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Jun 21, 2024

Corsair provides pillars of luxury with solid performance

The news for the 2023 Lincoln Corsair may only be for a slight refresh, but it involves some very notable upgrades like the new BlueCruise (hands-free highway driving) system, eliminating the larger 2.3-liter engine option, and an interior refresh featuring a larger infotainment screen with the latest version of Sync 4.

While the Lincoln Corsair may be a crossover based on the Ford Escape, the addition of safety, tech and cabin comforts ensure this luxury SUV offers the added refinement the Lincoln consumer expects.

I recently reviewed the 2023 Lincoln Corsair with all-wheel drive and the Reserve III trim. It is important to know that Lincoln offers both a gas-powered engine and a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. So, you can weigh your personal driving habits with what kind of performance you prefer and fuel savings you might enjoy.

Air purity

During the week of my testing the Lincoln Corsair, Chicago was experiencing some of the worst air quality in the world. Smoke and haze from Canadian wildfires had blanketed most of northern Illinois and unhealthy air was a real concern. Unless you were in a Corsair!

Corsair features a holistic air filtration and active air monitoring system called Auto Air Refresh. Using Aviator’s standard cabin particulate and odor filter, Auto Air Refresh helps clean the cabin air by filtering out particles caused by atmospheric dust, tobacco smoke, smog and some allergens, including pollen.

You can access the system in the center stack screen and view the particulate matter count inside the cabin. The vehicle will purge the air inside as needed and filter fresh air in.

Great looks

On the outside, the Lincoln Corsair exhibits most of the styling cues of its larger Nautilus SUV sibling, which is in my opinion one of the more attractive and distinctive exterior designs out there. The Corsair comes standard with 18-inch rims, but my tester with the Reserve upgrade package featured a really sharp 20-inch aluminum rim and plenty of rubber with the all-season tires.

Look for great accent cues like the chrome exhaust tips, jeweled LED headlamps, and roof rack side rails to add some nice touches of class to the Corsair. Up front, the large Lincoln-badged grille makes an immediate and bold statement, while not pushing a sporty look but more of a sophisticated feel.

Interior

The amazing impact of the Pristine White exterior hue is only upstaged by the elegance of the Eternal Red leather upholstery (one of two new upholstery shades). Refined aluminum accents are scattered among the cabin and add nice luxury touches. At this level of vehicle, more common interiors are the earth tones of tan, gray and black – so, this red is a real exciting addition.

With heated and vented surfaces, getting a perfect seat in the Corsair is easy. Add the 24-position power seat adjustments that remember the previous position each time you shut down the vehicle, and you have comfort on every trip.

The hardware changes for the Corsair’s center stack showcase a new 13.2-inch landscape-oriented touchscreen and eliminate physical buttons and knobs for the climate controls. It looks great and is intuitive to use.

The console below the touchscreen features buttons: PRND, a volume knob, and a couple of quick-access buttons. I’m not a fan of the decision to integrate the climate controls into the Sync 4 system at the bottom of the screen. It was not a quick, eyes-on-the-road experience adjusting and it felt at times like the whole process for the climate was cumbersome.

Perhaps the most significant change for the 2023 Corsair is the addition of Lincoln’s highway hands-free driving suite called BlueCruise. It is now offered on all of the Lincoln vehicles, and it delivers exactly what it promises, hands-free highway driving (though I never quite relax enough when I’m testing these features).

The Corsair cabin is roomy in both rows with plenty of headroom and legroom for even tall occupants. This Lincoln has 27.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear row, which makes it equal to most in the category.

Performance

With the elimination of the larger 2.3-liter powerplant, the lone gas engine for the Corsair is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers a reasonable 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque.

I found this engine, paired with an 8-speed transmission, to offer plenty of torque off the line with little turbo lag. It felt strong at high engine speeds and never made me feel I couldn’t jump right into traffic and get up to speed. The 2023 Corsair returns just 21 miles per gallon city, 29 highway, and 24 combined with all-wheel drive.

The Standard Corsair starts at $38,690, with AWD adding $2,300 to the price tag. Even at the Standard’s top-end $42,385, the Corsair is several thousand dollars cheaper than most AWD competitors. The Reserve starts at $43,075 and the Grand Touring begins at $53,885. This is an attractive small luxury crossover that delivers a cozy cabin with great tech features and a gentle ride.

John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing, and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations, and vehicles.

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