The Lincoln Aviator is the little brother SUV to the larger Lincoln Navigator. The Aviator features smooth-riding unibody construction, as most modern SUVs do. The difference is the Navigator – and the original 2003 Aviator – have a trucklike body that sits on a frame, as pickup trucks do. The new approach makes the Aviator a popular alternative to its bulky sibling. Now, the 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring plug-in hybrid is an eco-friendly alternative to V8 competitors.
2020 to Present: Lincoln Aviator
Debuting 15 years after production stopped on the first generation, the 2020 Lincoln Aviator is a powerful and lavishly equipped vehicle with its own unique personality and a commanding road presence. The Aviator keeps all four wheels firmly in the present, too, thanks to its suite of modern technologies.
The Aviator is a midsize luxury SUV that’s available with six- or seven-seat cabin layouts. More surprising is that the Aviator is a rear-wheel-drive SUV. All-wheel drive is available, of course, and there’s available plug-in hybrid system for the latest models. The standard powertrain is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine married to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The 2020 Aviator has a base model and four additional trims: Reserve, Grand Touring, Black Label and Black Label Grand Touring. The Grand Touring models have the plug-in technology.
Outside, an aggressively sculpted front end is enhanced by sloping adaptive pixel LED headlamps. To complement that rugged face, the Aviator wears skintight sheet metal over its muscular body. This creates a slick, aerodynamic look completed with integrated exhaust outlets and full-width lighting across the tailgate.
The cabin has an elegant, structured design. Climate controls and other switches gathered on the floor console are easily accessible from the front seats.
The Aviator takes its role as a three-row people-hauler seriously. That’s one reason Lincoln supplies competitive amounts of legroom for all rows along with versatile rear cargo space.
A twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 delivers 400 horsepower on its own, which helps provide both robust towing capability and surprisingly sporty driving experience. Buyers can also up the ante with the Aviator’s plug-in powertrain. This adds a lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor for nearly 500 horses. A “Pure EV” driving mode enables a substantial all-electric travel range.
The touring plug-in hybrid model offers a “Preserve EV” mode as well. It lets drivers charge the battery and save their electricity for when EV driving is most efficient, such as in the city. In this mode, the Aviator operates like a conventional hybrid model with an extended range and, compared to non-hybrid vehicles, improved fuel economy.
Standard technology includes mobile Wi-Fi, Lincoln’s Co-Pilot 360 safety features and warning chimes recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. A 28-speaker Revel audio system is among the Aviator’s top-tech options.
The Cadillac XT6 is the Aviator’s arch-rival, but the big Lincoln also competes against the likes of the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. Note the Acura, Cadillac and Volvo entries have standard front-wheel drive, while the Aviator sends power to its rear wheels with its standard powertrain.
Earlier Lincoln Aviator Models
The first-generation Lincoln Aviator was sold new during the 2003 through 2005 model years. It was closely related to the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer of that era. Today’s Aviator is a powerhouse due to its 302-horsepower standard V8 and 300 pounds-feet of torque.
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