2020 Lin­coln Avi­a­tor

New look and pow­er­train help set it apart

Motor Trend - - Intake - Alisa Prid­dle

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.

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