Forget the fob, use the phone. That’s Lincoln’s message with the Phone As A Key function on the redesigned 2020 Lincoln Corsair.
With Android devices and Apple iOS versions 9.0 and higher, owners can unlock doors on approach, start the car, and drive away, while freeing up space in pockets or pocketbooks by leaving the key fob behind, where it will join the manual transmission and the CD player in the “Coming Soon!” hall of automotive museums.
Phone As A Key is an extension of The Lincoln Way app, which can precondition the car, remote start it, track it, check maintenance, and other conveniences associated with the Internet of Things. Nearly every automaker has a similar app, from Buick to Tesla to Hyundai, but the difference with the way too literally named Phone As A Key function is greater convenience and enhanced security, according to Lincoln.
First launched on the Aviator mid-size SUV, Phone As A Key switches from the embedded modem or wi-fi to a low-energy Bluetooth connection in the car once the smartphone is within about three feet. The 11 antennas around the car detect range. If you’re opening the liftgate to put packages in, for instance, the driver’s side door will remain locked until you move close enough for it to open, so someone can’t slide in and take off. The Bluetooth system provides a signal even in out-of-reach areas such as underground parking garages.
Once the phone is inside the vehicle, the driver can drive away. It offers the same convenience of passive entry with key fobs, but with one less thing to carry.
Up to four “keys” can be added, which is something you can’t do with a key fob. Each of the four connected smartphones can create their own driver profile that automatically adjusts seating and mirror positions, entertainment settings, and up to 80 features total, so that a family of four drivers won't mind sharing the car.
With Phone As A Key, Lincoln appeals to a younger, different demographic than typically associated with Lincoln, according to a spokeswoman.
“With (Phone As A Key) in Aviator and Corsair, we’re introducing Lincoln to a broader audience of affluent millennials and, especially, women,” Gretchen Sauer, brand manager of the Lincoln Corsair, told us during a demo.
The small crossover formerly known as the MKC draws women into the brand more than any other demographic, Sauer added.
“MKC and Corsair are skewing heavily to the female buyer due to thoughtfulness on interior design and how we’ve placed features,” Sauer said.
Having one less thing to carry around when out running errands or going for a run is a convenience, as is never having to hand anything over. A valet mode lets owners enter the passcode for the valet to start and drive the vehicle, until they get back in and the smartphone automatically disables it. If the phone dies or is stolen, owners can still use the old numeric touchpad on Lincoln doors to get in the car and activate the system in the touchscreen to start the car and drive away.
Phone As A Key is not offered on based Standard trim, and optional on Reserve trim.