Americans have always been obsessed with Europe, be it fashion, furniture or automobiles. Certainly, Cadillac has fallen under the spell of German luxury automakers, ignoring its own product legacy in the hopes that, by copying European automakers, it can compete with them.

While GM's luxury brand continues down this path to continued slumping sales, Lincoln has taken a different path, abandoning its obsession with letter-based model names like MKX and MKT for real ones, like Navigator, Aviator and Nautilus. At the same time, Lincoln has been endowing its products with an ambience it calls Quiet Flight.

"We have found a space for Lincoln to play in that is so differentiated from everybody else," said Michael Sprague, director of Lincoln North America. "The product is beautiful; it provides you this beautiful sanctuary, everything we do along the way is making it effortless for you."

The resulting Continental, Navigator and Aviator boast resplendent interiors that indulge their occupants with lavishness. And now comes the compact Corsair crossover, Lincoln's replacement for the MKC.

Designed by the same team that designed the Navigator and the Aviator, the Corsair is Lincoln's most refined vision of where the brand is heading, one defined by beautifully lush interiors, powerful drivelines and a perfect balance ride and handling in a way that's distinctly American.

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Based on the new front-wheel-drive Ford Escape architecture, Lincoln has gone to great lengths to differentiate the two products, more so than Escape and MKC. Longer and wider than its Ford cousin, the Corsair is the sportiest interpretation of Lincoln's new SUV style.

But it's the opulent interior that will truly blow buyers away.

Looking much like its larger siblings, the Corsair's horizontal instrument panel design lends the cabin a more a more spacious feel. Lined in soft leather, the Corsair's cabin evokes a modern classicism, up to date yet timeless. An eight-inch touchscreen with Sync 3, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard; a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is optional.

Lincoln has packed the Corsair with true luxury touches, such as a head-up display that projects your vehicle's speed and other information onto the windshield, as well as ambient lighting, a 14-speaker Revel audio system, 24-way power-adjustable massaging front seats, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats and rain-sensing wipers. There's even a vertical wireless charging pad inside the center console that keeps your smartphone hidden and out of the way. Smart. Even smarter? The rear seats that slide fore and aft 6 inches to allow for more people or cargo space. Best of all is a new app that allows you to use your smartphone in place of the vehicle's key fob.

The 2020 Lincoln Corsair has available a Revel audio system and multiple sound-dampening technologies to quiet the cabin. Lincoln/TNS
The 2020 Lincoln Corsair has available a Revel audio system and multiple sound-dampening technologies to quiet the cabin. Lincoln/TNS

The smart tech continues under the hood, where the Corsair is powered by a turbocharged 250-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 280-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front- or all-wheel drive is offered on 2.0-liter models; all-wheel drive as standard with the 2.3-liter engine. Regardless of engine, the EPA rates the Corsair at 24-25 mpg in combined city/highway fuel economy.

Uniquely, the Corsair uses a piano key layout for the transmission shifter, which takes time to get used to. Easier to adjust to are the Corsair's five driving modes: Normal, Excite, Slippery, Deep Conditions and Conserve, all accompanied by beautifully rendered instrument panel graphics.

While the 2.3-liter engine provided effortless power, the 2.0-liter seemed more than sufficient at moving the Corsair with authority. If you're considering all-wheel drive, keep in mind that it's rear biased, and can send 100% of the engine's power to the rear wheels if necessary.

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When it comes to the driving experience, the Corsair is very much the grand tourer, trading some sportiness for serenity. Lincoln went to great lengths to endow the Corsair with a tranquil, poised driving experience, although it's sporty enough to keep things interesting, with accurate steering and little body roll in corners. Clearly the available adaptive damping package significantly improved the Corsair's overall demeanor, and is worth trying before you buy.

All Corsairs come with such driver assistance safety systems such as forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, blind spot alert, cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a rearview camera and automatic high beams. An optional upgrade package adds adaptive cruise control with lane centering and speed sign recognition, 360-degree camera with front washer, front sensing system, evasive steering assist, reverse braking assist and active parking assist.It adds up to a vehicle that makes you forget about faux-European luxury cars. Instead, the Corsair forges a uniquely American identity that stands apart from its many competitors. In a world of pokey parkways, clogged interstates and traffic-choked city streets, the 2020 Lincoln Corsair is your respite from an overwrought world. And that's something few if any competitors match.

The latest compact SUV to wear the Lincoln star is a star in its own right, a stunning new vehicle from a brand on its ascendancy once again. It's a must-drive for anyone considering a luxury compact crossover SUV.

2020 Lincoln Corsair

  • Base price: $35,945-$42,630
  • Engine: Turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder
  • Horsepower/Torque: 295/310
  • EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 2{8 mpg
  • Fuel required: Premium
  • Wheelbase/Length/Width: 106.7/180.6/76.2 inches
  • Cargo capacity: 27.6-57.6 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: 3,000 pounds
  • Curb weight: 3,848 pounds