2021 Lincoln Corsair AWD Reserve Review

Unique American luxury in a convincing package


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Unique American luxury inside, refined ride and comfort level, head-turning exterior, solid performance numbers.
Negatives: Driving experience is a bit numb, tech is somewhat pretentious and unnecessary, price climbs with options.
Bottom Line: The Corsair is a proper replacement for the MKC with a special, luxurious interior and improved styling outside. It's too bad the driving experience could use an injection of fun. The Corsair is a marked improvement over its predecessor but still has some hot competition in the segment.
The Lincoln Corsair replaced the oddly-named and forgettable MKC compact luxury crossover, and it gets upgraded in just about every way. Based on the Ford Escape, it looks and feels nothing like its more affordable brother. Both the exterior and interior are far more refined than the MKC's, and equipment and materials get upgraded, too. We drove the near-top trim Reserve with the more potent 2.3-liter turbocharged engine in AWD guise. Read our full impressions below.
 

Driving Experience

7.7

 

For those who want power and easy driving manners but don't especially care for a connected, sporty experience, the Corsair does rather well and stays true to the Lincoln flavor. There are more fun luxury crossovers to drive like the Acura RDX, the Volvo XC60, and the Audi Q5.

Ride Quality: The Corsair is wonderful over surfaces with a smooth ride that's sure to please.

Acceleration: The 2.3-liter turbo four is spritely with a 0-60 sprint of six seconds. The less powerful 2.0-liter turbo is almost as quick at 6.1 seconds.

Braking: Brake progression is linear and stopping distances are good for the segment.

Steering: The steering in the Corsair lacks feedback, but it does manage to do well in terms of precision and on-centeredness.

Handling: The body roll is just about right for a vehicle in this class. There's just enough of it to know what the vehicle is doing but not so much that it feels unwieldy in the turns.

Technology

8

 

Lincoln manages to pave its own tech path, apart from the look of the Sync3 system in the Escape, even though it operates the same software. There's also a great, optional digital gauge cluster. We just think some of the drive mode names are a bit kitschy for our tastes. The Corsair also gets an optional phone-as-a-key feature with the accompanying Lincoln Way smartphone app.

Infotainment System: The 8-inch screen might not be very big, but it is vivid and easy to operate. The crisp font makes it especially legible and pleasant to look at. Overall graphics are a step up from the version in the Ford Escape.

Controls: We're not fans of the toggle switch gearshift buttons that are hard to operate quickly and without looking. We also don't like the twin joysticks on the steering wheel hub, which seem unnecessary and could be replaced by simpler switches or buttons.

Styling

8.6

 

The Corsair does a fine job of exuding American luxury without looking cheap and overwrought. The styling has evolved nicely from the previous generation, and it could even pass for an American Jaguar crossover in terms of sophistication and sleekness. The interior color is unique but could be polarizing for some.

Front: The large, notched black mesh grille with the Lincoln pattern might seem very Jaguar-ish, but it works. Too bad the headlights aren't as well-shaped as the beautiful taillights.

Rear: The slim LED taillights wouldn't look out of of place on an Aston Martin. The ovular exhaust ports and rear valence also look great.

Profile: The side view is enhanced by the crease line that connects the headlights, door trim, and the taillights. The floating roof is better than most versions we've seen, and the big turbine wheels add to the Corsair's refined look.

Cabin: Although there's a bit too much piano black trim for our liking, the luxurious materials, unique blue leather, and the multi-layered dash look truly special.

Comfort

8.6

 

The 24-way adjustability of the Perfect Position seats (with massage function) is impressive, and there's enough room in here for four adults to sit in comfort for longer trips. It's also whisper quiet thanks to extensive sound deadening.

Front Seats: Supple leather, near-infinite adjustability, and the industry-unique split thigh bolsters make front seat occupancy a thing of pleasure.

Rear Seats: There's 38.6 inches of rear legroom, a tad more than the Acura RDX and two inches more than the Audi Q3 and the BMW X3.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Robust sound deadening, including the windows and the firewall between the engine and the cabin contribute to a nicely hushed interior even at highway speeds. Build quality also contributes to the absence of creaks or rattles inside.

Visibility: Visibility all around is quite good, and the seating position aids that, as well.

Climate: Airflow, temperature responsiveness, and the optional heated/ventilated seats all work very well to provide a comfy cabin.

Safety

8.8

 

The Corsair was tested for 2020 with the IIHS and remains the same for the 2021 model year. It was tested for 2021 by the NHTSA. It scored very high in tests, and it comes with a good set of standard safety features and great optional tech, as well.

IIHS Rating: For 2020, it earned the Top Safety Pick rating and scored "good" in all crash tests. Its only demerits were the headlights, which earned "acceptable" and "poor" depending on trim level.

NHTSA Rating: The Corsair earned five stars from the federal government with only one ding down to four stars in the rollover risk test.

Standard Tech: The Corsair comes with Lane Keeping Assist, a Pre-Collision Assist w/ Automatic Emergency Braking, and an SOS post-crash system.

Optional Tech: Our tester was outfitted with the $4,200 Elements package that includes the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus Package, a 360-degree camera, Active Park Assist Plus, and Adaptive Cruise Control w/ Traffic Jam Assist.

Storage/Cargo

8.3

 

The Corsair does a very good job with interior storage choices and fares well when it comes to rear cargo space. No one expects cavernous cargo space for a compact luxury crossover, but the Corsair should be accommodating for most smaller families.

Storage Space: The deep cubby under the center stack is great for keeping smaller items out of sight thanks to its hinged door. The armrest and door pockets are medium-sized.

Cargo Room: The Corsair has 27.6 cubes behind the second row and a practical 57.6 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. That's bigger than the BMW X3 and about the same as the Acura RDX. 27.6

Fuel Economy

7.8

 

The 2.3-liter's 24 mpg in combined driving jumps 4 miles over the 2019 MKC. That's good news, and the Corsair manages to eke out solid numbers in everyday driving, as long as you're not in Excite mode with a heavy foot.

Observed: We managed 22.3 mpg in combined driving, but we did drive it in Excite mode for about half the time.

Distance Driven: 77 miles.

Audio

8.9

 

The excellent 14-Speaker Revel premium audio system comes standard on the Reserve trim, and it sounds great. The adjustability of sound, clarity, and bass made it a pleasure to listen to.



Final Thoughts

The Corsair is finally the vehicle the MKC wanted to be with a better name, improved performance, and increased levels of refinement and technology. It's beautiful to look at, comfortable, and it's a competent driver, too. Lincoln might have an uphill battle in the segment, but it finally hits the right notes and looks just right, too.
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