2020 Lincoln Aviator

PHOENIX — The Lincoln Aviator is an all-new three-row luxury SUV that positions itself between the larger Navigator and the smaller Nautilus. The Aviator name was previously used from 2002 to 2005, when it was essentially a Ford Explorer gussied up to look like a Lincoln Navigator. Buyers saw through what Lincoln was attempting and the vehicle never caught on.

The new Aviator takes its styling cues from both the Lincoln Continental and Navigator as well as borrowing from aviation stature with its upright grille. The body and tail taper off, creating an aerofoil aeronautic analogy, according to Lincoln designers. We think it looks clean and simple, yet gorgeous with a beautiful sense of poise and grace.

The Aviator offers seating for six or seven, depending on if buyers opt for second-row captain’s chairs. Up front, Lincoln’s Perfect Position 30-way power-adjustable and massaging seats are lifted from the Navigator. Horizontal lines dominate throughout the cabin but particularly on the dash, which spans from door to door, replete with air vents.

Seats are upholstered with supple leathers. Machined and brushed aluminum appliqués add an upscale accent. Design inspiration comes from Lincoln’s Black Label theme and color schemes – like Chalet, Destination and Flight – with colors like cashmere, luggage tan or mahogany red with khaya wood surfaces and quilted leather seating.

State-of-the-art technology and infotainment include the high-end Revel audio and speaker system with 28 speakers. A 12.3-inch touchscreen is standard. Other tech includes air glide suspension that actually lowers the height of the vehicle as the driver approaches making it easier to get in or load gear. The owner’s smartphone acts as a key, unlocking it, opening the rear liftgate, or starting the engine. There’s Road Preview, which uses a camera to spot potholes or uneven surfaces and immediately adjust the suspension for the impact.

The Aviator is available in five trim levels. We drove the mid-level Reserve with all-wheel-drive and powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine with 400 horsepower and teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

However, the big news is the Grand Touring trim level that includes the same 3.0-liter V-6 but adds a plug-in hybrid tech feature that makes 494 horsepower and a massive 630-lb-ft of torque and enables up to roughly 18 miles of pure electric-only driving range. It’s the most powerful engine ever offered in a Lincoln product.

Even with its base engine, our test Aviator is noticeably quick. Lincoln put a lot of thought into delivering a quiet ride and stuffed it with ample sound-deadening insulation. On the road, Aviator feels extremely capable, confident and substantial, handling road conditions and corners with aplomb, as it should.

Overall, it’s readily apparent Lincoln has spent a tremendous amount of time, effort and money to build the new Aviator. With luxury, technology and attention to detail, we easily give it two thumbs up. Way up.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $51,100 - $87,800
Price as Tested: $75,355
Engine: Twin-turbocharged 400-hp 3.0-liter V6 teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel Economy: 17 city – 24 highway – 20 combined
Seating: 6 or 7

Where Built: Chicago assembly plant, Chicago, Illinois

Crash Test Rating: The 2020 Lincoln Aviator has not been crash tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as of this writing.

Competes With:
Audi Q7
Cadillac Escalade
Infiniti QX80
Mercedes Benz GLE
Range Rover Sport
Volvo XC90

Fab Features
Perfect Position 30-way power seats
Air Glide Suspension
Plug-In Hybrid available

— Jim Prueter