Looking like a slimmed-down Aviator, the Lincoln Corsair distills the luxury automaker’s new design language down to the compact-SUV class, where it’s one of few American nameplates to choose from. The Corsair shares a platform with the Ford Escape, but there are few clues to its blue-collar roots, and its road presence is undeniably upscale. Lincoln offers three different powertrains (including a plug-in hybrid), and buyers will be pleased by the available luxury features inside the Corsair’s cabin, although much of the good stuff requires shelling out for expensive packages. The Lincoln delivers a creamy ride, but it doesn’t offer the same well-balanced handling as rivals such as the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, or the Mercedes-Benz GLC-class. The Corsair takes the same path as the larger Aviator and Navigator SUV, prioritizing comfort and style over driving enjoyment, and for many buyers, we expect that’ll be quite enough.
What’s New for 2021?
The Corsair finally gains its Grand Touring plug-in-hybrid model for 2021. The powertrain consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and a standard all-wheel drive. Lincoln is also introducing two new appearance packages. The Monochromatic package adds 20-inch black wheels and body-color exterior trim while the Sport Appearance package adds 20-inch polished wheels, body-colored front, and rear bumpers, a black mesh grille, and an illuminated door-jamb scuff plates. A towing package is also available, and two new exterior colors (Asher Gray and Silver Radiance) have been added to the options sheet.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Two turbocharged four-cylinder engines from the MKC carry over. That means either a 250-hp 2.0-liter or 280-hp 2.3-liter four. Both engines come with an eight-speed automatic transmission. With the smaller engine, buyers can choose from either front- or all-wheel drive, but opting for the 2.3-liter brings all-wheel drive as standard. We tested both engines with all-wheel drive and found that their acceleration performance is almost identical; the smaller engine managed a 60-mph run in 6.1 seconds while the 2.3-liter did the deed in 6.0 seconds flat. Both are quicker than the old MKC, which delivered an adequate but unexciting 7.3-second 60-mph time. Key rivals such as the Q5 and the GLC300 are quicker and more satisfying to drive, though. The plug-in-hybrid model pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor, a CVT, and an all-wheel drive.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Choosing the more powerful of the two turbocharged engines doesn’t negatively impact fuel economy much. According to the EPA, the 2.3-liter model with all-wheel drive sees 1 less mpg on the highway than the all-wheel-drive 2.0-liter model. The Corsair’s most efficient non-hybrid model—the front-wheel-drive 2.0-liter—earns EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. We’ve tested both engines with all-wheel drive; the 2.0-liter managed 30 mpg in our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test while the 2.3-liter returned 29 mpg. Lincoln says the plug-in-hybrid model—which we have not yet tested—will provide up to 25 miles of all-electric driving range; EPA fuel economy estimates for that model are still pending.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The 2021 Corsair boasts a handsome cabin that’s similar to those in other SUV offerings from Lincoln, such as the Navigator, Nautilus, and Aviator. It’s upholstered in soft leather and offers plenty of features. Adjustable ambient lighting, 24-way power-adjustable seats, a head-up display, and an app that allows users to unlock, lock, and start the vehicle with their smartphone are all available—although ordering such items will add a princely sum to the bottom line. Surprisingly, Lincoln says a top-spec Black Label model of the Corsair is not in the cards. The Beyond Blue interior theme shown at Corsair’s debut at the New York auto show is available. It adds turquoise-colored leather to the dashboard, door panels, and seats. The Corsair’s cargo bay is generously sized. We managed to fit eight carry-on suitcases behind the rear seats, beating the X3 by one case. Lowering the rear seatbacks opens up enough room for 21 cases total.