By Eric Peters, NMA Member and Syndicated Columnist
Lincoln — Ford’s luxury line — used to specialize in luxury cars, just like just about every other luxury car brand — excepting luxury brands like Land Rover that have always specialized in luxury SUVs.
Lincoln stopped selling the last car it still made — the Continental — three years ago. It currently sells only SUVs — and crossovers, which are SUV-looking things but closer (mechanically) to being cars than the trucks most SUVs are closely related to.
The Lincoln Navigator, for instance, is closely related to the Ford Expedition and both share an underlying structure with the Ford-F-150 pick-up.
The Lincoln Corsair looks like a smaller-scale version of the Navigator — and the Nautilus and Aviator, which are in between the two — but it’s related to the Ford Escape, which is a compact-sized crossover that (like most crossovers) is similar to most cars in that it is based on a light-duty, front-wheel-drive layout, with AWD available.
So what makes the Corsair different from rival-brand luxury crossovers like the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5?
What It Is
The Corsair is Lincoln’s smallest crossover — as distinct from its largest SUV (the Navigator).
It is based on the Ford Escape, which is Ford’s smallest crossover — but it does not come standard with the 1.5 liter three cylinder engine that is standard int he Escape. It comes standard with the 2.0 liter four that’s optional in the Escape — as well as luxury features and other equipment that aren’t available in the Escape, including Bridge of Weir leather and a Smoked Truffle interior theme
Prices start at $40,125 for the Premiere trim and top out at $55,320 for the Gran Touring trim, which comes standard with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that can propel the vehicle for 28 miles on battery power alone, all-wheel-drive, an adaptive suspension and a panorama sunroof.
What’s New for 2024
A partial self-driving system called BlueCruise is available and all trims get a larger (digital) main instrument cluster and secondary touchscreens.
- Hybrid model’s “city” driving range is nearly 400 miles — and you don’t have to stop (and wait) for a recharge.
- Softer feeling (and riding) than rival crossovers that lean more toward sport rather than luxury.
- Standard 10 speaker audio system; a 14 speaker Revel system is available.
What’s Not So Good
- Hybrid’s “highway” mileage is only 355 miles.
- Some desirable options — such as rain sensing wipers, the hands-free rear liftgate and heated steering wheel — are only available “bundled” with expensive “collections” rather than as individual options.
Under The Hood
All Corsair trims except the Grand Touring come standard with the same 2.0 liter, turbocharged four cylinder engine that’s the Escape’s top-of-the-line engine. It is paired with an eight speed automatic (not a CVT) and makes 250 horsepower — which is a lot of power out of just 2.0 liters.
As recently as the 2020 model year, a Mustang GT’s 4.6 liter V8 only made 10 more horsepower (260) and it was a V8 more than twice the size of the Corsair’s four.
Ok, so 2020 was 23 years ago — so not very recently — but the point stands. Today’s small engines make big horsepower numbers — and they don’t have as big an appetite. The 2000 Mustang GT’s 260 horsepower 4.6 liter V8 rated 15 city, 23 highway. The ’24 Corsair’s 2.0 liter, 250 horsepower four rates 22 city, 30 highway.
To put a finer point on it, the Corsair goes almost as far in city driving on a gallon of gas as the ’00 GT Mustang did on the highway.
Usually, a vehicle gets its best mileage on the highway.
Excepting hybrids — which brings us to the Grand Touring iteration of the Corsair.
This one comes standard (and uniquely) with a larger, 2.5 liter four cylinder engine that isn’t turbocharged — teamed up with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. This combination makes more horsepower (266) than the ’00 GT’s 4.6 liter V8 and kicks up the city mileage to 34 (a 12 MPG uptick) and the highway mileage by 2 (to 32 MPG).
Interestingly, the hybrid’s highway range — 355 miles — is less than its city range — 377 miles — but this is usually true of hybrids generally, because the gas engine is typically running all the time to maintain highway speeds (as opposed to being off much of the time, as when the hybrid isn’t moving, as when it is stuck in city traffic) and because the gas engine in a hybrid has to work harder, because the hybrid is usually heavier (4,588 lbs. in this case vs. 3,983 lbs. for the non-0hybrid Corsair) and because the gas engine in a hybrid is usually less powerful.
On the other hand, a plug-in hybrid like this one can go about 30 miles without burning any gas at all — and if you can plug it in when you get where you’re going, you may be able to get back to where you started from without using any gas at all.
Or at least, not much.
There is also no more waiting with a hybrid than there is with any other car that isn’t an electric car.
When the Corsair runs out of range, you don’t have to stop. The gas side of the hybrid will keep you going — and pump some charge back into the battery, as you go — until you have time to stop for gas. And then you’ll only have to wait the 3-5 minutes it takes to pump 11 gallons into the thing, which will give you a full tank and 100 percent of your driving range (on electric and gas) back again.
You can stop — for a charge — whenever it’s convenient. Something no EV offers.
The hybrid isn’t going to save you money — the cost of the thing being such that it’s unlikely you’ll ever claw back sufficient savings in fuel to make up for it. But it will save you time — vs. an electric car.
And it may save you something else, if we get to the point that the government bans cars that aren’t at least partially electric. If that happens, you will still have a vehicle you’re allowed to drive.
On The Road
Most luxury brands are luxury-sport brands and specifically advertise this duality, which is a little weird when you think about it because the two attributes are at opposite ends of the spectrum. What you often end up with is a luxury vehicle that tries to be “sporty” — but isn’t, really.
Lincoln focuses on luxury — and style.
This isn’t to say the Corsair will chuck its wire-wheel covers into the bushes if you drive it faster than 25 MPH in a corner. It doesn’t have wire wheel covers, of course. It is to say that Lincoln’s object as a brand is to offer the yacht club elegance of movement the names of its vehicles are meant to suggest. The Corsair can hustle, if you need it to. In the corners, too. But that is not what this unit is all about. It is about relaxing — and enjoying the ride, a thing increasingly forgotten in our time.
You will find the ride is softer-than-most, as are the seats. Everything around you is meant to convey ease, including the push buttons for engaging Drive, Park and Reverse. These bring back a feature Lincoln offered back in the JFK era but work much better now than then because back then, electronic controls were primitive relative to today.
The idea looked great, back then. It functions better, now.
The hybrid is almost silent-running, like an EV — but without the worry. It is liberating to not be tethered to a cord. To be able to just drive wherever you need to go, however far away — without having to worry about whether you’ll make it to there.
This is extremely relaxing.
And that’s just another way of saying luxurious.
At The Curb
Though this is Lincoln’s smallest crossover, it feels (and looks) larger than Ford’s smallest crossover, probably because its length is accentuated by the different Lincoln bodywork.
Viewed from the side, the Corsair looks like it might have a third row — because it has more glass behind the second row. The Ford’s tapers into the small rear quarter glass that’s now as commonplace as the absence of an ashtray in new crossovers. The Lincoln’s continues upright almost to the liftgate, giving the impression of more than meets the eye. The front and rear ends of the Lincoln also project just a little bit farther from the axle centerlines. The result is about an inch of increased length (181.4 inches vs. 180.5) which may not sound like much, but makes all the difference in terms of what you think you’re seeing.
There are some other interesting differences, too.
The Corsair has 43.2 inches of driver and front seat passenger legroom — an inch more than in the Escape. But the Escape has more backseat legroom (40.7 inches vs. 38.6 in the Lincoln) as well as significantly more cargo room, both behind its second row and with its second row folded (37.5 cubic feet and 65.4 cubic feet, respectively, vs. 27.6 cubic feet and 57.6 cubic feet).
Also interestingly, the Corsair comes standard with a 3,000 lb. tow rating (vs. 2,000 lbs. for the Escape) so it can pull a small trailer while the Ford can’t.
These differences are manifestations of different priorities. The Escape is the more utilitarian of the two crossovers. It’s a great crossover for young families with small kids. The Corsair is for parents whose kids are off at college. Its Bridge of Weir leather seats and other surfaces — including its dual LCD touchscreens — are not for sticky fingers.
Because it is a Lincoln, the Corsair comes standard with amenities that aren’t even offered with the Ford — such as the already mentioned dual LCD touchscreen displays. There is also the standard 10 speaker audio system, which out-speakers the Escape’s standard six speaker stereo.
And you cannot get the Corsair’s available 14 speaker Revel audio system in the Escape.
However, you also cannot get several desirable options — in the Corsair — except as part of a “collection” of additional equipment, some of which you may not want and which require you to buy them all. For example, if you’d like to have a heated steering wheel and a wireless charging pad, you can’t just tick off those options, individually. They are part of the $3,595 “Collection II.”
Similarly, if you’d like to have the BlueCruise semi-self-driving feature, you must buy a subscription as well as the option.
This is not just a Lincoln thing, by the way. It is a common thing. It is one of the reasons why the average price paid for a new vehicle — not necessarily a luxury vehicle — is now close to $50,000.
Options add up.
Especially when you buy a dozen of them, bundled together.
The Bottom Line
Lincoln doesn’t sell luxury cars anymore. But it does sell crossovers that are still Lincolns.
Eric Peters lives in Virginia and enjoys driving cars and motorcycles. In the past, Eric worked as a car journalist for many prominent mainstream media outlets. Currently, he focuses his time writing auto history books, reviewing cars, and blogging about cars+ for his website EricPetersAutos.com.
Editor’s Note: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the National Motorists Association.