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2020 Lincoln Aviator Overview
For 2018, Lincoln impressed us with a new Navigator that was so good it leapt from last to first place within its segment. For 2020, Lincoln follows that success by replacing its aging MKT crossover with a new midsize three-row crossover called the Aviator. If that nameplate sounds familiar, it’s because the brand last used it on an upscale version of the Ford Explorer SUV. And while it’s true that the new Aviator shares its DNA with the redesigned 2020 Explorer, it’s luxurious, going against competitors like the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60, and Volvo XC90.
The Aviator’s exterior dutifully follows the styling of the Navigator, including a prominent three-dimensional mesh grille, uninterrupted expanses of side glass, and plenty of chrome. At the same time, the Aviator playfully steps out with unique details. The entire shape is curvier and more athletic, and the full-width rear light bar is smoother and more expressive. Lincoln’s designers say the entire effort was inspired by aeronautical principles, and it shows.
Meanwhile, the Aviator’s interior wouldn’t look out of place in a private jet, with wide consoles, floating panels, and de-cluttered interfaces. All switchgear and material choices appear to be top-notch, from the stitched dashboard to the various wood grain options. Seats offer ample adjustability for all 6 occupants. The optional Perfect Position seats adjust 30 different ways, while the standard second-row bucket seats recline, adjust fore and aft, and slide forward. Even the third row, an area often neglected by automakers, was designed for long-haul comfort. Selecting one of Lincoln’s Black Label options gets you curated color and trim experiences, like Flight, Chalet, and Destination.
As far as the mechanics go, neither of the Aviator’s packages will leave you wanting for power. The standard option includes a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, also seen in the MKZ and Continental models that puts out a square 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a crisp-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission and comes in either rear- or all-wheel-drive configurations. If that’s not enough, the Aviator’s performance option comes in the form of a hybrid called the Aviator Grand Touring. It pairs that same engine with battery-electric technology for 450 hp and 600 lb-ft, which is best-in-class. Lincoln says it was able to integrate the battery without unduly compromising passenger or cargo capacity.
Every Aviator is a genuine technology center. It debuts a brand-new technology Lincoln calls Phone As A Key, which lets you lock, unlock, start, and drive the car using an authenticated smartphone. Should you choose to loan the vehicle to a friend or family member, you can register as many as four phones at a time. However you choose to access the Aviator, its standard air-suspension system automatically lowers the vehicle upon unlocking it, which makes it easier for you to enter and exit the vehicle as well as load cargo into the back. And once inside, you’ll be greeted by a 12.3-inch instrument cluster that works in concert with the Aviator’s selectable drive modes, including two that are exclusive to the Aviator Grand Touring hybrid model. Once you get underway, the optional Adaptive Suspension with Road Preview can detect potholes or uneven pavement and immediately adjust the suspension to keep the ride as smooth as possible and diminish the chances of costly wheel damage. Other technology options include massaging front seats, wireless phone charging, and a Revel Ultima 3D audio system with 28 speakers. Another new feature is the warning chimes performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Lincoln worked with the DSO to choose 6 chimes for 3 different warnings: non-critical, soft warning, and hard warning.
On the safety front, the Aviator–like all Lincolns–comes standard with the Co-Pilot360 package, which bundles blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist, and a reversing camera. You can then tack on the Co-Pilot360 Plus package, which adds adaptive cruise control, a traffic-jam assistant that works the throttle, brakes, and steering wheel in congested areas, evasive steer assist, reverse brake assist, and automated parking.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator is the second half of a solid one-two punch in Lincoln’s revamped SUV/crossover lineup. It’s an effortless and distinctly American blend of high style, luxury, and technology that appears quite promising. Look for the model to hit dealerships in the 2019 calendar year.
Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.
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