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2020 Lincoln Corsair First Test Review: Worth Its Premium Price?

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 10/1/2019 Motor Trend Staff

Let the debate begin. The 2020 Lincoln Corsair is a compact luxury SUV with a premium price tag. Lincoln's MKC replacement can be priced higher than an Audi Q3 or Volvo XC40, but it's less than a Range Rover Evoque. Bearing the Lincoln nameplate further muddies the water because the marque was once the grand dame of luxury, but it fell from grace when its vehicles became little more than gussied-up Fords.

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Research the Lincoln Corsair on MSN Autos

These days, though, the brand has been transforming itself. Lincoln has put in the work and designed some stellar new products. But it takes time to win back skeptics. Even the MotorTrend editors grapple with ghosts of Lincolns past as we try to objectively evaluate whether this new crop of luxury vehicles is worth the sticker price.

We recently had in a pair of new 2020 Corsairs for testing. The Corsair 2.0T AWD starts at $39,140, but our tester was optioned up to $54,375. The 2.3T AWD Reserve has a $45,825 base price, and ours listed for $60,110.

a car parked on the side of a road © Motor Trend Staff

The Corsair is the smallest Lincoln luxury SUV, the compact counterpart to the Ford Escape and replacement for the Lincoln MKC.

Although it shares the same new front-wheel-drive platform as the 2020 Escape, Ford has designed and engineered two very different vehicles. Few buyers will confuse or even cross-shop them. The Corsair is longer and wider, and the floating roof sits lower. It costs more, but there's evidence that you get what you pay for. "A solid and surprising offering from Lincoln," editor-in-chief Ed Loh said.

The Corsair offers lots of power with a pair of turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The base engine is a 2.0-liter I-4 that generates 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque (this engine is an optional upgrade in the Escape). Corsair Reserve buyers can up the ante with an available 2.3-liter that produces 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the Corsair has piano-key buttons for gear selection.

"The base engine is stout, and the upgrade is a straight firecracker. This little thing is quick," features editor Scott Evans said. Although the 2.3-liter felt quick, its actual difference over the 2.0-liter was surprisingly small: less than a second. The base engine did the scoot from 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds; the 2.3-liter clocked in at 6.5 seconds. That compares with 8.1 and 9.0 seconds for the Evoque P300 and P250, respectively. The Q3, equipped with a 228-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four, took 8.5 seconds. In other words, this little Corsair has game.

a car driving down a dirt road © Motor Trend Staff

"The Corsair may not turn a corner like some in the segment, but it makes up for that with a competent, lightweight chassis, direct steering, and a punchy little engine," features editor Christian Seabaugh said. "Smooth, smooth, smooth," Loh said.

The Corsair was downright fun on the handling course with light steering and a nimble overall feel. It had some lean in the corners and bounce on the transitions. In short, it felt alive but still in control. "Almost Mazda Miata-like," Evans said, despite some transmission hesitation on a downshift.

The Corsair also delivers a quiet and absorbent ride. The Lincoln has a more advanced suspension than the Escape with a new rear integral bush suspension. Further smoothing the ride is Lincoln's optional continuous controlled damping system. It also has one of the better lane keep steering assist systems.

All-wheel drive is standard with the larger engine in and optional with the base engine. The intelligent AWD system disconnects to automatically send as much as 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels if needed. The little crossover is an overachiever in the dirt. The AWD system likes sending power rearward, so it'll throttle -teer itself out of a corner like a rally car and had no trouble clawing out of the sand.

Inside, the 2020 Corsair lives up to its big brothers in creating a premium space that coddles and pampers. Judges were mostly impressed by the interiors of our well-equipped testers, which provided soft-touch materials and high-grade leather.

a car parked in a parking lot with Holden Arboretum in the background: 2020 Lincoln Corsair 2 3T AWD Reserve front three quarter in motion 5 © Motor Trend Staff 2020 Lincoln Corsair 2 3T AWD Reserve front three quarter in motion 5

Evans thought the floating center console and ergonomically pleasing slanted buttons gave the Corsair a mid-century modern vibe. Controls on the elegant steering wheel are kept to a minimum and are easy to use, especially the push-to-talk button where the thumb rests—an aha moment that should become an industry standard. Loh says the layout and design makes it easy to select the proper gear without looking. There are 30-way adjustable seats with controls on the door like a Mercedes.

The compact luxury SUV's second row is roomy, with ample leg- and headroom, as well as air vents, two USB ports, and a 12-volt power outlet. It sports the same top-notch materials as the front row and rich sound from the Revel stereo system. The large cargo area includes some underfloor storage compartments, and the rear seats have fold-down buttons. If you only need a five-passenger vehicle, the all-new Corsair deserves your consideration over the larger midsize Lincoln Nautilus that received a mid-cycle refresh.

The Corsair should appeal to young professional women who want good looks, high ride height, an uplifting stereo, utility, efficiency, capability, and a comfortable but sporty ride from the vantage of nice seats.

"The Corsair represents another step toward making the luxury brand relevant again," senior production editor Zach Gale said. "Those who give it a chance and can stomach the prices will find a solid luxury crossover with smart touches. The Detroit Symphony chimes, the Lexus-like leather inside of the interior door pulls, and that clamshell rear liftgate are emotionally grabbing details."

Research the Lincoln Corsair on MSN Autos

You can save money and get the Audi or the Volvo. You can pay $5,000 more for the Evoque we tested that wasn't as good. Or you can accept this is how much luxury SUVs go for these days and decide that Lincoln is a little firecracker with a sense of refinement. It offers more, and you get what you pay for.

DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT

2020 Lincoln Corsair 2.0T (AWD)

Front-engine, AWD

2020 Lincoln Corsair 2.3T (AWD Reserve)

Front-engine, AWD
ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4, alum block/headTurbocharged I-4, alum block/head
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cylDOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 122.0 cu in/1,999cc138.0 cu in/2261cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.0:110.0:1
POWER (SAE NET) 250 hp @ 5,500 rpm280 hp @ 5,500 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 280 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm310 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
REDLINE 6,500 rpm6,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 15.9 lb/hp14.5 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic8-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.81:1/2.35:13.81:1/2.35:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multi-link, adj shocks, anti-roll barStruts, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multi-link, adj shocks, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 16.3:116.3:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.82.8
BRAKES, F;R 12.1-in vented disc; 11.9-in disc, ABS12.1-in vented disc; 11.9-in disc, ABS
WHEELS 7.5 x 19-in cast aluminum8.0 x 20-in cast aluminum
TIRES 225/55R19 99V M+S Michelin Primacy Tour A/S245/45R20 99V M+S Continental CrossContact LX Sport
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 106.7 in106.7 in
TRACK, F/R 62.6/63.4 in62.2/63.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 180.6 x 76.2 x 64.1 in180.6 x 76.2 x 64.1 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 7.9 in7.9 in
APPRCH/DEPEART ANGLE 20.5/23.8 deg20.5/23.8 deg
TURNING CIRCLE 37.1 ft37.1 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3,983 lb4,047 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R 56/44 %56/44%
TOWING CAPACITY 3,000 lb3,000 lb
SEATING CAPACITY 55
HEADROOM, F/R 39.5/38.7 in39.5/38.7 in
LEGROOM, F/R 43.2/38.6 in43.2/38.6 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 57.1/56.3 in57.1/56.3 in
CARGO VOLUME, BEH F/R 57.6/27.6 cu ft57.6/27.6 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.3 sec2.4 sec
0-40 3.53.4
0-50 5.34.9
0-60 7.36.5
0-70 9.78.5
0-80 12.610.9
0-90 16.213.9
0-100
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.13.3
QUARTER MILE 15.6 sec @ 88.4 mph15.0 sec @ 92.9 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 126 ft118 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.79 g (avg)0.80 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.7 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)27.3 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,750 rpm1,750 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $39,140$45,825
PRICE AS TESTED $54,375$60,110
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/YesYes/Yes
AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee
BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 6 yrs/70,000 miles6 yrs/70,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE Unlimited milesUnlimited miles
FUEL CAPACITY 16.2 gal16.2 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB TARGET 21/29/24 mpg21/28/24 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 160/116 kW-hr/100 miles160/120 kW-hr/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.81 lb/mile0.82 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premiumUnleaded premium
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