With plenty of competition from other luxury utilities, Lincoln is going all out to get buyer attention.

Lincoln takes its utility vehicle to new heights

The Aviator’s seductive style, coddling comfort and big-numbers performance should help it make your short list

Ford Motor Co. has been retooling the Lincoln brand with new names and updated styling. With the 2020 Aviator, the brand is also introducing a completely new model.

In terms of ranking, the Aviator — a nameplate originally attached to a Ford-Explorer-based Lincoln sold from model years 2003 to 2005 — slots between the giant-size Navigator and the midsize Nautilus (née MKX). Despite being about 25 centimetres shorter than the Nav, the Aviator should for all intents and purposes be considered full size.

The newest tall Lincoln is built on the same rear-wheel-drive platform as the 2020 Ford Explorer. Although all-wheel-drive is standard in Canada, the powertrains are positioned longitudinally (front to back) and not sideways, as was the case with the Explorer’s previous front-wheel-drive architecture.

A regular springs-and-shocks suspension has been replaced with air springs with active (constantly adjusting) dampers. They work in combination with a camera that scans the road surface to assist the active suspension in smoothing out the ride.

The bodywork is decidedly elegant, from Lincoln’s signature grille (reminiscent of Jaguar’s, actually), on back to the slightly angled liftgate. Instead of squaring off the roofline as the designers did with the Navigator, the Aviator’s slopes downward toward the rear. That plus the slight creases around the fender openings contribute to the vehicle’s stately shape.

The extended-length rear doors should aid access of the two-place 50:50 split-folding (and power-folding) third-row seat.

There’s abundant space for seven passengers, or six if the available second-row bucket seats are ordered in place of the standard three-person bench. The individual seats can be separated, if ordered, by one of two different types of floor consoles.

The driver and front passenger have a clear view of the standard 10.1-inch or optional 12-3-inch information screen that sticks up from the dashboard.

The base Aviator is fitted with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V-6 that makes 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

For the plug-in hybrid model, an electric motor is connected to the transmission, bringing system output to 494 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. When the batteries are fully charged, in electric mode, the expended range is up to 50 kilometres.

Fuel consumption is rated 13.7 l/100 km in the city and 9.7 on the highway. As of this writing, hybrid fuel consumption has not been announced.

Of the two available trim levels, the Aviator Reserve, which lists for $77,700 (including destination charges), comes with quad-zone climate control, heated 10-way power-adjustable front seats, forward and reverse sensors and 20-inch wheels.

The Reserve also gets heated and ventilated first and second-row leather seats, panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, voice-activated navigation, 14-speaker Revel-brand sound system, and a hands-free power liftgate.

Optional are 22-inch wheels, 30-way power front seats with massage (also heated and ventilated) and a 28-speaker sound package.

Opting for the hybrid will necessitate ordering the Grand Touring trim that rings in at $83,200. It gets the full-load treatment, including air suspension with a system that automatically lowers the vehicle when the driver approaches.

As well, the two dozen or so bells and buzzers that sound whenever a seat belt isn’t attached, a door is ajar, etc., have been replaced by musical alerts crafted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. How’s that for class?

Drivers can also unlock the Aviator and even start it via a Phone As Key app. An exterior keypad can be used as a backup if your phone goes dead.

With plenty of competition from other luxury utilities, Lincoln is going all out to get buyer attention. The Aviator’s seductive style, coddling comfort and big-numbers performance should help it make your short list.

What you should know: 2020 Lincoln Aviator

Type: All-wheel-drive full-size utility vehicle

Engine (h.p.): 3.0-litre DOHC V-6, twin-turbocharged (400/494 with electric assist)

Transmission: Ten-speed automatic

Market position: As is the case with nearly every automaker, Lincoln is fortifying its tall-wagon lineup to fill every possible niche. The Aviator, which slots between the Nautilus and the Navigator, is but one example of this trend.

Points: Elegant upscale styling pulls out all the stops. • Spacious interior is appropriately well-dressed, but the information screen’s placement is jarring. • Twin-turbo V-6 pumps out plenty of power. The hybrid version does considerably better and should be more fuel-efficient. • Too bad the more expensive hybrid powertrain also requires the pricier upper trim level.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); emergency braking (std.); lane-departure intervention (std.); pedestrian detection (std.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) n.a.; Base price (incl. destination) $77,700

BY COMPARISON

Cadillac XT6

Base price: $63,000

New 2020 model will likely be the Aviator’s main rival among domestic brands.

Lexus RX 350L

Base price: $68,300

Seven-seat RX 350 model has style and space. Hybrid version is also available.

Volvo XC90

Base price: $61,800

Attractive base price, but top-end Inscription trim starts at nearly $75,000.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

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The screen popping out of the dash is the only distraction to an otherwise clean and elegant interior. Note the transmission is operated via a row of dash-mounted buttons. Photo: Lincoln

Before the Aviator, the only Lincoln utility with three rows of seats was the large and pricey Navigator. Photo: Lincoln

The Aviator shares its platform with the 2020 Ford Explorer, but each vehicle has its own powertrains. All-wheel-drive is standard in Canada. Photo: Lincoln

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