Road Test Review – 2020 Lincoln Corsair Reserve – By Carl Malek

When we concluded our time with the Lincoln Aviator, we mused that perhaps Lincoln had finally found the missing ingredient towards long term success in the luxury utility market. But while the Aviator has managed to make a big splash for offering buyers a world class interior, impressive performance, and three row capability. It cannot shoulder the burden of Lincoln’s broader goals alone, and needs a supporting actor to help it in this regard. Enter the all new Corsair which aims to help broaden Lincoln’s appeal in this key arena. Replacing the long running and equally long in the tooth MKC, the Corsair brings a blast of freshness into Lincoln showrooms. But can the Corsair be the glue that helps bolster Lincoln’s volume sales? or is it still a bit behind the times?


Fresh Styling Brings A New Identity To Showrooms:

That identity begins with the nameplate, Corsair. While we first assumed that Lincoln was drawing inspiration from the F4U Corsair fighter which played a key role during the latter half of World War II, spoiler alert, that is not what Lincoln was going for here. Instead, the brand is actually paying homage to being a pirate. Obscure connections to plundering and Captain Jack Sparrow’s lavish hair aside, the Corsair is a Ford Escape wearing a nicely pressed tuxedo. It’s upscale vibe has strong Aviator influence, and while it does not quite catch the eye the way the bigger Aviator does. It’s own unique personality still allows it to fit in nicely with the rest of the lineup. The front fascia features healthy amounts of chrome, and distinctive headlights to help light the way at night.

The side profile is arguably where its Escape origins shine through the most with a functional profile being accented by several strategically placed curves and creases. The rear end features a full length light bar that has become a recent calling card for many Lincoln models, while the rest of the rear fascia incorporates more poise, balance, and elegance in its profile. It also allows the Corsair to finally be on par with competitors such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and the Mercedes GLC. If we had to rate where the Corsair ends up among these three, we would say its above the Audi and the Mercedes, but it doe not quite have the same athletic flair that is possessed by the BMW.


A Cabin Filled With Luxury And Silence:

When it comes to the Corsair, Lincoln execs prefer buyers feel the inner luxury and power wielded by the Corsair versus hearing it. This translates into the interior which does a good job of being a sensory deprivation chamber. The sheer amount of isolation created by the interior is very impressive, with Lincoln engineers equipping the Corsair with thick sound absorbing glass for the windshield and front glass. Generous helpings of acoustic deadening material are also scattered through the cabin, and the stereo even comes equipped with active noise cancellation technology. This helps keep road noise to a minimum, and wind noise is a seldom visitor inside the otherwise whisper quiet interior.

Silence is golden, but that would be an insult to the rest of the Corsair’s interior which relishes the spotlight. There’s healthy amounts of leather, soft touch plastics, and splashes of real wood trim. An 8.0 inch touchscreen infotainment system is centrally mounted on the semi-floating center console. Plush and modern, this interior is a radical departure from its mainstream Ford origins especially when paired with one of the available two-tone color schemes. Our tester ditched the two-tone, and instead embraced a bold blue color scheme (Beyond Blue in Lincoln speak.) The piano key shift toggles on the center stack do take a brief moment to get used, but you adjust quickly like other Lincoln offerings. An optional 12.3 inch display cluster as well as a heads up display do their part to bring plenty of information to the driver. A big boost to its technology arsenal is its all new phone-as-a-key feature which uses the Lincoln Way smartphone app to offer features such as remote vehicle unlock and locking, as well as remote start all without the use of a formal key.

The 10-way power seats in our tester were very comfortable, but savvy shoppers will undoubtedly gravitate towards the optional 24-way power seats that even include a massaging function for luxurious comfort on long jaunts. The new platform also offers more rear leg room, and that was a welcome feature that proved to be a hit with some of the passengers we had back there. The space behind the second row can haul up to 28 cubic feet of stuff which is more than the Lexus RX, but does come up a bit short against the Acura RDX.


Indifferent Driving Experience Sullies The Mood:

 With the luxury and functionality that is baked into the Corsair, it is a pity that like the Aviator, the performance hardware is the most disappointing aspect of the CUV. Unlike the Aviator which suffered from rough transitions between EV and traditional engine power, the Corsair suffers from being too plain in everyday use. Base Corsairs like our tester use a 2.0 liter 250 horsepower turbocharged four cylinder engine, but buyers can equip it with the optional 2.3 liter four cylinder that brings 295 horsepower to the party, but can only be paired with all-wheel drive. The 2.0 liter in our tester did a good job going through the motions, but it preferred to lurk in the background, and quietly do its job. Putting it into Excite mode does help wake up the throttle, but the Corsair is clearly not an instrument meant to be pushed hard.

Handling in the Corsair is secure, but it will certainly not be the sportiest experience in the world, with body roll being very noticeable, and the steering being about as responsive as Blackbeard’s ship when tasked with tackling a slalom course. We will give props to the brakes which have a firm pedal, and do a good job dropping anchor when it comes time to bring the Corsair to a stop. There are certainly far sportier offerings out there, but the Corsair does deserve credit for being a very balanced package, but until we get a chance to sample the electrified Grand Touring trim, we are left wanting more out of the Lincoln’s driving manners.


Value Quotient:

Like other luxury CUVs, the Corsair’s value quotient quickly erodes away when you tack on optional extras, with many of the Corsair’s noteworthy equipment being optional extras. When this is factored in, the Corsair can easily climb past $60,000 though our lightly optioned tester managed to come in at just under $56,000. This is still a good chunk of money especially considering that both the Audi and the BMW can be had for slightly less. It’s best to approach the Corsair’s option sheet with modesty. If you do, you will be rewarded with a decent luxury CUV offering. If you go all in, then the Corsair will live up to its pirate namesake, and plunder your wallet of all it’s treasure.