These days, if you’re in the luxury vehicle business, that means you’re also in the SUV business. And, believe it or not, boasting one of the freshest utility lineups in the industry is Lincoln. The latest example of which is an all-new compact…the Corsair. Let’s find our if their smallest ute will have a big impact on the brand’s future.
This 2020 Lincoln Corsair is an all-new crossover, replacing the MKC as the smallest offering in Lincoln’s SUV lineup. But, like the MKC, it shares a chassis with the compact Ford Escape; which is also all-new for 2020.
Standard engine here, is the Escape’s available 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4; with 250-horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque.
Optional, is the 2.3-liter EcoBoost which most people associate with the Mustang; but it was actually Lincoln that brought it to market first in the MKC. Output now sits at 295-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque.
Both engines get a new 8-speed automatic transmission, and both can tow up to 3,000-lbs.
All-wheel-drive is standard with the 2.3-liter, optional with the 2.0. Lincoln’s Intelligent AWD system is primarily geared towards all-weather capability, not really for off-road use; but it does add a performance benefit as well, and for fuel economy’s sake, the rear can be fully disconnected if not needed for traction.
In this new era of Lincoln, small and entry-level doesn’t mean de-contented. The list of standard features is quite lengthy… heated front seats, power liftgate, and remote start… and most materials are quite nice, as the interior has little resemblance to the Escape. Lincoln calls it a sanctuary for the senses. We may not go that far, but for a compact, it is pretty impressive.
It’s also very comfortable in all seating positions. The dash is low, which aids visibility all around; but that also means the infotainment screen rests on top; one thing it does share with the Escape. But, it doesn’t look too out of place, is easy to reach, and functionally pretty simple to figure out.
Plenty of tech filters down from larger Lincoln’s such as the available 12.3-inch full LED gauge panel, piano key-like gear selectors, 14-speaker Revel audio, Phone As a Key, and Co-Pilot 360 safety.
Rear seat leg room is quite good with 6-inches of seat travel, but most adults would appreciate a little more headroom. Plenty of space for gear in the back however; 27.6 cubic-ft., expanding to 57.6 with the rear seatbacks folded.
Our first drive opportunity saw us cavorting about the rolling hills around San Francisco. Power from the 2.3-liter is plentiful, and it is delivered quite smoothly; having a much different feel than in the Mustang. The base 2.0-liter is certainly adequate, but the upgrade is worth the money.
Between all of the sound deadening and active noise cancelation, you won’t really hear a whole lot of grumbling coming from either engine. Hmmm... maybe this really is a sanctuary.
Same basic suspension design as the Escape up front; yet it, as well as steering response, are tuned specifically for Lincoln customers. Read that a bit softer. The rear gets a more thorough revamping with a unique multi-link arrangement. Adaptive dampers are also available here, as well as Lincoln drive modes to further customize the ride.
Lincoln engineers are quick to point out that all development was done independent of what was happening over at Ford, once they both had the basic architecture to build upon. And after having driven both recently, we will agree the Corsiar’s ride is much smoother and more sophisticated than the Escape’s.
Not the usual sport and comfort drive modes here; instead, your options are Normal, Conserve, Excite, Slippery, and Deep, each very comprehensive with powertrain and chassis adjustments. In “Excite”, body roll is well-controlled; steering quick and fairly responsive.
From all angles, Corsair looks quite regal. Where the Ford Escape appears like a taller hatchback, the Corsair looks like a smaller version of larger Lincoln SUVs, which is a very good thing.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for front-wheel-drive 2.0-liter are 22-City, 29-Highway, and 25-Combined. Not much penalty for the all-wheel-drive 2.3-liter, at 21-City, 28-Highway, and 24-Combined.
Both have an average Energy Impact Score, the 2.0-liter’s a tiny bit better at 13.2-barrels of yearly oil consumption, with CO2 emissions of 6.0-tons.
Pricing starts at $36,940, with all-wheel-drive a $2,200 option. But like most luxury rides, it ratchets up quickly to top trim Reserve with all-wheel-drive and the 2.3-liter EcoBoost, at $46,965.
The really tough thing for small luxury utilities to overcome, is that unless you really want to be pampered, you can buy a lot more vehicle for less money if you look to the midsize mass market brands...like cousin Ford. So, luxury compacts must be really special to appeal to more than just brand loyalists, of which there are very few these days. The 2020 Lincoln Corsair packs enough luxury, technology, and refinement to be just the kind of ute that can pull that off.
Engine: 2.0 liter / 2.3 liter
Horsepower: 250 / 295
Torque: 280 lb-ft. / 310 lb-ft.
EPA: 22 mpg city / 29 mpg highway (For 2.0 liter)
Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.0 tons