Lincoln’s Corsair SUV makes alphabet-soup names walk the plank

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Was Lincoln’s decade-long experiment in nonsense nomenclature a brilliant strategy to restore luster to tarnished nameplates, or was it an Acura-esque, Me-Too-Iguana attempt to imitate the Germans? We may never know. What’s important is the brand which once befuddled customers with an MKS/MKC/MKX/MKZ/MKT lineup now gratifies them with names which suggest the romance and excitement traditionally associated with the purchase of a prestige automobile. MKS yielded to Continental a few years ago, the MKT replacement is an Aviator, MKX customers are now directed to the Nautilus… and of course the Navigator was always far too important and profitable to ever be sullied with something like “MKExpedition.”

That leaves us with the MKZ compact sedan (which should become a Zephyr, but in this crossover-centric era is likely to simply go away instead) and the MKC compact crossover. The Escape-based MKC has been a steady volume driver for Lincoln over the past five years, but its nearest rivals from Acura and Lexus each sell more than two units for every MKC that leaves the showroom. There’s clearly room for improvement here.

Luckily for Lincoln, there’s a new-generation Escape on which to base an MKC successor. If insider information recently provided to Hagerty is correct, the aforementioned Escape will feature significant reductions in sound and vibration dampening, suggesting it’ll be more aggressively priced and positioned against the competition from Honda and Toyota. Expect Lincoln’s new crossover, now called “Corsair,” to have a little more clear air between itself and the previously premium-ish Ford from which it’s derived.

Spy shots of the new car indicate that it follows the general style of its Aviator and Nautilus siblings. Look for a small range of turbocharged four-cylinder engines, with the possibility of a hybrid option. The existing MKC was already well-integrated into the Lincoln lineup, featuring a Black Label trim level with multiple “themes,” and it’s unlikely that the Corsair will be any different.

Current MKC pricing structure offers a $35,000–$45,000 transaction range; the Corsair should bump that by a few grand at most. Unlike the Navigator and Aviator, which face relatively limited competition from a narrow range of brands, Lincoln’s little crossover will be cross-shopped against approximately a dozen offerings ranging from the small but jewel-like Lexus NX to the street-styled Chevrolet Blazer. The Corsair’s truest competition, however, is likely the new Cadillac XT4, which will shortly be adopting that brand’s torque-based engine designation scheme. Can the Corsair, which is named after a lightweight pirate ship, benefit from Cadillac’s doubling down on alphabet-soup badges, or will it confuse a buyer base which had finally habituated to MKSomethings? Let’s hope for the former; in the opinion of this author, it’s long past time for the numbers-and-letters crowd to walk the plank.

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