There is something to be said about a luxury SUV that is not trying to impress everyone at the expense of its intrinsic nature. As of late, automakers have put a significant degree of effort into making luxury SUVs sportier in the name of appealing to a wide demographic. Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, and Audi are among the trendsetters of this recent phenomenon. As cool as they may be, a luxury SUV’s main objectives are relaxation, comfort, and luxury, not breaking records at the Nürburgring. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a generous amount of horsepower.)
And then we have the Lincoln Corsair. This compact SUV prioritizes luxury over sportiness and does so with grace.
A 2021 Lincoln Corsair 2.3T AWD Reserve in Flight Blue landed in our short-term test fleet, and we did a deep dive into some of the tech features. The smallest offering in Lincoln’s lineup motivated us to take a spur-of-the-moment drive to the friendly beach town of Coronado Island in San Diego. Along the way, we learned that the Lincoln Corsair has a terrific adaptive cruise control system, which allowed us to relax through long stretches on the highway.
The Little Joys in Life
Walk up to the Corsair with the key fob on you and the little Lincoln will courteously turn on its exterior lights. The proximity key allows you to unlock the vehicle by grabbing any of the door handles, a welcome convenience. Once you find a comfortable seating position and fire up the engine, a chime recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra reminds you to buckle up. The Corsair’s alert system has three levels of information chimes: non-critical, soft-warning, and hard-warning. It provides distinctive musical alerts for approximately 25 vehicle features.
Knowing we’d have about a two-hour drive, we wanted to pamper ourselves to the fullest extent. Before jetting off to the beach, we activated the driver’s seat massager and set it to “full recovery” with high intensity. You have a choice of five massage styles; our other favorite was “relax recovery.” We added in some ventilation and felt like we were living large.
Although we ultimately managed to establish a connection, we discovered Android Auto was often finicky in the Corsair—an issue that may have been caused by a worn USB cable. The default tone settings on the 14-speaker Revel audio system were discordant, so we adjusted the levels for a euphonious listening experience. Your author prefers less treble and midrange and a dash or two of bass. Think of it as the audio equivalent of a deliciously balanced cocktail.
Out of curiosity, we pressed the push-to-talk button under our left thumb on the steering wheel. The prompt activated Google Assistant, voiced by Kiki Baessell. We asked random questions, to which we got some interesting answers. Our favorite was when we asked, “What is on your mind?” Google Assistant responded with, “I was just thinking about how nice it can be to unplug. Sometimes it’s better to connect with people rather than Wi-Fi.”
The Lincoln’s adaptive cruise control proved most useful on freeways where traffic was flowing at a constant speed, although it works surprisingly well in the city and suburban driving, too. Once you become familiar with the system, you’ll discover using it is straightforward. Normal, Adaptive, and Intelligent are the three cruise control choices. For this drive, we settled on Adaptive, which allows you to maintain a speed that’s a certain number of mph above or below the limit. Adaptive cruise control features traffic jam assist, including stop-and-go, as well as speed limit recognition and lane centering. It allows you to set your speed and following distance, and then brakes and accelerates the Corsair in accordance with the flow of traffic.
We liked how seamless it is to activate the cruise control system via the steering-wheel buttons. Lincoln thought of a clever way to hide the cruise control adjustment buttons, which only illuminate when you press the main control button. We set the desired speed, following distance, and activated the steering assist.
Generally speaking, adaptive cruise control slows down the Corsair when it detects another vehicle close in front of you and returns to the set speed when the path ahead is clear. The responsiveness of the acceleration and braking in heavy traffic is very impressive, and the steering assist does an excellent job of keeping the Corsair centered within its lane. If the vehicle comes to a complete stop, the system shuts off, and you need to accelerate to reactivate it. A screen on the right side of the digital instrument cluster displays your speed and indicates whether cruise control is active or not.
In sum, Lincoln’s cruise control system is shockingly good. As effective as adaptive cruise control is, though, you are still responsible for driving. That means keeping your hands on the wheel at all times and anticipating sudden stops that will require you to step on the brake pedal.
Luxury, Comfort, and More
The Corsair cabin boasts high-quality leather, a floating center console, 24-way power-adjustable front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a panoramic sunroof, and more. The interior has a clutter-free design and a clean layout, and the two-tone color scheme and wood trim across the dashboard are nice touches.
Some of the neat details include a “piano key” push-button gear selector, physical knobs for volume and tuning, door-mounted seat controls, and the aforementioned push-to-talk button on the steering wheel. Lincoln has a few hidden tricks within the center stack. If you press down on the menu button, it brings up a climate control menu on the touchscreen. Another button with a small square gives you the option to switch the infotainment display to a minimalist “calm screen” or completely turn it off. Above the gear selector is a button with a car icon that takes you to the driver assistance settings.
True to Its Name
Our test vehicle came priced at $57,680 with options, including 24-way adjustable seats, technology package, and adaptive suspension. For as low-key as the Corsair 2.3T AWD Reserve looks, it packs quite a punch. Beneath the hood, a turbocharged 2.3-liter I-4 develops 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, sending it to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Lincoln Corsair Reserve is a baby Navigator that spoils you with comfort and luxury on a smaller scale. On the outside, its restrained styling downplays the luxuries afforded by the well-designed interior. The Corsair Reserve rides smoothly and is sneakily quick. It certainly lives up to the Lincoln name.
|2021 Lincoln Corsair (2.3T AWD)|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.3L/295-hp/310-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,850 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||180.6 x 76.2 x 64.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.5 sec (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||21/28/24 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||160/120 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.82 lb/mile|