Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.
Lincoln unveiled its all-new Corsair at the New York International Auto Show this week, replacing the MKC luxury compact SUV. But this is far more than a name change: The vehicle has been completely redesigned, using the same platform as the all-new 2020 Ford Escape. Lincoln dialed up the Corsair’s interior styling and added a bunch of standard advanced safety features, and the automaker says that a plug-in hybrid model will be coming, too.
The Corsair may share a platform with the more mainstream Ford Escape, but they look nothing alike. The differences start with Lincoln’s distinctive grille, then continue with sleeker yet more stately bodywork than that of the happy-faced new Escape.
The Corsair rides on a wheelbase that’s slightly longer than the outgoing MKC’s, and it’s a tad longer overall, yet it sits about an inch lower than before. Overall passenger volume has increased, and the Corsair benefits from greater luggage capacity, both behind the second row and when the rear seat is folded for maximum cargo space.
The Corsair showcases the brand’s latest upmarket styling cues, with plenty of chrome trim elements, a tabletlike infotainment screen jutting straight up from the dashboard, and a center stack that appears to be floating. The center stack looks cool, and its design helps create small-item storage capacity underneath. All Corsairs come with an 8-inch display screen plus the Sync 3 infotainment system that we’ve found to be intuitive and quick-responding in other Lincoln vehicles.
The Corsair also uses a push-button gear selector positioned at the top of the center stack, a setup that we’ve found to be unintuitive on other Lincolns.
The automaker says its engineers have worked hard at creating a quiet cabin for the Corsair; the results may be impressive because the outgoing MKC was already notably quiet in our testing. To give the Corsair’s interior a unique feel, the vehicle features six alert chimes—for example, to warn the driver about an unbuckled seat belt or an open fuel door—recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Owners will be able to use their smartphone as the Corsair’s key by using the Lincoln Way app; it will let them lock and unlock the doors, open the liftgate, and start the vehicle without using a key fob. Drivers can create multiple personal profiles that will make the Corsair automatically adjust features such as the seat position, mirrors, and pedal locations to each person’s preference.
What Drives It
As with the outgoing MKC, the Corsair will have two four-cylinder turbo engines, both with largely unchanged power levels, to choose from. The base 2.0-liter engine makes 250 hp, and the uplevel 2.3-liter produces 280 hp. An eight-speed automatic transmission replaces the previous six-speed. The 2.0-liter is available in both front- and all-wheel drive, and the 2.3-liter comes only with AWD.
It’s too early for fuel-economy numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency, but we can tell you that the Corsair’s gas tank can hold almost 1 gallon more than before. That should help address the short cruising range we found when we tested the MKC with the 2.3-liter engine, which wasn’t helped by that model’s less-than-stellar 19 mpg overall.
There are five drive modes—Normal, Excite, Slippery, Deep Conditions, and Conserve—to help tailor the way the Corsair performs according to road conditions and the driver’s mood.
A plug-in hybrid version will be offered as well, with details to come closer to the Corsair’s launch, according to Lincoln.
Safety and Driver Assist Systems
All Corsairs will come standard with the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced safety systems, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning, and lane keeping assist.
Automatic on/off high beams also come standard. Adaptive cruise control with lane centering and the ability to come to a full stop and restart the car again—for example, in stop-and-go traffic—is available as an option. The optional Active Park Assist Plus allows the driver to park in a parallel or perpendicular spot at the touch of a button—the system handles all steering, gear selector, accelerator, and brake pedal chores.
There’s no question that Lincoln got the luxury and prestige styling parts of the equation right with the new Corsair. The bigger questions are whether the new transmission will improve on the previously lackluster fuel economy and whether Lincoln found a way to create a more comfortable ride while also improving handling, both of which were weaknesses for the outgoing MKC. We know the Corsair has flair, but will it have the substance to better compete against the German and Japanese segment stalwarts? We’ll have answers to these questions and more after we buy a new Corsair of our own this fall and put it through our full battery of tests at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in Connecticut. Stay tuned.
More from Consumer Reports:
Top pick tires for 2016
Best used cars for $25,000 and less
7 best mattresses for couples
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2019, Consumer Reports, Inc.