Why the 2020 Lincoln Corsair Has a Real Chance to Succeed

Look deeper than its striking sheetmetal, and the Corsair has even more going for it.

The 2020 Lincoln Corsair is the marque's newest crossover and also its smallest, and one that will face exceedingly high expectations when it hits the market later this year. It's arguably Lincoln's most winsome SUV, with a distinct, elegant profile that helps set it apart from its stablemates. It will also be available with several features that should make it stand out in the crowded compact-crossover segment. At the 2019 New York Auto Show, we had a chance to talk to Lincoln execs and crawl around the Corsair, and we're not betting against its chances. Below is a potpourri of what we learned about the Corsair's most interesting features and the thinking behind its development.

Always fly quietly. Lincoln has been rolling out its Quiet Flight mantra for some time now, and really hammered home the philosophy with the launch of the Corsair. "This is a very different design language," said Lincoln design director David Woodhouse of what Quiet Flight means to the Lincoln design team. "Within Lincoln, we talk about beauty, gliding, human, and sanctuary. Beauty and gliding refer to the exterior."

It's decidedly American. Woodhouse also talked about the American-ness of the Corsair, which he says is expressed through the horizontality and linearity of its design. "It should be really planted and—like great American architecture and the American landscape—it should be all about the horizontal emphasis, and that's what you see here," Woodhouse said.

It's a deep-sider. "This is the deepest body side we've ever generated," Woodhouse said of the Corsair's sensuously S-curved sheetmetal stampings.

L I N C O L N. At the rear of the Corsair, the letters of the Lincoln name are widely spaced across the deck. But these aren't just pieces glued on haphazardly. The team took into account the curvature of the rear panel and adjusted the shapes of the letters so they would appear as linear as possible.

More America. Woodhouse also made a point to mention the Corsair's Cashew and Beyond Blue color schemes, which he also said were very American in their "exuberance," and make a statement that he says is distinctly American. "We're not shying from that," he said.

Rear slider, head accommodator. The Corsair's rear seats can optionally slide through six inches of travel, and despite its sloping roofline, six footers won't bump their noggins on the headliner. This is as roomy a second row as you're going to see in this segment.

Symphonic chimes. The Corsair features six different alert chimes that were created and recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. A clever, classy touch.

Tech backup. The Corsair's optional Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus system has one feature crossover buyers no doubt will like: reverse brake assist. If the system senses you're approaching an obstacle too fast when reversing, it will apply the brakes. The system also has adaptive cruise control with lane centering and stop-and-go functionality, an advanced active park assist that doesn't need driver input, and evasive steer assist that can help guide the car under aggressive-input, crash-avoidance scenarios.

No Black Label. Given its positioning as the entry-level model, Lincoln has decided not to offer a Black Label version of the Corsair—at least for now. If nothing else, that will help the optics when customers look at the price spread for the compact CUV. (Pricing hasn't been announced, but we expect the Corsair to start in the mid $30Ks. A Black Label version would have cost perhaps $15,000 to $20,000 more.)

Feel the power. "Other OEMs want you to hear it; we want you to feel it," said Corsair chief engineer John Jraiche of the Lincoln philosophy around how it tunes its powertrains, another manifestation of the marque's Quiet Flight philosophy. The Corsair is available with two turbocharged engines, a 2.0-liter four with an estimated 250 horses or a 2.3-liter four with around 310 horsepower, both mated to an eight speed automatic. An on-demand all-wheel-drive system is available for the 2.0-liter and standard with the 2.3-liter.

The rear suspension. Jraiche is particularly proud of the Corsair's new rear suspension, which he believes is the class of the Corsair's class. The Lincoln-first design is called a rear integral bush suspension, which he says lends the car a gliding feeling and reduces road harshness. It's essentially a three-link setup with toe, camber, and control arms. The front suspension uses struts.

Revel in it. The optional, 14-speaker Revel sound system was specifically tuned for the Corsair to deliver an optimum sound experience.

No key required. The Corsair has a phone-as-key feature that's activated through the Lincoln Way app. The phone can also store your preferences and set them up as you get into the vehicle. And of course you can remote start the Corsair, among other features.