2020 Lincoln Corsair Test Drive

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Oct 01, 2019


Small luxury SUVs are popular, and nearly every premium brand sells one. Lincoln has been in the segment for several years, offering the MKC to people seeking upscale design, materials, and features adorned with the Lincoln star logo. J.D. Power even ranked the MKC highest in the compact premium SUV class for initial quality in 2018.

Now, the MKC’s successor has arrived. Called the 2020 Lincoln Corsair, it resembles a shrink-wrapped Aviator inside and out – which is a good thing. Continuing with a choice between two turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, front-wheel and all-wheel drive, and plenty of high-tech extras, the new 2020 Corsair provides a level of refinement and sophistication that the old MKC simply could not.

2020 Lincoln Corsair White Front Quarter

Prices are up by nearly $2,000, to a new starting point of $35,940, including the $995 destination charge. They rise beyond $61,500 if you add every option.

Styling and Design

Due to its basis on Ford’s latest global front-drive vehicle architecture, the Corsair carries more visual weight over its front wheels than do the tautly penned Aviator midsize and Navigator full-size SUVs. This gives the little Corsair a bit of a puffy-faced appearance, similar to the larger Nautilus.

A variety of paint colors, wheel designs, and styling upgrades are available for the Corsair. All include black-painted roof pillars and side mirror caps, giving the SUV’s roof a floating appearance.

Inside, the Corsair takes inspiration from the Aviator and Navigator. The dashboard features horizontal orientation and glitzy Art Deco detailing combined with traditional knobs and buttons for the stereo and climate control systems. Multiple interior color schemes mean you need not settle for a black-on-black cabin atmosphere.

Comfort and Cargo

Equipped with 24-way, power adjustable, Perfect Position front seats, the test vehicle was comfortable during a daylong drive. Heating, ventilation, and massage made sure of that. Unfortunately, the edge of the center control pod dug into the side of my knee over hundreds of miles behind the heated, power-adjustable steering wheel. Lincoln needs to add more padding in that location.

Rear seat comfort is good for a small SUV, and both air conditioning vents and USB ports are standard. The test vehicle had heated cushions and a household-style power outlet. Lincoln puts the rear seat on sliding tracks to mix-and-match passenger and cargo space, but if adults are riding in the back the seat needs to be in its rearmost position.

You’ll want it placed there anyway; otherwise a gap forms in the trunk, swallowing smaller items. Cargo space measures 27.6 cu.-ft. behind the back seat, and 57.6 cu.-ft. with the rear seatbacks folded down.

Safety and Technology

There is no shortage of technology baked into the new Lincoln Corsair. Standard equipment includes a Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Lincoln Connect with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, 911 Assist, and more. Navigation is an upgrade, along with a 14-speaker Revel premium surround sound audio system.

Additional options include a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation panel, a comprehensive head-up display, and Phone as a Key technology. This transforms your smartphone into the Corsair’s key through the Lincoln Way smartphone app, relieving you of the responsibility of carrying the rather large key fob.

Lincoln Co-Pilot360 advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) are standard on every Corsair. Upgrade to Co-Pilot360 Plus, and the SUV includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, lane-centering assist, a 360-degree surround-view camera, front parking sensors, reverse automatic braking, speed sign recognition, and evasive steering assist.

Overall, the contents of each ADAS package operate with accuracy and refinement. The speed sign recognition technology did, however, get it wrong on two occasions, interpreting 65 mph signs as 85 mph. In response to this, the adaptive cruise control began rapidly accelerating the Corsair, forcing me to shut the system off.

Active Park Assist Plus is also available for the Corsair, and it’s an impressive system. When activated, it identifies properly sized parallel and perpendicular parking spaces and takes control of the steering, transmission, brakes, and accelerator. Basically, the driver sits there, monitoring the proceedings, while the technology parks the SUV.

Driving Impressions

A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard in the Corsair, generating 250 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters powers the SUV’s front wheels, and all-wheel drive is an option. The AWD system can disconnect the driveshaft that delivers power to the rear wheels, helping to improve fuel economy.

A turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder is optional, cranking out 295 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. Like the standard engine, it pairs with the 8-speed automatic. The AWD system is required with this engine.

Lincoln Drive Modes can adjust the engine response, transmission, steering, traction control, and, when equipped, adaptive suspension to specific settings. They include Conserve, Normal, Excite, Slippery, and Deep Conditions. Notice that an off-road mode is unavailable. That’s because the Corsair is designed for on-pavement travel instead of adventuring into the wild.

During a drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by way of California Route 1, the Corsair proved itself a rewarding conveyance. From the comforting seats and Revel sound system to the turbo 2.3-liter and adaptive suspension, it was ready for anything.

In Conserve mode, the Corsair soaked up long stretches of road, gliding along in isolated bliss. For the cliff-hanging ribbons of blacktop draped along the state’s central coast, Excite mode added a thrill, stiffening the suspension, weighting up the steering, and delivering quicker response to inputs. In the city and suburbs, Normal proved best, adapting to ever-changing conditions.

The Lincoln Corsair is neither a performance SUV nor a rugged SUV. Instead, it is designed to make the daily drive as soothing and effortless as possible. For the most part, it does just that, allowing perhaps a little too much road and wind noise to enter the cabin from somewhere behind the front seats.


With the 2020 Corsair, Lincoln wades into a heavily populated vehicle segment full of good choices. Armed with a list of ownership benefits and privileges, such as free pickup and delivery service for scheduled maintenance, the Corsair gives the people who buy one something extra. But even without the added perks, this new Lincoln SUV can compete on its merits.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2023 J.D. Power

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