Baby Aviator: 2020 Lincoln Corsair Dials up the Panache

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
baby aviator 2020 lincoln corsair dials up the panache

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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  • Onyxtape Onyxtape on Apr 17, 2019

    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.

  • 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.

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.