This week’s Corsair, the compact class entry from Ford’s luxury car division Lincoln, should be, by all rights, a hot seller right now as virtually every crossover model is swiftly eclipsing the sales of standard cars.

Yet Lincoln continues to labor against stiff headwinds in its quest to return to luxury car prominence. The on-going computer chip snafu has plagued Ford more than several other automakers, shaving hundreds of thousands of vehicles from the production schedule, while rapid advances from the competition have out-maneuvered Lincoln’s efforts to regain lost customers. Through the end of the third quarter of 2021, Lincoln’s YTD sales were actually 11% behind the previous year’s sales levels, while rivals like Cadillac, Volvo, Jaguar, and Acura were all exceeding the previous year, with BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus demonstrating impressive gains.

Loosely based on the Ford Escape compact crossover, the Corsair uses two different conventional powertrains plus a hybrid model. The standard 250 horsepower engine is a 2.0-liter Ecoboost four, while our sample, in Reserve trim (mid-level of three) featured the 295-hp 2.3-liter turbo-four motor. Both are backed by an eight-speed automatic and teamed with all wheel drive (AWD). The hybrid uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated with a battery pack and electric motor plus a CVT automatic to produce a total of 266-hp.

Pricing starts at just over $36,000, with our sample ringing in with a suggested retail price of $57,680 outfitted with 24-way power massaging leather seats, Lincoln’s Tech Package, the Sport Package, upgraded flight blue metallic paint, adaptive air suspension, as well as Group 201A’s portfolio of pieces — heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, Co-Pilot 360 driving assist, 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise and more. Built in Louisville, Ky., the Corsair is the number two selling model at Lincoln dealers.

While the 2.3-motor does a fine job of providing stout acceleration, it also returned 29 miles per gallon during its visit to Downeast Maine — one mile per gallon better than the projected Environmental Protection Agency highway number of 28 mpg. The turbocharged engine was quiet while working, and the ample torque on tap makes quick bursts of power rewarding. No one will ever wish they had a V6 here.

Lincoln Corsair interior. Photo by Tim Plouff

Accommodations are much more upscale than the similar Escape, with premium textures and surfaces throughout the cabin. Controls are generally very intuitive, except the piano key shifter bank across the center dashboard remains an unnecessary oddity. High marks to the massaging seats, convenient helm and overall outward visibility. However, the second row seating is tighter than several rivals.

A great size for most users, the Reserve model’s steeper entry point might direct some buyers to the larger (nine inches longer) mid-size Nautilus crossover which is approximately $5,000 more for each edition — which might explain why the Nautilus is suddenly outselling the smaller Corsair this year.

Lincoln has done a good job creating premium crossovers. But they surely need to get more exposure and become more aggressive with these vehicles if they hope to become a stronger player in this expanding segment.

In other Ford news, the company’s first foray into total electric vehicle production, the Mustang Mach-E, is now the fourth best-selling EV in America, trailing only the Tesla Model Y and Model 3, plus Chevy’s Bolt. The Ford will likely be the number three selling EV by year end, as Chevy has stopped Bolt sales until a battery recall issue can be rectified.

In a slightly skewed marketplace, EV sales have climbed to almost three percent of overall new vehicle sales during 2021 as many conventional vehicle sales have been widely impacted by the chip shortage.

Ford’s new Maverick compact class pickup just received EPA mileage estimates of 42 mpg city. Maverick, a hybrid unibody pickup, is reaching dealerships now.

Ford has recently announced new production facilities in Western Tennessee and Kentucky that will add over 11,000 jobs. These new technology centers will build the next wave of electric Ford pickups, as well as the batteries to power them.

With incentives from the two states, over $11 billion will be invested. Reduced power costs, better access to growing markets, as well as a large labor pool were among the factors contributing to the move away from traditional auto-manufacturing states. Tennessee is fast becoming the new “Detroit” with huge investments from Volkswagen and Nissan also announced lately.

These latest assembly plants in the southern part of the country, spread from Texas to South Carolina, shifts the core of the auto industry away from the Great Lakes plants in Michigan, Indiana, and Ontario and will re-shape labor costs and plant flexibility.

Tim Plouff has been reviewing automobiles for more than 20 years.

Lincoln Corsair. Photo by Tim Plouff