2020 Lincoln Corsair SUV lands in New York with sharper styling, tech

This MKC-replacing crossover packs big style, tech and quietness in a compact package.

Against the backdrop of New York's eternal hustle, bustle and sirens, Lincoln president Joy Falotico, said at a preview event that the 2020 Lincoln Corsair is intended to offer "a moment of quiet in the chaos of everyday life." The Corsair, which replaces the MKC as the marque's entry-level crossover SUV, makes its public debut at Wednesday's 2019 New York Auto Show.

Corsair chief engineer John Jraiche said the new Corsair is intended to compete with models like the Cadillac XT4 and Lexus NX. At 180.6 inches in length, it's somewhere between the BMW X1 and X3 dimensionally, and about an inch longer than the outgoing MKC.

The Corsair will be Lincoln's entry-level crossover.

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The Corsair's design follows cues set out by other recent Lincoln crossovers such as the Nautilus and Aviator, with Lincoln's usual grille shape on the nose, swept-back headlights on the fenders, and what designer David Woodhouse calls "S-curve" surfacing on the body sides, hood and liftgate. There are painted black pillars to simulate the cliched floating-roof effect. A large spoiler tops the angled D-pillar, and as on other Lincolns, a full-width LED taillight strip stretches across the liftgate. The car's look is meant to embody a "Quiet Flight" mantra, Woodhouse said. It's a stylish car, if not quite as immediately attractive as the Aviator.

"We wanted to create a dramatic, youthful Lincoln, but with terrific harmony," Woodhouse said of the design, describing the Corsair as "the most dramatic expression of Quiet Flight."

Lincoln's design team did a great job with the car's cabin, even if I'm not sold on the '70s-are-back blue-green leather option, called Beyond Blue, shown in one of the two Corsairs at the company's preview event. However, with abundant soft leather and wood trim, the cabin feels suitably luxurious.

The Corsair has one of the better-trimmed cabins among its competitive set.

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An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system sits atop the dashboard, below which are found Lincoln's "Piano Key" transmission shift buttons. The center stack is cantilevered outward at an angle, bringing important buttons, including the climate controls, closer to the driver and passenger while allowing for access beneath to a large storage cubby. The "push-to-talk" voice-recognition button is located at about 7 o'clock on the wheel, so it's easily reached by the driver's thumb. And the remainder of the steering wheel controls have little icons that change depending on their current function.

The second-row seats recline and can slide fore and aft by 6 inches so owners can prioritize cargo and passenger room, depending on need. In their full-back position, Corsair brand manager Gretchen Sauer said there's more rear-seat legroom than in a Lexus RX. A kick-to-open power liftgate is available. Cargo volume measures a respectable 27.6 cubic feet with the back seats up and 57.6 with them folded down.

Efforts to keep the cabin quiet include active noise cancellation and lots of sound deadening, including extra rubber seals around the doors. There's also a special composite shield in the engine bay that creates an air gap between the four-cylinder powertrains and the car's firewall, which apparently reduces the transmission of engine sound to the cabin.

The rear seat slides by 6 inches so you can prioritize passenger space or cargo room.

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Technologies available in the Corsair include a head-up display, an optional 12.3-inch color instrument cluster, massaging seats, 24-way front power seats, and Revel sound systems. Standard active-safety tech, bundled under the Co-Pilot 360 brand name, includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, auto high beams and lane-keeping. The optional Co-Pilot 360 Plus adds adaptive cruise with lane-centering steering, reverse automatic braking and an automatic parallel-parking feature that requires the driver only to hold a button -- not even operate the brake or throttle -- to get both in and out of parking spaces. Connectivity tech includes a standard Wi-Fi hotspot and optional wireless charging, as well as both USB Type A and Type C ports.

Another piece of technology on the Lincoln Corsair is called Phone as Key, which does exactly what you'd expect. Owners can "download" a virtual key onto their phone through the Lincoln Way app. With it configured, you can leave your traditional key fob at home and lock, unlock and drive the Corsair with only your phone. The system uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology. If, as they are wont to do, your phone crashes or its battery dies, Lincoln says you'll be able to unlock the car using the door-mounted keypad -- yes, Lincoln still has that feature because loyal customers value it.

As on other Lincoln crossovers, a skinny LED strip spans the entire liftgate.

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Base models come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated for 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, with either front- or all-wheel drive, while an optional 2.3-liter turbo mill delivers 280 hp and 310 lb-ft, and comes standard with AWD. Both engines mate to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Like many luxury vehicles, the Lincoln Corsair has many drive modes. Unlike other cars are the whimsical, descriptive names for those modes: Normal, Conserve, Excite, Slippery and Deep Conditions.

A plug-in hybrid powertrain is coming, with details to be announced this summer, Jraiche said.

The 2020 Lincoln Corsair will be built in Kentucky and goes on sale this fall. Its starting price has yet to be announced, but based on the outgoing MKC model, it's fair to assume a starting MSRP of around $35,000. The Corsair will also be built in China for that market, which is the first time that Lincoln will build an SUV in China.

Originally published April 17 at 12:01 a.m. ET.
Update, 12:31 p.m. ET: Adds new photos from the show floor.