HOLLYWOOD, California—Driving on the Hollywood Freeway can be a bilge-sucking experience on most days, but especially more so during rush hour. This is when the 101, as the freeway is also known, crawls along like a bright red lava flow of taillights. However, the massaging driver and passenger seats of the all-new Lincoln Corsair helped numb my bumper-to-bumper blues.
Frankly, my expectations were low when I volunteered to test drive the Corsair All-Wheel-Drive Reserve trim SUV. Our Automobile garage is normally filled with outstanding options like a Honda Type R or our Four Seasons Hyundai Veloster N. But friends were visiting from out of town, and I wanted to shuttle them around in something a bit more stylish, practical, and roomy.
The Reserve trim on the Corsair is a top-notch choice, and its standard panoramic vista roof is stunning: it extends across most of the roof to offer the next-best thing to a topless experience in a smallish SUV. Our four-door chariot was dipped in optional Red Carpet Metallic paint with a Sandstone/Moca leather cabin and wood flourishes. It made my guests feel pampered when I picked them up outside of Musso and Frank’s on Hollywood Boulevard.
Lincoln’s little luxury SUV replaces the MKC and is based on the Ford Escape. But instead of packing the standard 2.0-liter turbo four with 250 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque under the hood, the Corsair Reserve gets a 2.3-liter turbo inline-four that serves up 295 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The feisty I-4 really shines and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive.
Amusingly, Lincoln prefers to call Sport mode in the Corsair “Excite” mode, which looks and sounds silly, but it was my go-to mode all week. Combined with AWD and a sticky set of 20-inch Continental CrossContact LX Sport tires, it kept the comfy crossover smoothly planted in the turns, it kept the ride responsive and a tad engaging as promised. That said, I only managed to average about 16.8 mpg combined around town. Other modes include Conserve, Normal, Slippery, and Deep Conditions, all of which sound more like mental states than driving modes. But the naming conventions are different and mildly amusing.
Conserve mode should get you closer to the Corsair’s EPA rated 21/28 mpg in city/highway traffic; a full fuel tank will give you about 250 miles of range if you refrain from Excite, but the ride is likely to be a bore. Also, instead of normal buzzing alerts when you forget to buckle up or when you put the car in reverse, Detroit Symphony Orchestra chimes play to gently remind you to do so. Ditto for entering and leaving the crossover. The Corsair’s electric power-assist steering feels direct, fairly responsive, and the overall driving experience is on par with what you’d find in the BMW X3 or Volvo XC60. The interior looks proper and well-appointed with a leather wrapped steering wheel with a decent number of buttons to help keep your eyes on the road. As mentioned, there are heated and massaging seats up front with 24-way lumbar adjustment that makes them very relaxing. As for the cockpit ambience, the Corsair’s lighting selection is limited to a handful of shades; I found green to be the most soothing in traffic.
There’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen and a decent Revel 14-speaker stereo system for your favorite jams. The transmission buttons, instead of a normal shifter, are a bit of a pain, but I imagine you get used to them being tucked beneath the touchscreen if you drive a Lincoln every day. Ditto for the basic seating controls located on the upper door like you would find in most Mercedes-Benz vehicles. A wireless charging pad is located inside the center console and is easy to use, provided your phone is compatible; it slides in the holder sideways and keeps the phone out of sight while you drive, which is always a good thing.
In the second row, the rear seats are a little snug for passengers standing 6-feet or taller, but they are also heated. The seats split 60/40 and there is plenty of space for your cargo and even a spare-tire donut located under the floor.
The 2020 Lincoln Corsair AWD Reserve is an excellent choice for urban drivers; if that doesn’t describe you, a plug-in Grand Touring variant is coming this summer for thriftier pirates.
|2020 Lincoln Corsair AWD Reserve|
|ENGINE||2.3L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4, 295 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 310 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||21/28 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||180.6 x 76.2 x 64.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED||130 mph (est)|