By Elayne Bendel
If you love Lincolns but can’t picture yourself behind the wheel of one of their current SUV family members, think again. The new Corsair may be just what you need for 21st century motoring. It’s the smallest of their offerings which include the flagship Navigator, popular Aviator, Nautilus and finally the Corsair.
On a recent visit to the Lincoln Experience Center at the Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach I was able to test drive the new Corsair to see what all the buzz is about. It’s a 2-row SUV that replaces the earlier MKC. In many ways I was surprised by what I learned, but in others just plain old pampered by traditional Lincoln luxury.
On a business trip some years back I was assigned a (non Lincoln) SUV by the rental company and was curious about its feel having never driven one. But on getting behind the wheel I realized the car was not a fit for me and sat so tall and uncomfortable that I exchanged it for a sedan.
Mind you, my 1964 Continental convertible at 216 inches long and over 5,000 pounds is not exactly a mini-car. But its controls work easily, seat height is nominal and it dives pretty much like any other regular car.
The muscular look of Lincoln’s SUV family can be intimidating but belies some of its secrets. After my previous but brief SUV experience I admit to being a bit nervous beforehand about driving the Corsair. I expected the same too-tall, bulky feel. But these concerns instantly melted away as soon as I slipped behind the wheel.
The gorgeous Beyond Blue interior of my Corsair test vehicle said Lincoln luxury immediately and the seat height and view out the windshield were just right. Not that the seats couldn’t have been customized easily with the door-mounted electronic controls. And this vehicle was equipped with a seat massage feature that certainly enhances the driving experience.
In actuality, the Corsair is an efficient 181 inches long, 74 inches wide and 64 inches high It’s the same length as my Nissan Altima, so no garage-fit issues there. Further, with its spacious luggage area coupled with fold-down rear seats, it has over 57 cubic feet of cargo space. If you are like me and haul a lot of stuff around like potting soil, lumber, groceries and recycling items you can have your space and Lincoln too, an improvement over many older Lincolns where the seats did not fold down.
The Corsair has three powerplant options—two 4-cylinder turbo engines and a plug-in hybrid. MPG ratings on the gas-only 2.0L and 2.3L turbos range from 21 city to 29 highway. The Grand Touring hybrid model makes about 40 MPG.
The test vehicle had a huge panoramic moon roof and the standard infotainment touch screen control system. The Corsair has no shortage of 21st century features including a 360-degree camera, multi-colored mood lighting, and customized climate control. it can even parallel park using its its self-parking feature.
It has a 10-speed automatic transmission and a horizontal gear selector in the instrument panel that looks much like a push button radio system. Pushing the drive button down got the Corsair moving forward and move it did! I was driving the gas-only version, but was a bit startled by its responsiveness from a standing start. We did not do any highway cruising but at low speeds the power seemed more than adequate and the ride was Lincoln silky.
The Revel sound system, as expected, was a full and rich experience and has several customizable modes.
The digital instrument panel displays also are customizable and on our test drive only basic data was shown. However, this vehicle had a head up display (HUD) where the posted speed limit, vehicle speed, outside temperature and time of the day were posted. One can also see when directional signals are flashing. HUDs have been available on certain cars for the past few years. But this was my first experience with this “gee whiz” feature outside of an MD-80 airliner, where the device that created it cost more than the whole Corsair.
Speaking of cost, the Corsair base model starts at just over $36,000 and a nicely equipped one runs in the mid $40Ks. The plug-in hybrid has a $10K price premium. While this is not inexpensive, when adjusted for inflation a well-equipped Corsair is actually less than my ’64 Continental was when new ($7,500 with a/c) at $5,400 in 1964 dollars vs. $45,000 now.
There is a reason SUVs are surging in sales nationwide. They can do anything a sedan can do and more and still feel and drive like a car. If you love Lincolns the Corsair is well worth a look.