Lincoln takes flight with new Corsair
By Jim Bray
Lincoln is out with a set of new SUV models that updates its line with a decidedly airplane-like – or tech-like anyway – mien, and judging from my couple of weeks in a pair of them they've done a very nice job of it.
The two I drove are the new Corsair, which replaces the Escape-based MKC, and the Explorer-related Aviator that sent the horrid-looking MKT to the showers. Between them there's also the Nautilus, which has no aviation connection in its name at all and fits in the product line like the Edge fits into Ford's (between the Escape and the Explorer).
Hopefully, the Nautilus won't lead to Ford shareholders getting a "sinking feeling"…
Click on the image to open a slideshow.
Anyway, my first experience with the new line was with the Corsair, which if I were looking to purchase or lease a Lincoln would be my choice, because it's small and I like small. And I liked it a lot. It's handsome, has a beautiful interior and it drives very well.
Corsairs' new bodywork differentiates itself from the more mainstream Escape very well; if I didn't know they were related under the skin I probably wouldn't have realized it. It's cool and classy inside and out, drives very well, and coddles you very nicely.
I'd have kind of liked it to see Lincoln install reverse gull wing doors onto it to hearken back to the Vought F4U Corsair whose name it shares, but the doors are all quite conventional – and I can't imagine how automotive engineers could have pulled that feat off, anyway.
The base price of Lincoln Canada's "Reserve" sample was $50,500, which is a pretty fair price to these eyes for a luxury SUV like this. It was optioned up quite a bit, however, and some of the added value is stuff I'd like to have were I buying one: stuff like "equipment group 202A" and its heated/ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers with de-icer, co-pilot 360 degree package (60-Degree Camera, Active Park Assist Plus, Evasive Steering Assist, Reverse Brake Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist which includes Stop-and-Go and Lane Centering, and even Speed Sign Recognition). The package also includes the dynamic handling and remote start features.
That's a pile of extras, though I'd argue that a lot of them should be standard in a vehicle at this market level – heated/ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers, etc. But they aren't.
Other extras included a very nice head's up display ($1,500) and handsome and fancy 20-inch wheels ($1,150). Add 'em all up and that's over $14,000 in options. Wow!
The Corsair gets its motivation not only from Ford's profit motivation, but from a lovely 2.3 litre turbocharged Four. It appears to have been a no-cost option on the sample, because the base engine is listed as a two-litre turbo Four. The base engine puts out a quite reasonable 250/280 horses/torque and it's undoubtedly just fine. Ah, but the 2.3 is rated at 295/310 hp/torque and it's quite fun.
Power gets to all four wheels via a smooth, eight speed automatic transmission and, yes, there are paddles to let you take control over the process somewhat.
The suspension is independent all around and you can all an optional adaptive suspension as well. The sample didn't have that, but it drove nicely nonetheless.
Naturally, you get disc brakes all around (well, only on the wheels…) and they have all the usual tech assistants like ABS etc..
Lincoln gives you five drive modes and unlike more pedestrian vehicles it doesn't label them with descriptive titles like "Sport" or "Eco" or the like. Nope, here it's "Excite," "Conserve", "Normal", "Slippery" and "Deep Conditions" modes, which undoubtedly translate from marketing-speak as, well, "Normal", "Eco", "Sport", and the like. I admire Lincoln's spunk here, but really…
Not surprisingly, I quite enjoyed "Excite" mode, though calling it that must mean the Lincoln dudes and dudettes never drove a Porsche Macan…
The "inclement condition" modes worked very well when we had some crummy weather here in the Alberta foothills during my time with the Corsair. As they should. Ford (and by default Lincoln) really does a good job with these "snow etc." modes.
Inside is a classy cabin that I liked a lot. It's not only chic, though, it works really well. Unlike some luxury (and a few non-luxury) brands, there's no silly mouse or track pad to drive you nuts; instead, you get a touch screen that works as it should (though a tad slowly) and the Ford/Lincoln Sync interface that's still one of the best on the market, in my never humble opinion.
I tell you, some of today's luxe yachts are so annoying to operate that I wouldn't buy one (I'm talking to you Lexus, BMW, Acura and a few more), while "lower class" makers like Mazda, Kia, Hyundai, VW and others give you simple and easy to fathom interfaces that make life with the vehicle much more pleasant.
I love how Lincoln placed the transmission gear selector buttons right on the centre stack, in a little horizontal row below the HVAC vents and above the other controls. It's slick, unobtrusive, works well, and (unlike the Escape's) frees up space on the centre console.
The Corsair's controls are laid out nicely, work well, and don't take an otherwise useless university degree to figure out. The only real issue I had was with the seat controls. Lincoln has been inspired by Mercedes-Benz here (hey, if you're going to steal….) by putting them on the doors, just under the windows. They work fine and were I to own a Lincoln or Benz I'd get used to it quickly, but because I had it for only a short time, I kept reaching down to the side of the seats to get at them. Duh!
It's also a very quiet vehicle to drive, with plenty of sound isolation and active noise control (I could use that for my grandkids!). Lincoln's sample also sported a lovely panoramic sunroof.
All in all, I quite liked my experience in the Corsair. I liked the MKC it replaces, too, but this one is a nice upgrade. I'm not sure it's worth the money it would take to get one that's loaded fully, but that's for potential customers to decide.
Corsairs start at $44,700, which is pretty decent as long as you can live with the lack of toys and the smaller engine. I'd probably spec one pretty much like Lincoln's $64,775 sample, but for that price I might also be checking out the Audi Q3. I configured one – as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as I could create – on Audi's Canadian website and it came in at just shy of 50 grand Canadian.
Heck, you can even get a pretty-well loaded Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC for $61,870 and a similarly-equipped Lexus NX for $58,245. And that's just three examples.
Lincoln appears to be wanting a premium for its premium vehicles and I can understand why. But pricing it so high makes me wonder if the company is giving up a competitive advantage it could really use considering the marques place in the car market for the past, well, years.
Perhaps they could have taken a lesson from the early Lexi, which upped the ante in their niche while undercutting the established competition in price.
Still, it's a very nice vehicle.
Stay tuned for my look at the new Aviator in an upcoming rant, er, column.
Copyright 2020 Jim Bray