Call it the Matthew McConaughey effect, or just a deep reflection on the brand’s rich heritage, but Lincoln is having a moment. As it featured the actor in commercials, it threw off the “MK-Whatever” naming silliness and focused on delivering lush American luxury, imagined for the next decade. What began with the Continental has migrated to the Navigator, mid-size Nautilus, and full-size Aviator crossovers. It flows here to the compact 2020 Corsair, which replaces the MKC.
Style and Ambience
There is a definitely a family resemblance across all models that begins with the large chrome grille, beefy contours, and narrow full-width taillamps. There’s a muscularity to its forms, elegance in how the Lincoln logo is molded into the grille, and sleekness to its Range Rover roofline. Our Reserve package’s black roof and mirror caps, 20-inch wheels, and Red Carpet metallic paint are especially fetching. From every angle, it looks expensively swift.
And, the upscale ambience continues inside where stitched dash coverings, aluminum trim, and chrome starter button surround could have come from a ’61 Continental. The “piano key” push button gear selector is also chic. Cozy into heated/cooled front seats and grip the heated steering wheel. Infotainment routes through an intuitive touchscreen with redundant controls below. Delicate chrome volume and tuning knobs delight. Access screens to 24-way power adjust the front seats, get a deep muscle massage, plot directions, or cease the annoying auto stop/start system. Revel audio drenches any mood in music.
Beyond all this, drivers have a load of technology at their disposal. Devices connect via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Apple CarPlay, but that’s just a start. The widescreen head-up display keeps eyes directed forward, but when they glance down, they see a flatscreen instrument display. Keeping this fashion wagon flying straight is a full suite of safety gear: Adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, forward collision warning with auto brake, blind spot assist, and rear cross path detection. With cruise engaged, the vehicle centers itself in lanes, even around curves.
Smooth Turbo Power
Out on the road, the most potent engine is a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivering 295 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. That may not seem like monstrous amounts of power, but it’s delivered to the ground through an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system. It’s not a big vehicle, so that’s plenty whether slipping down city streets or hustling the left lane on the Interstate. Fuel economy is rated 21/28-MPG city/highway. Something north of 30-MPG would be appreciated.
There’s a knob in the console that makes driving the Corsair even better. The Drive Mode selector adjusts the steering weight, suspension firmness, and throttle responsiveness from the efficient “Conserve” mode to “Normal” comfort mode, and “Excite” sport mode. There are also modes for slippery conditions and deep snow. Excite is fun for twisty two-lanes, but I especially like Normal because it gives the suspension a slight float for that traditional Lincoln ride.
Crossovers like the Corsair are making Lincoln cool again, taking us back to the days when Kennedy Continentals were the epitome of crisp elegant luxury. Maybe Matthew McConaughey’s soulful commercials resonate, or perhaps Lincoln is actually building cars younger drivers appreciate. If this is Lincoln’s moment, let’s hope the Corsair represents its future.
If there’s a downside to the Corsair, it’s price. Base models start at a reasonable $35,945, but rose to $56,968 for our polished ride. Key rivals include the Cadillac XT4, Mercedes GLB, Lexus NX, and Acura RDX.
2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Is The Affordable Crossover Alternative
Let’s assume you like all of the fancy little compact crossovers now flooding the market, but your bank account is not so flooded. Surely, there is a stylish little ripper, loaded with the latest luxury gear, built for you. Well, there might be, but you’ll have to consider an automaker many haven’t considered lately: Mitsubishi.
Exterior styling, especially in GT trim, certainly plays the part with a menacing chrome nose, full LED lighting, black roof rails, roof spoiler, and 18-inch wheels. Rear lights were updated with a new design that integrates white elements for a crisp appearance. It all looks a little future-tech from the front, but updates to a body shell that’s been around a few years, give it new visual life. It’s a sporty looking ride ready for fashion forward drivers.
And, those drivers will be greeted with a fully equipped cabin. Heated leather and suede seats, automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Mercedes-style gear selector, and deft use of piano black finishes give the interior an upscale feel. Seats and steering wheel are adjusted manually, but windshield wipers are rain-sensing. Devices connect through a large touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Safety is enhanced with forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, blind spot alert, and rear cross path detection.
GT editions trade the base 148 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for a larger 2.4-liter unit delivering 168 horsepower and 167 lb.-ft. of torque. In theory, that’s enough power to kick a crossover this size down the road, but the continuously variable transmission is less than enthusiastic, requiring a pretty firm stomp to wake it up. It’s all a little agrarian. Given the relatively compact size of the Outlander Sport and the size of its engine, one would expect slightly better than the delivered 23/28-MPG city/highway.
At least if you wake up and find inches of snow, you’ll have the confidence of electronic all-wheel-drive that can be left to its own decisions or locked in at the driver’s choice. And, the Outlander Sport handles pretty well too. Its short wheelbase with tight suspension makes for a fun drive, but the chassis isn’t quite as refined as recently introduced competitors. It’s a bit clunky over rough city streets, but provides a smooth ride on the highway.
As I write this story, I’m in possession of a $56,000 compact crossover from a popular luxury brand. I must say it is very nice, but that price puts it out of reach of most new car buyers. Is the Outlander Sport GT as refined as my little luxury crossover? Nope, but with all of the style and luxury it offers, it’s easy to forgive a little spit and polish. A base price of $22,595 rose to $28,920 fully stoked. Competitors include the Subaru Crosstrek, Honda HR-V, Nissan Rogue Sport, Chevy Trax, and Hyundai Kona.
2020 Lincoln Corsair
- 5 passengers, AWD Crossover
- Powertrain: 2.3L T4, 8-spd trans
- Output: 295 hp/310 lb.-ft.
- Suspension f/r: Elect Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 20”/20” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Style, Performance
- Fuel economy: 21/28-MPG city/hwy
- Assembly: Louisville, KY
- Base price/As-tested: $35,945/56,968
2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
- 5 passengers, 4WD Pickup
- Powertrain: 2.0L I4, CVT auto trans
- Output: 168 hp/167 lb.-ft.
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Style, Value
- Fuel economy: 23/28-MPG city/hwy
- Assembly: Kurashiki, Japan
- Base price/As-tested: $22,595/28,920