Small luxury SUVs are like opinions and you know everyone has one. Lincoln's newest is the 2020 Corsair, which shares its modular platform with the all-new Ford Escape, and glides in the dock in the fall as well as the mid-sized Lincoln Nautilus, three-row flyer and battleship size navigator.
Lincoln offered journalists a practical preview of Corsair before the official revealing Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show. And even though the replacement of the long-term Lincoln MKC seems smartly packed and technologically knowledgeable, Ford's luxury unit needs to prove it can win over buyers in a killed or broken segment that includes the best-selling Acura RDX, Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Range Rover Evoque and for many others to mention.
In the midst of a great marketing jargon from Lincoln's leaders – including references to the brand's "Quiet Flight" slogan and interiors as "human shrines" – we dug deeper to understand how Corsair can stand out in its sharp elbowed marketplace. Message design cues from Aviator and Navigator with a modest help from Audi and Range Rover (the latter in the sharply declining roofline and roof spoiler), Corsair definitely has one thing that goes for it: Unlike some badge-engineered Lincoln's old, Corsair won't confused with his Ford branded Escape counterpart. And while ancient enthusiasts (like me) can glide up and call it Corvair, it shouldn't matter to the upward mobile younger peoples or empty nesters that Lincoln sees as this crossover's main audience.
Corsair breaks no new design ground, and prefers to walk the sober, standing ladder forged by its Lincoln SUV staffs, only with a lighter footprint. Lincoln's signature light grille fronts a particularly low, wide design, with deeply sculpted body sides and aluminum rims starting at 18 inches and top with optional 20's. The rear end looks like the design highlight, including protruding "S-curves" that recall the stacked underfloor – or toned down the Renault with sleek LED ceiling lights and a a vogue full-width lighting strip. Lifting the tailgate via the smartphone shows Lincoln's "Phone as Key" technology, which can completely replace a key fob and steer everything from locking, unlocking and starting to remember up to 80 feature settings for individual users. Rolled up trusses, both front and rear, can be increased by some design critics. But Lincoln designers defended them with a number of design sketches that showed how they visually lengthen the vehicle.
Like some petite competitors, Corsair will be built with the Escape in Louisville, Ky., Being offered exclusively in the turbocharged four-cylinder deck: a 2.0 liter with 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, or a 2.3 liter with 280 horses and 310 pounds feet. Both engines pair with an eight-speed, pedal-shift automatic transmission. Intelligent AWD comes with both engines, with a fuel-saving, rear-axle coupling that allows Corsair to operate in propulsion mode. For AWD models, five selectable driving modes will replace known names such as "Eco" and "Sport" with "Conserve" and "Excite, respectively." An available 12.3-inch digital driver display flashes these driving modes in animated form, with an eight
Tension can be relative, with Lincoln highlighting Corsair's tranquility, comfort and connectivity, with no mention of sports or performance. As Rolls-Royce has the market on "wafting", Lincoln promises "gliding" as the overall feeling. Compared to the more affordable Escape, Corsair adds a dual-wall dashboard with a composite barrier to noise and vibration, active noise control and a unique multi-link rear suspension that Lincoln calls an "Integral Bush" design. An acoustic windshield is standard, with acoustic side glass optional.
The padded cabin aims at the conservative, crazy American style of Navigator and Aviator, albeit at a lower price. A striking, floating center console cantilever from a strong horizontal dashboard. Ambient lighting, in the choice of seven colors, illuminates a Lincoln logo under the console. Lincoln's cosseting, 24-way "Perfect Position" seats are a lux option, including individual thigh amplifiers and massage. A nocturnal, sea-blue and white interior is one of three new cabin forms.
A steering wheel has a push-to-talk button that is cleverly placed on the thumb support and holds the hands on the wheel. Wifi is standard, which is Lincoln's "Co-Pilot 360" with automated emergency braking and pedestrian detection, rear camera, blind spot and cross traffic detection, lane and automated high beams. For extra dough, owners get adaptive cruise control with car driving, elusive steering assistance, rear brake assistance and a self-parking system that does everything by pressing a button – fully automated steering, shifting, braking and throttle control for either parallel or straight-in parking. There is also an optional panoramic roof terrace, boot screen, 14-speaker Revel Premium audio device and a mid-arm wireless charger.
Passenger and cargo space (and exterior visibility) are strong suits: Like Escape, Corsair's second row of seats can slide six inches in front and back, for more maximum legroom (38.6 inches) than any larger SUVs, including Mercedes GLS Class and Tesla Model X. The seat rear seat is manually operated, unlike some fully powered rivals. But the cargo space behind the erect second row is also generous, as Lincoln demonstrated by stacking four massive suitcases inside. Lincoln has not released prices for 2020 Corsair sold this fall. But a price of about $ 36,000 to $ 37,000 seems to be a safe bet, a touch more than a current MKC, and on a par with Acura's RDX.
This former Motown man was charmed by the selection of six "Symphonic Chimes" aboard, calling out in various situations, all sampled from recordings by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Now, if Corsair receives a trumpeting fanfare from the buyer, or a funeral request, remains to be seen.