2020 Lincoln Aviator
New look and powertrain help set it apart
With the introduction of the 2020 Aviator, Lincoln dive-bombs into a high-volume segment with a rear-biased all-wheeldrive crossover that’s also available as a plug-in hybrid.
When the Aviator returns to the market next year, slotting between the Nautilus and Navigator, the Grand Touring trim will debut the company’s new hybrid powertrain: a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 coupled with an electric motor. The powertrain generates 450 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque and comes with Ford’s 10-speed automatic.
Only the Grand Touring will offer the hybrid system. Other grades will come with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 making 400 hp and 400 lb-ft.
The Aviator launches with halo power and family resemblance to its big brother Navigator, which should give it the gravitas to make a bigger splash than the last time this automaker brought an Aviator to market. The Aviator’s 2003 predecessor was a Ford Explorer dressed like a Lincoln Navigator— developed in hopes of keeping buyers from straying to BMW, Mercedes-benz, or Lexus.
It didn’t work. Buyers saw through the badge engineering, balked at the $40,000 price tag, and didn’t appreciate the body-on-frame ride when competitors were switching to car-based unibody crossovers.
By contrast, the new Aviator is not lifted from the Ford parts bin. Rather than trying to elevate mass-market underpinnings, the Aviator is the first vehicle from Ford’s rear-drive, unibody architec- ture, which will cascade to mass-market models but is a luxury platform first.
The new Aviator offers a runway of technology. When the driver approaches the vehicle, the suspension lowers to make it easier to get in or load gear. The owner’s smartphone acts as a spare key— another first for the automaker.
The continuously controlled damping system provides a carlike ride. A popular feature could be what Lincoln calls “adaptive suspension with road preview,” which uses a camera to spot potholes or uneven surfaces and adjust the suspension for the impact.
The Aviator also introduces Lincoln Co-pilot360 Plus, a suite of safety systems that adds the ability to navigate traffic, adjusting speed by braking and accelerating as needed, steering when necessary to stay in the lane or avoid a collision, and braking when a vehicle is detected while the Aviator is backing up. The system can also help you park.
The Aviator ushers in a new Black Label top trim Lincoln calls Flight, which uses a tan and ebony palette and replicates the shape of early aviation instruments. But even the lower trims aim for an uncluttered cockpit where occupants can relax, stretch out in 30-way adjustable massaging seats, and listen to the optional 28-speaker Revel Ultima audio system. Second-row passengers can recline and adjust their seats— which also slide forward to access the third row.
Despite all these luxury touches, Lincoln is expected to be competitive in its pricing. The Aviator takes off this summer.
The Aviator’s overall design, with sculpted sides and a sloping “fastfall” roofline, was designed to mimic a bird in flight, said Lincoln design director David Woodhouse.