2020 Lincoln Corsair

INDIANAPOLIS — Call it the Matthew McConaughey affect, or just a deep reflection on the brand’s rich heritage, but Lincoln is having a moment.  As it featured the actor in commercials, it threw off the “MK-Whatever” naming silliness and focused on delivering lush American luxury, imagined for the next decade.  What began with the Continental has migrated to the Navigator, mid-size Nautilus, and full-size Aviator crossovers.  It flows here to the compact 2020 Corsair, which replaces the MKC.
There is a definitely a family resemblance across all models that begins with the large chrome grille, beefy contours, and narrow full-width taillamps.  There’s a muscularity to its forms, elegance in how the Lincoln logo is molded into the grille, and sleekness to its Range Rover roofline.  Our Reserve package’s black roof and mirror caps, 20” wheels, and Red Carpet metallic paint are especially fetching.  From every angle, it looks expensively swift.
And, the upscale ambience continues inside where stitched dash coverings, aluminum trim, and chrome starter button surround could have come from a ’61 Continental.  The “piano key” push button gear selector is also chic. 

Cozy into heated/cooled front seats and grip the heated steering wheel.  Infotainment routes through an intuitive touchscreen with redundant controls below.  Delicate chrome volume and tuning knobs delight.  Access screens to 24-way power adjust the front seats, get a deep muscle massage, plot directions, or cease the annoying auto stop/start system.  Revel audio drenches any mood in music.

Beyond all this, drivers have a load of technology at their disposal.  Devices connect via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Apple CarPlay, but that’s just a start.  The widescreen head-up display keeps eyes directed forward, but when they glance down, they see a flatscreen instrument display.  Keeping this fashion wagon flying straight is a full suite of safety gear:  Adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, forward collision warning with auto brake, blind spot assist, and rear cross path detection.  With cruise engaged, the vehicle centers itself in lanes, even around curves.
Out on the road, the most potent engine is a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivering 295 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque.  That may not seem like monstrous amounts of power, but it’s delivered to the ground through an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system.  It’s not a big vehicle, so that’s plenty whether slipping down city streets or hustling the left lane on the Interstate.  Fuel economy is rated 21/28-MPG city/highway.  Something north of 30-MPG would be appreciated.
There’s a knob in the console that makes driving the Corsair even better.  The Drive Mode selector adjusts the steering weight, suspension firmness, and throttle responsiveness from the efficient “Conserve” mode to “Normal” comfort mode, and “Excite” sport mode.  There are also modes for slippery conditions and deep snow.  Excite is fun for twisty two-lanes, but I especially like Normal because it gives the suspension a slight float for that traditional Lincoln ride.
Crossovers like the Corsair are making Lincoln cool again, taking us back to the days when Kennedy Continentals were the epitome of crisp elegant luxury.  Maybe Matthew McConaughey’s soulful commercials resonate or perhaps Lincoln is actually building cars younger drivers appreciate.  If this is Lincoln’s moment, let’s hope the Corsair represents its future. 

If there’s a downside to the Corsair, it’s price.  Base models start at a reasonable $35,945, but rose to $56,968 for our polished ride.  Key rivals include the Cadillac XT4, Mercedes GLB, Lexus NX, and Acura RDX.

— Casey Williams (MyCarData)