2021 Lincoln Corsair Plug-in Hybrid Review:Driving Impressions

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Dec 16, 2021

If you’re ready to try living with an electric vehicle, but you’re not prepared to commit to full EV ownership, a Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring with a plug-in hybrid powertrain is one way to give the technology an extended test drive.

Is the Lincoln Corsair Available as a Hybrid? - Find the best Lincoln deals!

The Lincoln Corsair is available as a hybrid. Called the Corsair Grand Touring, it is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that went on sale for the 2021 model year, and Lincoln positions it at the top of the Corsair SUV lineup with a price tag to match.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Lincoln Corsair PHEV range is 28 miles on electricity. Driven as a gas-electric hybrid, the Corsair Grand Touring supplies a total driving range of 430 miles while the SUV averages 33 mpg in combined driving. To ensure pure electric driving, use the Pure EV mode. Select the Preserve EV mode to preserve the battery charge for use at specific times.

If you drive the Lincoln Corsair plug-in in its Normal driving mode as I did, these official figures are not going to matter very much. That’s because the SUV’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine starts up when necessary to provide extra power for acceleration and climbing hills and shuts down under light acceleration and coasting. Furthermore, the battery continually captures energy through regeneration, adding to the potential number of miles you can travel on electricity.

As a result, on a 69.5-mile mountainous drive that started with a 77-percent battery charge and an indicated 22 miles of range, the test vehicle traveled 36.8 miles on electricity and averaged 45.7 mpg. As long as you plug the Corsair into a standard household outlet each night, you can expect similar results during your daily driving—even if the battery doesn’t completely charge.

But is this a small luxury SUV you might want to own? We’ll explore the answer to that question in this Lincoln Corsair plug-in hybrid review.

Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring Price and Release Date - Find the best Lincoln deals!

Set at $50,390, the Lincoln Corsair PHEV price is lofty, and that’s before adding a $1,095 destination charge to ship the SUV from its Louisville, Kentucky, factory to your local dealership.

However, to put this price into context, an Audi Q5 TFSI e starts at $54,600, a Lexus NX 450h+ kicks off at $55,650, while a Volvo XC60 Recharge costs at least $54,250. By comparison, the Lincoln is a relative bargain, but the competition offers significantly more power. Still, only the Lexus is more efficient.

For 2022, Lincoln makes a few changes to the Corsair lineup. New colors replace old ones, and all Corsairs are available with a new Lincoln Co-Pilot360 1.5 Plus package. Additionally, a new Luxury package adds a head-up display and a 14-speaker Revel premium sound system to Reserve and Grand Touring trims, while an Elements Technology “bundle” is newly restricted to the Corsair Grand Touring.

As you can see in the accompanying photos, the tested 2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring interior came in a Beyond Blue color that the company is canceling for 2022. Otherwise, it is product-correct for the 2022 model year, including the contents of the Elements Technology Bundle and the Co-Pilot360 1.5 Plus package. Add the extra-cost paint job, 20-inch aluminum wheels, and 24-way power-adjustable Perfect Position front seats with massage, and the test vehicle came to $61,730, including the destination charge.

The 2021 and 2022 Corsair Grand Touring models are on sale now.

Independent Expert Opinion: Design, Comfort, and Utility - Find the best Lincoln deals!

2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring White Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Approach the Lincoln Corsair, and you’ll notice the chubby-cheeked little SUV displays the company’s current design themes. Compared to the larger Lincoln Aviator it resembles, the proportions are a little off due to its basis on the same front-drive platform that sits underneath the Ford Escape.

At night, Lincoln Embrace’s welcome lighting makes the Corsair seem special as you step toward it. Unlock and open the driver’s door using the hands-free passive keyless entry fob, the SecuriCode PIN strip on the door frame, or the Phone As A Key digital key offered through your smartphone, and the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring interior looks downright decadent with appealing Art Deco themes, high-contrast colors, and rich materials.

Wisely, Lincoln offers traditional knobs and buttons in addition to digital instrumentation and a touchscreen infotainment system. Stereo and climate functions are straightforward, but the steering wheel controls are not. Also, with all the chrome trim and gloss-black surfaces, glare and reflection are issues on bright, sunny days.

I’m conflicted about the 24-way Perfect Position seats. They are comfortable, cradling your body like a giant catcher’s mitt. Plus, they’re wrapped in supple leather and offer heating, ventilation, and massage. But at the same time, they feel small, snug, and confining. Also, though padded, the sides of the center control panel pod intrude on legroom for taller drivers and passengers.

Rear passengers benefit from decent legroom, but because the Corsair is small, the seats feel undersized and lack thigh support. Also, wiring harnesses for the various front-seat functions dangle into passenger foot space. They are heated, though, which came in handy during a Southern California cold snap.

Front storage space is decent, but cargo space is tight. The Corsair Grand Touring holds no more than 26.9 cubic feet of cargo behind its rear seat. Lincoln does shape the luggage area to fit full-size suitcases on their sides, though, so you can likely squeeze four of them in and still close the available hands-free power liftgate.

Power seat release buttons in the cargo area make it easy to expand capacity when necessary. The maximum volume number measures 56.2 cubic feet.

Independent Expert Opinion: Infotainment, Technology, and Safety - Find the best Lincoln deals!

2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Lincoln offers an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the Corsair, and it’s running increasingly dated Sync 3 software. Highlights include Lincoln Connect services including a Wi-Fi hotspot, a Lincoln Way smartphone app with remote engine starting and more, Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, and Amazon Alexa integration.

Blandly monochrome in appearance, the infotainment system is adequate but appears to be quickly falling behind in terms of overall sophistication. That includes its standard voice-recognition capabilities, which proved hit-and-miss during testing. A wireless charging pad resides in the center armrest storage bin rather than in the tray forward of the cupholders, where it would be easier to access. The 14-speaker Revel premium sound system met expectations for the Corsair’s price and segment.

The test vehicle came with the expected advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) and then some. Among the unusual features were an evasive-steering assistance system, a traffic-jam assistance system, and an autonomous self-parking system that only requires the driver to remain in the driver’s seat while the Corsair takes care of steering, braking, shifting, and accelerating. During previous testing of this technology, it works as advertised, but you’ll want to use it only when surrounding traffic is thin or, better yet, non-existent.

The test route did not include heavy traffic, precluding examination of the Lincoln’s Traffic Jam Assist feature. It pairs adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability with lane-centering assistance to help alleviate stress during rush-hour commutes. When driving on highways at higher speeds, the Corsair’s lane-keeping technology has trouble when roads narrow from two lanes to one or widen from one lane to two. Off-ramps can also occasionally fluster the tech when you’re traveling in the right lane.

Independent Expert Opinion: Driving the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring - Find the best Lincoln deals!

2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring White Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

To create the Corsair Grand Touring’s plug-in hybrid powertrain, Lincoln pairs a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine with two electric motors embedded into a continuously variable transmission (eCVT) and a 14.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. An additional electric motor lives at the rear axle to give the Corsair Grand Touring standard all-wheel drive.

Total output measures 266 horsepower, and drivers select from multiple driving modes to calibrate the drivetrain and adaptive damping suspension to specific requirements. In addition to the previously mentioned Pure EV, Preserve EV, and Normal driving modes, the Corsair Grand Touring offers Conserve (an Eco mode), Excite (a Sport mode), Slippery (for rain and snow), and Deep Conditions (for deep snow or mud).

Like other PHEVs, the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring runs silently except at lower speeds when the pedestrian alert sound is active. Give Lincoln credit, though, for successfully quelling much of the potential grumbling you could potentially hear from the engine and eCVT. When evident, the gas powertrain’s note is more pleasing than expected.

Thanks to the immediate electric motor torque, the Corsair Grand Touring sprints off the line when you’re accelerating. However, with a rather hefty 4,532-pound curb weight and just 266 combined hp, this initially strong responsiveness fades to adequacy as the SUV picks up speed. You won’t want for much more, but neither does a Corsair Grand Touring surge forth as a turbocharged PHEV does.

That extra weight manifests itself in occasionally jouncy and choppy ride quality. The adaptive damping suspension does its best to preserve Lincoln’s “Quiet Flight” driving dynamics but isn’t always successful.

Switch the SUV into Excite mode, and the suspension can feel downright brittle at times. But, this mode also eliminates the Corsair’s sleepy feel from behind the wheel. In combination with the optional 20-inch wheels and the added weight low in the chassis, it feels a little bit like a slot car in corners and curves.

As for the Lincoln Corsair PHEV model’s efficiency, it certainly improves upon the standard and Reserve versions of the SUV. Charge it each night, and you’ll cover more miles on electricity than you might expect simply because the battery continually recoups and uses energy. You don’t even need a 240-volt home charger or a visit to a public charging station because a standard 120-volt household power outlet is adequate for daily use.

Better yet, the Corsair works well even when the battery has no charge left at all. That means you can drive it across the country without ever plugging it in, operating the SUV solely on the gasoline engine. And that’s the primary benefit of a plug-in hybrid vehicle in the first place. It makes perfect sense as a transition vehicle as the auto industry moves from fossil fuels to electricity.

Independent Expert Opinion of the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring - Find the best Lincoln deals!

Lincoln no longer sells cars. Instead, it has four SUVs in its lineup, two of which offer a PHEV powertrain. The 3-row Aviator Grand Touring is one of them, and the 2-row Corsair Grand Touring is the other.

If you’re ready to try living with an electric vehicle but you’re not prepared to fully commit to full EV ownership, a PHEV is a great way to give the technology an extended test drive. Plus, a plug-in hybrid eliminates a condition known as “range anxiety,” a fear in electric vehicle drivers that the battery will deplete its charge before they find a source of electricity.

Whether or not the Corsair Grand Touring is suitable for you has less to do with its powertrain and more to do with the Corsair itself. If you like the way it looks, feels, and drives, then you’re probably going to find the PHEV agreeable to own, especially considering the ownership benefits that come standard with every Lincoln, such as complimentary pickup and delivery service for scheduled maintenance visits.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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