By on April 17, 2019

While Lincoln’s compact MKC crossover sold reliably following its mid-2014 introduction, the still-vulnerable brand couldn’t let it grow stale in a hotly competitive segment. Thanks to shrinking sedan sales, Lincoln took a sales hit in 2018 as it awaited salvation in the form of the midsize, rear-drive Aviator — a vehicle designed to add heavily to the profits generated by the top-flight Navigator.

In a market like this, utility vehicles need to pull more than just their own weight. With that in mind, after making the decision to kill off the confusing MK(?) naming strategy, Lincoln set about turning the MKC into a stronger, more compelling entry in the compact premium class.

Enter the Corsair.

We’ve already delved into details about the 2020 Corsair via VIN documents, but at least now we know what it looks like. Lincoln clearly blew some of the styling dust off the Aviator, allowing it to settle on the Corsair. Despite being front-drive biased, versus the Aviator’s rear-drive layout, the Corsair crams itself into the same mold.

Its lines lean strongly towards elegant, or at least “refined,” with a flat beltline and a high, straight character line cutting just below it. The roofline tapers towards the rear, giving the vehicle the shape of an onrushing ocean liner (or, um, a Range Rover), which in either case spells “luxury.” Lincoln designers claim their muse for the Corsair was a statuesque feminine statue, hence the contours seen along the vehicle’s flanks.

Lincoln design director David Woodhouse makes much mention of human hands delicately sculpting the Corsair’s “s-curves,” which brings to mind that scene from Ghost.

“It is virtually sculpture in motion, a vehicle definitely meant to seduce,” he said in a statement.

Again, that scene from Ghost.

Full-width taillights are slim, intersected with a thin chrome strip, while the grille and headlamps do their best to emulate the Corsair’s larger sibling. Naturally, there’s a floating roof. The Corsair, like its predecessor, doesn’t have an infinite amount of width or length to work with; anything that enhances those dimensions are A-OK in Lincoln’s books.

With the Corsair, Lincoln intends to take on its uber-refined German rivals without alienating its customer base.

Oddly, Lincoln made no mention of the anticipated plug-in hybrid variant in its press materials. Maybe Lincoln wants to play it up seperately, or perhaps the electrified powertrain isn’t on track for a concurrent launch; either way, Ford Motor Company indicates in VIN decoder filings that the Corsair will get a PHEV variant that makes use of Ford’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Spy photos have revealed its presence, as well.

The engines Lincoln is willing to talk about will seem very familiar, as they made up the MKC’s powertrain list. Entry-level propulsion comes by way of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, targeted for 250 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, with a turbo 2.3-liter (approximately 280 hp, 310 lb-ft) serving as an upgrade. Both finessed engines ditch their six-speed automatics in favor of an eight-speed unit.

All-wheel drive is available with either engine, with five drive modes — Normal, Excite, Slippery, Deep Conditions, and Conserve — to choose from. Lincoln makes a point of talking about cabin comfort, and especially cabin isolation. Road, engine, and wind noise is said to be diminished (a double firewall helps in this pursuit), while a rear integral bush suspension (a first for Lincoln) cushions road impacts that might otherwise have jostled passengers.


Big changes are afoot in the Corsair’s interior. Unlike the MKC, the center stack is less imposing, and is effectively split by a dash that emphasizes continuous horizontal lines. Frankly, it looks German. The touchscreen (an 8-inch unit is available) follows the “tablet stuck in dashtop” trend adopted by so many other automakers, while the lower center stack floats above the console. Shifting gears is still a push-button affair, though the buttons have migrated from the upper left side of the center stack to the center, where they now rest in a horizontal layout.

In terms of tech, the Corsair adopts features readied for the Aviator, such as the “Phone As a Kay” tech that allows drivers to unlock and start the vehicle without the presence of a key or a fob. Thank the bright minds behind the Lincoln Way app for that bit of convenience, assuming you view it that way. In case you’re wondering, owners of phones with dead batteries can still commandeer their own vehicle via the external keypad and interior touchscreen. This same feature allows a driver to personalize 80 functions to his or her preference, leaving nothing in need of manual adjustment after entering the vehicle.


Other boastworthy features include a slew of symphonic warning chimes and indications recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, SYNC 3 with AppLink, standard wi-fi, a rear seat capable of sliding fore and aft by up to six inches, and the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 suits of safety features. This standard bit of kit includes pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, a lane-keeping system, rear backup camera, and auto high-beam lighting.

There’s an available upgrade that adds adaptive cruise with traffic jam assist, rear brake assist, evasive steer assist, and Ford’s Active Park Assist Plus, which takes the worry out of squeezing into those tight spots. A head-up display and 24-way Perfect Position seats are also on the options list.

Those looking to adapt the cabin to their own aesthetic tastes have three new choices for ambiance: Beyond Blue (high-contrast blue and white), Cashew (tan and black), and Medium Slate (light grey and ebony). The Reserve Appearance Package, a no doubt pricey option Lincoln hopes you choose, lends the Corsair a unique grille, rockers, and wheels. That’s the green model you see above, by the way.

Pricing remains a mystery, but we’ll know what all of this added panache adds to the sticker once the Corsair’s fall 2019 on-sale date draws closer.

[Images: Lincoln Motor Company]

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54 Comments on “Baby Aviator: 2020 Lincoln Corsair Dials up the Panache...”

  • avatar

    Not quite sure on that interior. I don’t think it does the “retro future” thing as well as its larger siblings, and the “floating” HVAC controls just seem awkward. At the very least, it doesn’t look like an Escape++ anymore. Exterior is quite nice, and about a BILLION times better looking than the fuggo XT4.

    • 0 avatar

      A little too much gloss black, IMHO. Seems like that center pod could be tailored around the controls a little better. But a small complaint on an otherwise excellent effort.

  • avatar

    I think Lincoln is knocking it out of the park with styling now. So much better than Cadi and at least as good as the Germans.

  • avatar

    Wow, Lincoln is really nailing it lately. Is the Corsair Q5 sized?

  • avatar

    Man, Lincoln needs to get the Nautilus on code ASAP. At least on the interior. This thing looks amazing.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed that this looks very nice. Great proportions for a small CUV, I especially like the clamshell hatch that wraps around to the flanks and the front end treatment.

      That being said, the styling talk by Lincoln folks is a little whacky. Possibly true, but laying it on a little thick with the sculpture in motion, sculpture of female, inspired by ocean liner stuff. Just keep throwing McConaughey in these things and hopefully they move. Brand recognition is definitely Lincoln’s primary weaknesses now.

      Say what you want about those ads, they are probably some of the more memorable car ads I can think of in recent memory and very nicely portray the vehicles. I was no advertising major in college but that seems like the primary purpose of most advertising.

      I think the new naming scheme will also help alot. Now, can Lincoln stick with these names longer than a single generation? One of challenges of American automakers, the fickle way they abandon brands and name recognition.

  • avatar

    These new Lincolns are all beautiful

  • avatar

    I just have two questions. Number one why couldn’t they give the same interior to the Nautilus. And number two why couldn’t they just call this the Mariner?

  • avatar

    Good for Lincoln. Killing it while GGM’s Caddy keeps missing the point. aRE THEY EVEN PAYING ATTENTION???

    1- Lincoln has better styling and changes it up from time to time. Caddy wont let go of Art&Science design and now has progressed to smoothed-droopy-more aero angry appliance styling.

    2- Lincoln is adaptive. They saw the MKC, MKX naming as just stupid and changed. They put real names on their cars now. Not Caddy. They will not give up the alphabet soup CTS, 5, XT CTX and will double down with that newton meter hyper silliness (XT5 400 eg)

    3- Lincoln puts their full safety suite is Standard. GGM Caddy POS puts this behind a wall of a higher level of trim. SHAME. Toyota puts their full safety suite as std on all cars. Heck, my 1 step above base 2018 Subaru has the full set with rear pedestrian detection and it works with zero false alarms.

    QED = GGM sucks deeply and badly.

  • avatar

    Lincoln sure is blowing right by Cadillac and this latest CUV with a proper real name furthers the case. Where the XT4 looks like a shrunken XT5 which basically looks very similar to a 6 year old SRX this new Lincoln looks more modern upscale. And GM’s weak 237 HP 2.0 will be no match for either of these 250-280 HP EB engines. Even the interiors are nicer with better interior color selections and richer looking materials and surfaces.

  • avatar

    I find the styling generally alright, definitely more distinctive than the MKC.

    But the chrome trim strip at the back looks like a cheap afterthought, and the floating button panel (like a ’94 XJ6) is no bueno either.

  • avatar

    I really like this.

  • avatar

    Looks terrific.

    We can criticize Ford for getting rid of sedans, but if this is the kind of “white space vehicle” they’re talking about, then they’re on the right track.

    And I’d say they’ll eat the XT4’s lunch with this, but I said the Navigator would do the same to the Escalade when it came out, and it turns out the Caddy had its’ best year ever. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it’s because the Escalade is the last of the old-timey Cadillacs and along with the Suburban still have the reputation of a real workhorse. The one vehicle in Cadillac’s stable they haven’t completely screwed-up

  • avatar

    How much risk would this be to own outside of warranty do you think?

  • avatar

    absent a proper RWD sedan…

    this SUV would do for me. i have no complaints on the styling at all. haven’t been a big fan of their pinwheel wheels but these work well enough for me. finally they have produced a vehicle where the front and rear don’t seem like they are from two different vehicles.

    lincoln’s timing of finally getting their stuff together is perfect as i enter my 40s…

  • avatar

    Interior design – Fellas, the tacked on screen look needs to die. Now. It looks like a cheap afterthought instead of thoughtfully integrated. You blew an opportunity to stand out and be more elegant.

    In this picture, the center stack looks fragile and cheap. It looks like a step up from the current MKC center stack, but that’s like calling it the tallest building in Cedar Rapids.

    No news on the stereo or seating options so I’ll withhold judgement until we see what they offer. The rest of what we can see looks good.

    Grade: B-

    Exterior design – This is a 9/10. It’s the ONLY small SUV with design presence. Great job.

    Now cut it out with the idiotic quotes from the designer. Designers should not be allowed to speak if they sound like cliche fools.

    “It is virtually sculpture in motion, a vehicle definitely meant to seduce,”
    No it isn’t and no it doesn’t and you’re a douche nozzle for attempting to present this as the next David or Picasso’s Guitar. It’s a good looking car. Now STFU and help the stooges in interior design get up to speed. They’re making you look bad. Idiot.

    Grade: A

    • 0 avatar

      What should they do with the screen? Raise the whole height of the dash? Blah. Put it down by the shift lever and way out of your line of sight of the road? Errrrrr…. Make a 20″ wide HUD? God bless you if you get a rock chip. This isn’t the most elegant solution but in the context of safety it’s the most rational one.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree. The placement of this screen and the fact that it sticks up from the dash is similar to our B250. I’ve never liked the look of the screen not being integrated into the dash, but I have to admit that it’s very convenient to be able to see the screen without taking your eyes off the road.

      • 0 avatar

        The current gen Lexus GS350 integrated the screen, made it high enough to easily see, and made the rest of the interior look right.

        The Lexus infotainment system sucks, but they got screen placement right.

      • 0 avatar

        As much as people here deride those screen placements, non-car people seem to love them. That was one of the first things my friend noticed when she got into a 2018 Accord. She thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. After owning hers for a while now, she still likes it. Many of the friends/family who were checking out the car when she first bought it really liked it, too.

        I agree, it does make them convenient to see and use. I’m kinda on the fence about it being aesthetically pleasing, but I dont hate it with a passion like so many people here do.

        • 0 avatar

          Does anyone have billable time estimates for replacing one of these (generally speaking re: “tacked-on tablets)?

          My hope would be the design makes it faster than having something more integrated… and if these are essentially cheap-as-hell screens, perhaps that’s not a bad thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I disagree with only the Corsair having design presence – I think the CR-V, Tiguan and Q5 do too….

      • 0 avatar

        The Tiguan doesn’t have presence but it is handsome. Not so for the Q5 – it has a ‘waviness’ going on. The Tiguan looks broad shouldered and that squared off look works on it.

        CR-V? Too frumpy.

      • 0 avatar

        CR-V is distinctive, yes.
        Tiguan is also distinctive, but has an awkward lower front lip that makes it look out of proportion
        Q5? Well, Q5 is the most anodyne vehicle in Audi’s fleet – and their attempt to inject some flair (the wavy side crease) makes it look like they’re trying too hard. It’s just bland. Good car, but bland.
        New Audi Q3 adds some needed flash – but it looks like it’s trying to be flashy.

        The new Corsair and Aviator: spot on perfect from what I’ve seen in the press materials. Classy and distinctive. The front end is a bit bland, but Lincoln’s blandness seems to work a lot better than Audi’s blandness.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’m impressed. I see hints of Macan in rear 3/4 view. As long as this new focus/escape platform has more leg room , this should do well .
    Though, the only Ford product i’m interested in right now is a 4door Mustang.
    In regards to 2nd owner buys, I think Lincoln depreciates fastest among any luxury marque.One can buy a CPO MKX in the mid 20s with plenty of warranty left.

  • avatar

    So Lincoln is a one trick pony then? Cannot design anything other than cheap, Chinese looking Land Rover rip offs with an ugly front grille that looks like a bottom feeding fish?

    It’s not any better than the current MKEscape but now we have the added frustration of a knock off tablet glued to the dash and an overall poorly designed interior.

    Hey but at least we have door chimes that were made with instruments. Thats how you know they’re serious….fancy door chimes.

  • avatar

    I dig this.

    Lincoln is doing it right, IMHO. They know what they are, they’re not trying to be a german sports sedan, the cars have real presence inside and out, in a good way, which to me is a requirement for a true “luxury” car.

    The Navigator is solid, but not my favorite, but this new Aviator and Corsair are really hitting it for me. Smooth quiet powerful rides, with beautiful interiors, and exteriors that will turn heads.

    Absolutely hitting on what American luxury is.

  • avatar

    Was just checking out the current MKC leases for the hell of it… 7500 mi/year is no bueno Ford. I think I spend those miles just going to work.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey, it’s a nice option to have for city buyers. My last 10k/yr lease got turned in with plenty of extra headroom. And I’m sure dealers love having nice <30k cars to sell certified pre-owned.

  • avatar

    The new Lincolns look very nice, the new design language speaks to me (and apparently to a lot of you here) and I was actually excited to check out the new Nav and Nautilus during our car shopping.

    But you know how some people look better in pictures than in real life? I think these cars are like that to me. Maybe it’s the sky high expectations for Lincoln’s recent revival or whatnot. I imagine the sheen of “premium-ness” was a bit over-exaggerated by good camera filters. People speak as if they’re equivalent to Range Rovers but they’re still a few good steps away from that.

  • avatar

    By all reviews so far, it looks like FoMoCo has another winner on its hands. Its too bad neither GM or Fiat can even begin to compete with FoMoCo right now. By the time any of the others field an actual competing vehicle, FoMoCo will again be leading the pack. Business as usual for the blue oval.

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