Adding a full-time automatic all-wheel-drive system to the 2003 Lincoln Aviator STD AWD provides more road traction in tough conditions, but cuts down a bit on the towing power of this midsize luxury SUV. With the optional trailer hitch and towing package, the 302-hp, 4.6-liter DOHC V8 that delivers 300 ft-lbs of torque can tow 7,100 pounds. A 5-speed shiftable automatic is the only transmission available. A limited-slip center differential comes with the AWD system, along with an independent rear suspension, body-on-frame platform, and stronger shocks than the typical SUV. With a 113.7-inch wheelbase (13 inches shorter than the Navigator's), the 2003 Aviator STD AWD still manages to fit three rows of seats that seat six. Replacing the second-row captain's chairs and center console with a bench seat adds capacity for one more person. The third-row bench seats two and folds nearly flat. The second row flips up for access to the rear. Cargo area starts at 12 cubic feet and expands to 77 with all seats down. A roof rack is standard.
Dual front-side and side curtain airbags, 4-wheel disc and ABS brakes, parking sensors, automatic headlights, foglights, and mirrors with turn signals earn the best safety ratings from the Insurance Institute. Xenon headlights and AdvanceTrac traction and stability control are available. Bathed in leather upholstery, the interior offers heated front seats, 6-way power seats with memory settings, power-adjustable pedals, a CD player with wheel-mounted controls, cruise control, dual-zone climate control with backseat controls, intermittent front and rear wipers, remote entry, a garage opener, heated mirrors, security system, and a trip computer. Leather, wood, and nickel accents decorate the dash, wheel, and doors. The front center console contains two sets of cupholders and a flip-out tray. Options include a DVD player, navigation system, sunroof, 6-CD changer, 17-inch chrome wheels in place of the standard 17-inch alloy, and the popular heated and cooled front seats. Great V8 power, luxury features and styling, and interior comfort rate high with owners. The small third row and the 13/19 mpg estimates are unpopular.