Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A green 2022 Lincoln Nautilus is shown parked in a driveway.

Underappreciated Luxury – Meet the New Lincoln

Lincoln has long been something of a forgotten luxury brand, living in the shadow of Cadillac. Although the Lincoln Navigator actually beat the Cadillac Escalade to market, the brand was slow to expand its SUV lineup, relying on a small lineup of comfortable but unexciting sedans. In the late 2000s, Lincoln attempted to reinvent itself, adding more SUV options and developing more modern cars. However, growth was hindered by its confusing new model names, as customers gave up trying to determine the difference between the MKZ, MKS, MKC, MKX, and MKT.

Fortunately, rather than sticking with a failing strategy, Lincoln bit the bullet and changed course. In the past few years, it has ended sedan production, pivoting fully to SUVs, and rolled out new easy-to-remember model names. Lincoln is also on the verge of introducing its first electric vehicles, expanding the brand in a new direction and challenging the electric models from Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and of course, Tesla. While Lincoln may not offer the prestige and performance of some European luxury brands, its new lineup offers plenty of luxury features at reasonable prices.

A silver 2022 Lincoln Corsair is shown from the front driving on a city street.

2022 Lincoln Corsair

Starting the new Lincoln lineup is its compact SUV, the Corsair. Introduced for 2020, the Corsair replaced the Lincoln MKC. Although the Corsair shares a platform with the Ford Escape and Ford Bronco, it offers superior performance and far greater luxury than the mass-market models. This is a theme in the current Lincoln lineup, as all of its models are built on Ford platforms. But while it may detract slightly from the premium experience, it allows Lincoln to sell luxury vehicles at much lower prices than brands that rely on bespoke platforms. The Lincoln Corsair, for example, starts at just $36k, while the equivalent BMW X3 or Mercedes GLC begin at $43k.

While the added cost of a bespoke platform may come with the benefit of somewhat sharper driving dynamics, the Corsair does not lack raw power or luxury features. In fact, the base engine pumps out 250 horsepower, putting it squarely in between the 248 horsepower BMW and the 255 horsepower Mercedes. The Corsair can also be optioned with a more powerful 295 horsepower engine or an efficient plug-in hybrid powertrain with 28 miles of all-electric range. A quick look at the feature list reveals that the Corsair also keeps up when it comes to comfort and convenience.

Available options include 24-way heated and ventilated seats with 15 selectable massage settings, a 14-speaker premium sound system, and a panoramic sunroof stretching the length of the cabin. But in addition to the expected over-the-top premium features, Lincoln has been upping its technology game. Despite being the most affordable option from the brand, the Corsair offers plenty of high-tech features. These include a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, hands-free parking assist, and phone as key. That last feature lets you leave your keyfob at home, instead using your smartphone to unlock and start the vehicle.

2022 Lincoln Nautilus

Lincoln’s midsize SUV was known as the MKX from its introduction in 2007 until its 2019 refresh. Emerging from the refresh with a sharp new look to accompany its new name, the Lincoln Nautilus currently holds the position of the brand’s best-selling model. Like the Corsair, the Nautilus also shares its platform with a Ford model––in this case, the dynamic Ford Edge. As the two models share the same turbocharged engine options, this means that the Nautilus offers all the exciting performance of the Edge ST in a more luxurious package. The upgraded 335 horsepower twin-turbo V6 is available on the Nautilus Reserve and standard on the Nautilus Black Label.

Despite receiving a thorough makeover in 2019, the Nautilus was given an interior update in 2021 that made it the first Lincoln model with the SYNC 4 infotainment system. On top of being displayed on an expansive 13.2-inch touchscreen, SYNC 4 enables over-the-air updates, allowing Lincoln to easily add new features over the life of the vehicle. The 13.2-inch center display is paired with a 12.3-inch driver display on all Nautilus models, giving the vehicle an extremely high-tech feel for its relatively low $43k starting price.

Like the Corsair, the Nautilus is also filled with traditional luxury features designed to make every drive relaxing, from massage seats to a 19-speaker audio system. However, the larger model goes a step further with the quality of its interior, offering a rich blend of premium materials. Brushed aluminum cabin trim is standard, with the option of Santos Rosewood or Espresso Ash Swirl open-pore wood. Upgrade to the Black Label, and you will be treated to an Alcantara headliner and carpeting to go with the Venetian leather seats. While it may not be as noticeable, the windshield and side windows in the Nautilus are even made from acoustic glass for a quieter cabin.

A red 2022 Lincoln Aviator is shown driving on an open road.

2022 Lincoln Aviator

The Aviator was introduced alongside the Corsair in 2020, taking the MKT’s place in Lincoln’s lineup. Although based on the same rear-wheel drive platform as the Ford Explorer, the Aviator takes things to the next level in terms of performance. The standard engine is the same 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6 that powers the high-performance Explorer ST, giving the base Aviator a better turn of speed than some other three-row luxury models, such as the Mercedes GLS 450 or Lexus 350 F Sport. However, it doesn’t stop there. The plug-in hybrid Grand Touring trims of the Aviator pair that same twin-turbo V6 with Lincoln’s Nano electric motor for a grand total of 494 horsepower on top of 21 miles of electric range.

The engineering appeal of the Aviator goes beyond raw power figures, though. Lincoln paid attention to providing the full luxury experience, offering adaptive dampers and adjustable air suspension for a premium ride that glides over uneven roads before lowering for you to disembark. Inside the cabin, you will find available 30-way seats and a 28-speaker sound system to further upgrade the ride, although the Aviator has yet to be updated with SYNC 4, so you will have to make do with a 10.1-inch touchscreen and SYNC 3. Two seating options are available, allowing you to choose between a second-row bench seat for a total of seven passengers or more comfortable second-row captain’s chairs for a total of six seats.

2023 Lincoln Mark E

Lincoln announced in 2021 that it would become an all-electric brand by 2030, replacing its current lineup of plug-in hybrid and traditional gasoline models with a portfolio of brand-new electric vehicles based on the Constellation design language. These vehicles will use a new rear-wheel drive architecture for more dynamic handling and will incorporate the latest technologies, from the SYNC 4 infotainment system to Lincoln’s ActiveGlide hands-free driving feature. The first of these vehicles will debut this year and go on sale as a 2023 model. While the name has yet to be officially confirmed, rumor has it that the EV will be named the “Mark E” as a nod to the iconic Lincoln Mark series of vehicles.

Details of the Mark E are still scarce, but it is expected that it will be roughly the size of the Aviator and share a platform with the rumored 2023 Ford Explorer EV. Based on the performance of the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Ford F-150 Lightning, we can expect the Mark E will offer excellent range and acceleration, possibly exceeding the BMW iX and Mercedes EQE SUV. However, it remains to be seen whether Lincoln will continue to target the affordable luxury segment or attempt to use its new EVs to move upmarket. Either way, it is an exciting new stage for the brand.

Rising From the Ashes, or Keeping Its Head Above Water?

There is no question that Lincoln’s new lineup has given the brand a much-needed boost. But exactly how big of a boost remains up for debate. While the Corsair, Nautilus, and Aviator are compelling options for drivers seeking luxurious features at a more affordable price than the expensive European brands, Lincoln’s sales still trail Cadillac and aren’t even in the same league as the major players in the luxury segment. Lincoln’s relatively limited lineup and its reliance on platform-sharing with Ford also restrict its room for growth, as it lacks anything that can compete with the truly high-end models from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.

The shift to electric vehicles provides an opportunity for Lincoln to reestablish market share since the other luxury manufacturers do not have much of a lead when it comes to designing EVs. In fact, the electric luxury offerings to date have uniformly combined staggeringly high prices with disappointingly low ranges, leading to Tesla dominating the segment. Still, you don’t have to wait for the Lincoln Mark E to debut before considering a Lincoln SUV. Its current lineup already has plenty going for it, and the brand may be the most underappreciated luxury option available today.