When I think about Lincoln, the only thing that comes to mind is a black airport limo. That’s it. There might’ve been a time where the Navigator would’ve crossed my mind, but even then, it’s faded into the abyss of my brain — and my memory isn’t great to begin with. But the 2023 Lincoln Corsair Reserve has changed all that.
The Corsair continues to be based off the ho-hum Ford Escape, but you’d never guess by the looks of it. My first impression left me surprised — finished in our tester’s Whisper Blue paint, a primer-style colour that reminds me of Porsche’s lovely Etna Blue, the Corsair looks premium and attractive from virtually any angle, although Lincoln hasn’t taken much risks with the overall styling.
Our tester was also fitted with the Jet Appearance Package, which blacks out the 20-inch wheels, front grille, mirror caps, and other various bits and bobs. I think the Corsair is better off without it; blacked-out accents generally denote sportiness, whereas the Corsair’s raison d’etre is anything but. It’s a luxury vehicle meant to coddle you to fancy restaurants — or airports — and it embraces that to a tee.
The Reserve is the highest trim of Corsair you can spec, short of the Grand Touring plug-in hybrid. The Reserve starts at $53,500, but the slew of options and packages equipped on our tester brought the as-tested price to $74,445, making it compete with the likes of the BMW X3, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and the Corsair’s homegrown competitor, the Cadillac XT4, among many others. This is a crowded segment, but what I like about the Corsair is that it ignores what everyone else is doing and sticks to what it knows — luxury.
This is very obvious when you step into its well-appointed cabin. Unlike its predecessor, the MKC, the Corsair masks its Ford roots oh so well. It isn’t a simple badge-engineering job; the Corsair’s dash is completely different than the Escape and eschews its sibling’s hard, scratchy plastics in favour of more premium materials. The infotainment screen and some of the switchgear is shared, but even the shifter is different, with the Lincoln using a row of buttons instead of the Escape’s rotary dial.
The two-tone beige-and-black colour combo is lovely, and there is a reserved — get it?! — amount of wood and chrome trim to further accentuate the upscale vibe, all easily visible from the sunlight the panoramic sunroof lets in. Even the speaker grilles have a subdued but premium ‘home theatre’ feel to them. The seats, outside of being heated and cooled, offer up 24 ways of adjustability, allowing you to find the perfect seating position; the serenity and comfort of it all is aided by the excellent massage functions for both the driver and front passenger.
Technology abounds in the Corsair Reserve. Beyond the excellent massaging seats, perhaps even more impressive is the Revel sound system. With no less than 14 speakers, it delivers crisp and clean surround sound; I know many purists don’t really like surround for audio, but I felt it created a huge soundstage that put you in the middle of it all.
The 13.2-inch infotainment screen has great resolution, supported by an excellent user interface with impressive graphics and good usability overall. One thing that stood out to me was the split functionality. Unlike the Acura RDX, which forces a split-screen even when using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the Lincoln allows you to switch between full- or split-screen mode. It sounds simple enough, but I appreciated it tremendously over Acura’s forced split. The interface looks good overall, including on the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, but I’d say their software is ahead of their hardware, as some animations — like switching between drive modes — would sometimes cause the system to freeze very briefly.
On driver assists, the Corsair is equipped with all the active safety features you’d expect and others you wouldn’t, like the adaptive cruise control being able to change lanes for you, and even goes as far as to suggest a lane change when appropriate.
When it comes to driving on your own, the Corsair never deviates from its luxury intent. There are various drive modes to choose from, but they don’t do much overall and you’re better off leaving the Corsair in its default mode. It can hold a line around a corner surprisingly well if you want it to, but the Corsair is a relaxed experience through-and-through. It soaks up bumps and potholes very well, and wind and road noise is minimal.
The Corsair Reserve shares its powertrain with the Escape, but that’s not a bad thing. The 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘EcoBoost’ four-cylinder engine makes 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, routed to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s a smooth combination, but it doesn’t shift particularly quickly in automatic or manual modes, yet still suits the Corsair’s character just fine.
Although I don’t often think about Lincoln, the 2023 Lincoln Corsair Reserve has changed my perception. If you put comfort and luxury above all else — and if, like me, your only experience with a Lincoln is a ride to the airport — I suggest even sitting in the Corsair’s 24-way adjustable and massaging driver’s seat. It might be just what you’re looking for.