravity – is minimal and, coupled with the very adjustable seats, I found my body to be kept nicely in check, not sliding to and fro through bends. It’s all complemented by a lively steering rack that asks for minimal driver input before responding. Like the powertrain, the Corsair steers like a more performance-oriented crossover.
If steering feel isn’t your thing, then perhaps Lincoln’s safety tech will be of more interest. The top-shelf suite includes adaptive cruise system that can take you all the way to a halt in stop-and-go traffic, read traffic signs, and adjust your speed accordingly (you can set it to always keep a certain amount of speed above or below the limit, if you choose), and also keep you centred in your lane.
Unlike other systems like this, it doesn’t so much bounce off each lane marker but instead follows a virtual line down the middle of the lane, for more comfortable progress. It’s a system I found myself using regularly as it’s so darn simple and functional. Other bits that come as part of the package include evasive braking assist, rear cross-traffic alert with emergency braking, forward collision assist, and post-collision braking, which helps ensure you avoid any secondary impact after a collision.
Fuel Economy: 8.5/10
Even with all that power, the Corsair will still achieve less than 10.0 L/100 km in the combined cycle, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). During my test, I saw 10.4 L/100 km, which I find to be perfectly acceptable considering the power on tap.
The Reserve model starts at $44,270, but you won’t get the 2.3L at that price. Adding that will cost an additional $6,740, which may seem like a steep climb but it also adds AWD, which is a $2,200 premium otherwise. The Reserve II option package fitted to my tester is a big chunk of money – indeed, about a fifth of the cost of the Corsair itself – but it does add almost everything imaginable.
Of course, if you want, you can add the more basic-but-in-demand stuff – heated seats and steering wheel, for example – offered in separate packages. I do take issue with the fact a head-up display costs $1,700, however; it’s something I would have expected in the Reserve II package.
The Lincoln Corsair competes in one of the most hotly contested segments, especially in the luxury world. It’s this type of vehicle that’s of utmost importance at the moment, so it needs proper legs to compete. The Corsair has the powertrain chops, the in-car tech, the cabin room, and the styling to get the job done. It’s only the ride quality that could cause potential buyers to think twice.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||280 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||310 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||11.1/8.2/9.8 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||781 / 1,631 L seats down|
|Model Tested||2020 Lincoln Corsair Reserve AWD|
|Price as Tested||$68,465|
$15,765 – Reserve II package (Elements Package, heated/Ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, windshield wiper de-icer, Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus, 360-degree camera, active part assist plus, adaptive cruise control, technology package, remote start system, dynamic handling package), $11,540; all-weather floor liners, $175; Beyond Blue interior package, $750; head-up display, $1,700; Reserve appearance package (20" wheels, body-colour rocker panels, body-colour front and rear bumpers, unique grille), $1,600