Lincoln Ups Its Compact SUV Game

The hottest automotive category these days is the small SUV/crossover segment. Lexus first popularized this two-row, five passenger people and/or cargo hauling luxury niche with its RX model. Also back in 1998, when RXs were flying off the shelf, Lincoln and Cadillac launched big, luxury SUVs labeled Navigator and Escalade. All the players prospered.
Creating a Difference

Some luxury brand buyers may be blissfully unaware that the foundation of their vehicle may be based on an automaker’s volume offering, but that does not mean they’re unsophisticated shoppers. They know what luxury should look and feel like. And since normal nameplates can now be optioned with gear that was only available for their luxury siblings, automakers have to demonstrate value in their higher priced brands.

Lincoln clearly got that message when it revamped its product lineup. The venerable luxury brand began by shedding forgettable, three-letter model IDs and replacing them with memorable names. Navigator was easy, since it hadn’t succumbed to a MK-something and the newest version of Lincoln’s SUV flagship is more than competitive with the world’s best. Corsair, formerly known as MKC, is Lincoln’s latest model, joining Nautilus and Aviator to round out its SUV lineup. And it’s as dramatic a change in this small segment offering as the award-winning Navigator was when it was thoroughly redone.

Curb Appeal

The new Corsair looks like an SUV that you might spend serious currency to acquire, and that’s not unimportant since our fully-loaded Reserve model’s MSRP hovered just under $60-grand. Design director David Woodhouse pulled cues from the flagship Navigator to create a strong, tall shouldered stance and an attitude he calls a rolling sculpture. The result is a luxury SUV that is nicely unique from its several rivals.

It’s asserted that a buyer may be smitten by a vehicle’s exterior, but the deal is closed on the inside. The Lincoln team clearly understood this maxim and our Corsair delivered, from its soft leather, 24-way adjustable seating to new switch gear, an improved Sync 4 interface, piano key shifter and even orchestral chimes. Not only are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available, but you can leave the key fob at home and use the Lincoln Way app to operate every function of the Corsair.

Quiet and Composed

Turbocharged four-cylinder engines are the norm in this class, and Lincoln’s Corsair combines its 245-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine with an 8-speed automatic, a combination that easily moves the 3,800-pound SUV. And the efficient engine goes about its work in silence, unless pushed for quick merging duties. In fact, the entire cabin provided luxurious quiet so occupants could enjoy conversation or the 12-channel, 14-speaker Revel audio system.

Our all-wheel-drive Corsair was equipped with a rotary control for every road condition, from snow and mud to spirited driving with paddle shifters. I’m sure it’s capable to get a bit off the paved road and the suspension delivers a smooth ride while keeping its composure and the steering is nicely weighted. But what I’ve come away with is how nicely this new Lincoln punches above its weight against very worthy luxury rivals.

THE FINE PRINT

2020 Lincoln Corsair Reserve AWD

TYPE:  Front-engine, all-wheel-drive

ENGINE:  2.0-liter Turbo I-4

HORSEPOWER:  245 @ 5,500-RPM

TORQUE:  275 lb.ft. @ 3,000-RPM

BASE PRICE: $44,830

AS TESTED:  $59,660

FUEL CONSUMPTION:  22-city, 29-highway, 24-combined