by Sebastian Cenizo
Lincoln views itself as a luxury brand, but everyone else sees the company as a brand offering slightly fancier Ford models. Aiming to change that, the brand has undergone some adjustments intended to bring back the love the brand once had. One such change is the new Corsair luxury compact SUV, a model that replaces the old MKC. Powered by a choice of two turbocharged four-cylinder engines, the Corsair can be equipped with either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, which comes standard if you opt for the larger motor. The base 2.0-liter turbo-four makes 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque while the available 2.3-liter turbo-four produces 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. So is the Corsair special enough to warrant choosing one over a BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLC, or is it just a restyled Ford?
The Corsair is a completely new model for 2020, replacing the outgoing MKC.
All Corsair models come with LED headlights and a prominent front grille. A badge running over the front door features the model designation while the rear features a pair of taillights joined by a strip, giving the back end some subtle Mercedes and Porsche styling elements. A roof spoiler and a pair of dual-exit exhaust tips round off the back. 18-inch wheels are standard on the base model, with 19s and 20s available. Also available is a panoramic sunroof.
The Corsair is a slightly larger vehicle than the MKC it replaces, with length up from 179.2 inches to 180.6. Width increases from 73.4 inches to 76.2 inches with the mirrors folded, while the wheelbase swells from 105.9 to 106.7 inches. Height is measured at 64.1 inches, down from 65.2 in the 2019 MKC. Curb weight is similar, with the Corsair weighing 3,691 pounds in base form and starting at 3,851 lbs with the 2.3-liter all-wheel-drive variant. Ground clearance is respectable, measuring 7.8 inches.
The Corsair in base configuration has access to four no-cost color options, with Infinite Black, Ingot Silver, Magnetic Gray, and Artisan Blue as your choices. Iced Mocha, Pristine White, Burgundy Velvet, Red Carpet, and Ceramic Pearl are available too, with each costing $695. The Reserve trim is largely the same, with the exception of an additional $695 color option called Flight Blue. We like the standard Infinite Black option, but Artisan Blue is also an attractive hue.
The Corsair is available with a choice of two four-cylinder engines, each of which is turbocharged. The more powerful of the two is Ford's 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four and, in this application, produces 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. This engine is only available with all-wheel-drive, while helps it accelerate in a spritely manner, with 0-60 mph achieved in around six and a half seconds. The other available engine, and the one that is standard for the Corsair, is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot, but despite its deficit in capacity, its performance isn't far behind that of the top trim, producing 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. This allows it to get to 60 mph in around seven seconds. This base engine can be paired with either the standard front-wheel-drive setup or an all-wheel-drive system as part of the available options. While it's clear that acceleration performance isn't the main focus of a luxury compact SUV such as this one, we can't help but feel like the bigger engine is a disappointment, barely improving the way the Corsair performs. Nevertheless, those who want to be able to take a boat to the lake will be happy to know that the Corsair can tow up to 8,600 lbs.
The base engine available in the Corsair is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 250 horses and 280 lb-ft of torque. While not a particularly fast vehicle, the Corsair performs well with this motor, with smooth, steady acceleration from a standstill and decent overtaking ability. It's a smooth power plant and feels stronger than the figures suggest, although that good acceleration factor is naturally diminished somewhat when the SUV is loaded or towing something. Throttle response is reasonable, and there isn't a huge amount of turbo lag. The available 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four is a little more responsive to stabs at the gas pedal, but it's not particularly impressive. With just 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, it's a capable motor but it doesn't feel worth the extra money, with barely any improvement in standstill acceleration or overtaking ability. Fortunately, the eight-speed automatic transmission fitted to all Corsair models is a good companion, with smooth shifts and a reasonable level of urgency. It's a good choice for a vehicle like this, never jolting or upsetting the drive, but it is a little less refined than the gearbox you'd find in a BMW X3.
The Corsair is a compact SUV, which means it's a family car. It's also a Lincoln, and as such, it needs to ride comfortably. Fortunately, the chassis is well-tuned to absorbing bumps and imperfections, and what the Corsair lacks in fun factor or driving pleasure, it makes up for in serene comfort and cruising ability. The steering is light and easy to manage, and the cabin is quiet, although some of the engine noise does make its way into the cabin at higher revs. As is typical for a vehicle like this, a fair amount of body roll is exhibited in quicker corners, but it's not excessive or alarming. The brakes are also sharp enough to keep you out of danger and easy enough to modulate so that the kids in the back don't spill their milkshakes. As an option, you can also spec an adaptive suspension setup, which helps reduce body roll when necessary and can be flicked back to more comfortable settings for longer drives. This is especially useful if you opt for the larger wheels, which the adaptive suspension does a good job of minimizing the impact of. With regards to the drivetrain, we'd opt for the FWD model unless you live in an area plagued by slippery roads, as the additional weight of the AWD system is noticeable and detracts somewhat from the ability of the vehicle in terms of towing and acceleration. Of course, that's assuming you opt for the 2.0-liter, as the larger motor can't be had in FWD-guise.
Depending on the model you opt for, gas mileage varies, but only slightly. The most economical model is, as expected, the base, front-wheel-drive version with the 2.0-liter turbo. This model returns EPA estimates of 22/29/25 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, while opting for all-wheel-drive drops these figures slightly to 21/29/24 mpg on the same cycles. The 2.3-liter all-wheel-drive configuration returns figures of 21/28/24, so fuel economy isn't affected much by the added weight and increased power of the top model. The base version is still the one you want for ultimate range, however, with the 16.2-gallon gas tank returning a mixed range of around 405 miles, while each AWD variant should give you about 389 miles between fill-ups.
The Corsair's interior is spacious for a compact SUV, and has a beautiful design with faux leather as standard and premium leather available. The general ambiance is pleasantly luxurious, and it all looks and feels premium, although there are some plasticky bits that let the cabin down a bit. As standard, you do get heated front seats and a capable infotainment system, but it's worth noting that features like ventilated and massaging front seats, a digital driver info display, and a head-up display will all cost you extra. Regardless of which model or options you choose, the seats are comfortable and offer good lateral support too.
The Corsair seats five people, and both rows offer good levels of comfort. Getting in and out is made easy by wide door openings and a reasonable ride height. Once seated in the back, you'll find that there's enough headroom and legroom for adults, but the middle seat is best occupied by a teen. In front, both occupants get ten-way power-adjustable seats as standard, with 24-way seats available as an option. Regardless of which you choose, the seats offer a good view and plenty of comfort and support. The interior is well laid-out too, making access to major functions easy. However, shorter individuals do have to lean forward a little to select the mode of the automatic transmission, with the buttons for this nestled towards the front of the center console.
The standard Corsair comes with leatherette in your choice of Ebony, Sandstone, or Medium Slate. You can opt for a Premium package and get leather upholstery instead, but this costs $3,900. On the Reserve trim, you get genuine wood trimming as standard, and both models feature contrasting metal-look accents, but while the base model requires you to pay extra for premium leather, the Reserve gets these upholstery options as standard. The same colors are available, but you also get access to a two-tone Ebony/Cashew finish. Also available is Beyond Blue leather, but this adds another $500 to the bill.
The Corsair offers a reasonable amount of space, with the cargo area able to contain 27.6 cubic feet worth of goods - enough for you to take the whole family on a weekend getaway with some space remaining. Should that not be enough, you can always drop the rear seats to open up an area measuring 57.6 cubic feet. By comparison, the BMW X3 has 28.7 cubes with all seats in place and 62.7 cubic feet with the second row folded.
In the Corsair's cabin, numerous storage options make it easy to keep the contents of your pockets safely stowed away. The center console features a pair of cupholders and a large storage bin for your phones, while the center armrest can carry supplementary items. The door pockets and glovebox are well-sized too, and rear passengers also have access to a pair of beverage holders.
As standard, the base variant of the Corsair features automatic LED headlights with running lights, as well as dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, heated power-folding mirrors, ten-way power-adjustable heated front seats, and a power tailgate. You also get blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, stop/start, cruise control, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and hill start assist. The Reserve builds on this with ambient lighting, a hands-free liftgate, LED fog lamps, front parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, and the option of adaptive suspension. Other available features include heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, a 360-degree parking camera, auto park assist, and adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition and evasive steering assist. A 12.3-inch configurable driver info display is also available, as are features like wireless charging, cornering headlights, a head-up display, and massaging front seats.
The infotainment system in the Corsair will be familiar to Ford owners, as the SYNC 3 eight-inch touchscreen is here too, albeit with different graphics. All the usual amenities are included, such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. Also included are four USB ports, one of which is a USB-C, and a ten-speaker sound system. Optionally available is voice-activated navigation with SiriusXM Traffic & Travel Link and a Revel Audio 14-speaker sound system with HD Radio. As in Ford applications, the system works well and responds quickly to inputs, but it is starting to get a little older now and isn't quite on par with what the likes of BMW offer.
Thus far, the Lincoln Corsair has been free of recalls. This is a new vehicle and may yet have teething issues, but the motor, transmission, and other parts are proven components that are unlikely to give issues now.
In the event of a problem, the Corsair is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, as well as a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. However, no complimentary scheduled maintenance is offered.
The NHTSA has awarded the Corsair a best possible overall score of five stars out of five. Meanwhile, the IIHS deems the Corsair worthy of receiving a Top Safety Pick award for 2020, with an even spread of Good scores for all evaluations.
As standard, the Corsair features a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision detection with autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, and hill start assist. Available features include rain-sensing windshield wipers, a 360-degree surround-view parking camera, an automatic parking system, front parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, and evasive steering assist. A rear collision prevention system is also available, while an SOS post-crash alert system is standard on all variants.
To put it simply, the Lincoln Corsair is indeed a good option for those who are looking for a comfortable, practical compact SUV. However, as a luxury lifestyle vehicle, the Corsair doesn't quite live up to its billing. It's not offensively bad in any way, but when you consider the fact that many of the available luxury features cost a pretty penny and are mainly only offered as part of packages, then the cost versus value argument swings in favor of more traditional luxury brands. Again, this is not a bad vehicle and offers decent acceleration, good towing ability, and a compliant ride. The cargo area is big enough for most, and the interior looks and feels splendid for the most part. There is also a good spread of standard features and the vehicle itself is blessed with good looks. However, in this segment, there are certainly better offerings out there that offer more space, greater handling ability, and a longer list of features.
The Lincoln Corsair starts at a base price of $35,945, before a destination charge of $995, and any other fees or taxes. The Reserve trim is pricier, starting at $42,630 before fees and taxes. Fully loaded, this top trim will set you back a little under $63,000.
The 2020 Lincoln Corsair is available in two trims variants: Standard and Reserve. It is available with either a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 250 hp or a 2.3-liter turbo-four with 295 hp. While the smaller motor can be paired with either a front-wheel-drive setup as standard or an optional AWD system, the larger engine only gets the latter offering. The bigger engine is also only available on the Reserve trim. Both come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Standard model is equipped with faux leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights with auto high beams, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, remote start, heated mirrors, and a SYNC 3 infotainment system with ten speakers, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio. You also get forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and hill start assist.
The Reserve model comes with more exterior paint options, as well as wood interior trim and premium leather upholstery as standard. This model also features ambient lighting, a hands-free liftgate, LED fog lamps, and a panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade. In addition, you get voice-activated navigation with SiriusXM Traffic & Travel Link and a Revel Audio 14-speaker sound system with HD Radio. The Reserve trim also has access to more options, including heated and ventilated front seats.
Various add-ons are available for both trims of the Lincoln Corsair, with the base model having access to the Standard I package. This adds ambient lighting, voice-activated navigation, a universal garage door opener, and a special set of 18-inch wheels. This package costs $1,650. Another package worth considering is the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus package. This adds an additional $3,050 to the base variant, but also gives you a surround-view camera, an automatic parking system, and adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, and evasive steering assist. Reverse brake assist is also thrown in to prevent you from backing into a passing vehicle or other obstacles. However, it is worth noting that this package requires you to also opt for the above Standard I package.
A few different configurations of the Corsair are available, but we would stick with the base engine and the base trim level. We'd also stick with front-wheel-drive unless the climate dictates otherwise. With this model, we'd add the abovementioned Co-Pilot360 Plus package to maximize the safety of the Corsair. As a by-product, you also get navigation and ambient lighting by selecting this package, but we would also add the Elements package for $1,100. This gives you heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel, as well as rain-sensing wipers. All in, this spec will cost a little over $43,000.
With a base price of $41,040, the Lincoln Nautilus is only a little pricier than the base Corsair. It too is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 250 hp and an eight-speed automatic transmission. While performance is thus a little poorer than in the Corsair, you do get a bigger vehicle and a fancier interior. The same sort of standard features are included on the Nautilus too, with the same infotainment system, upholstery finish, and safety features. However, this model can also be had with a 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 that produces 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, due to the vehicle's weight, this model can only tow a maximum of 3,500 lbs. For us, we'd rather opt for the cheaper Corsair and spend the extra money on comfort and convenience features.
An even pricier Lincoln is on offer with the Aviator, a model that starts at a little more than $51,000. However, that money does buy you a fair bit more, with the Aviator featuring a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 as standard. This power plant produces an impressive 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. A brilliant ten-speed automatic transmission is included too, and thanks to a rear-wheel-drive layout, the Aviator handles better than its size would suggest. The interior, although a little more premium than that in the Corsair, looks very similar to that of the cheaper vehicle. Thus, the reason to buy this car is practicality. It's larger and can offer up to 77.7 cubic feet of volume, or seat as many as seven. In addition, you get more luxury features and a generally more premium feel. However, at around 15 grand more than the Corsair, we'd stick with the smaller, nimbler Corsair.
Check out some informative Lincoln Corsair video reviews below.