The 2020 Lincoln Aviator amounts to much more than an Explorer with fancier leather and real wood trim.
Two versions of the Aviator will be available this summer — standard and Grand Touring.
Standard Aviators employ a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 making 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, fed to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Multiple driver-selected modes, including Conserve, Normal, and Excite, adjust power delivery accordingly. An optional all-wheel-drive system best leverages Slippery and Deep Conditions driving modes.
Aviator Grand Touring is equipped with the same V6, but electrified. Output measures 450 hp and 600 pound-feet of torque, adding both performance and efficiency to the SUV. Pure EV and Preserve EV driving modes are exclusive to the Aviator Grand Touring.
An available Adaptive Suspension with Road Preview can scan the road ahead for potholes and make adjustments to reduce impact harshness. It also kneels the Aviator as its owner approaches, making it easier to get into and out of the SUV as well as to load cargo.
A suite of Lincoln Co-Pilot360 driver assistance and collision avoidance technologies is standard equipment. An upgraded version is called Co-Pilot360 Plus, adding Traffic Jam Assist for heavy traffic situations, Reverse Brake Assist automatic rear braking, fully autonomous Active Park Assist Plus, and Evasive Steering Assist to help safely avoid obstacles in the road.
‘Quiet Flight’ cabin comforts and soothes
Crafted to Lincoln’s Quiet Flight design ethos, the new Aviator will be available in several levels of specification. At the top of the lineup, the Black Label version equips the SUV with one of three interior design themes called Chalet, Destination, and Flight.
Chalet combines off-white Lincoln-star-perforated leather with dark brown accents and Silverwood trim. Destination employs dark red diamond-weave leather and Khaya wood trim. Flight blends Luggage Tan naturally textured leather with black accents and brushed, engine-turned metal trim. Black Label Aviator models also get unique exterior styling details, and come with an expanded list of Lincoln ownership privileges.
Technology is an expected element of any new luxury vehicle, and the Aviator supplies plenty of it. For example, it offers new Phone As A Key technology, which allows the owner to unlock or lock the SUV, open the liftgate for loading, and to start the engine using the Lincoln Way smartphone app.
What happens if your smartphone battery dies, or you lose it somewhere? Good question. The Aviator has a touchpad entry system on the door pillar. As long as you’ve programmed a PIN code, you can enter the vehicle and then use a backup code tapped onto the infotainment screen to start and drive the Aviator. This works well – as long as you can remember your PIN and backup code.
The Aviator will also offer 30-way adjustable Perfect Position front seats with heating, ventilation, and massage. Lincoln says both the second- and third-row seats will supply generous room for the segment, and that the Aviator Grand Touring’s battery packaging does not impede upon passenger and cargo space.
Lincoln’s latest infotainment system is on-board, too, equipped with a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and supported by wireless device charging and steering wheel controls for accessing voice commands, music, phone, and navigation functions. A Revel Ultima 3D premium audio system is available, too, employing 28 speakers throughout the Aviator’s cabin.
Lincoln is back, baby
You could make the argument that it was the 2017 Lincoln Continental that served as the apex the company clipped on its way back to relevance. The Continental established a new Lincoln design language, brought back real names instead of alphabetical gobbledygook, and introduced new drivetrains, amenities and technologies to the automaker’s cars and SUVs.
Lincoln followed the Continental up with the redesigned 2018 Navigator and a freshening for nearly its entire lineup, including a new name for the SUV formerly known as the MKX – now the Nautilus.
In my opinion, however, it is the 2020 Lincoln Aviator that truly signals the company’s revival. It looks terrific, it is a midsize SUV with three rows of seats, and it debuts the electrified powertrain technology that is critical to any car company.
People will actually want to own the Aviator, regardless of the Lincoln star embedded into its handsome grille.