By Nauman Farooq
Lincoln’s first attempt at offering the world an “Aviator” model didn’t go too well! It went in production in 2003 and went out of production in 2005. While it received fairly positive reviews, the public could see what it truly was – a glammed up Ford Explorer of the day – and didn’t bother to pay the extra dollars it demanded!
You’d think that after such a poor sales performance, Lincoln would have given up on the Aviator nameplate – well, after abandoning it for about 15 years, it is back!
Like the first-generation model of the Aviator, this new, 2020 Lincoln Aviator is also based on the Ford Explorer (the all-new 2020 model) – but the differences between them are so many, a regular person would not be able to draw the link between the two.
Question is, will the new Aviator find long-time success, or will it too wither away after a few years?
So let’s delve into this vehicle in more detail, and find out!
Styling: If the sole reason you buy a vehicle is based on looks, than the Aviator is a home run! With styling reminiscent of its big brother, the Lincoln Navigator, the Aviator takes those lines and sharpens them. So as a result, the Aviator is sleeker, its taillights are better integrated into the body shell, along with the exhaust cutout in the rear bumper.
In the front, the badge in the grille illuminates – which is quite cool – and the whole front-end of the vehicle looks to be just beautifully sculpted. Around the side, you get an illuminated “welcome mat” that lights up your path to the vehicle, and you don’t have to tug at the door handle – it has an electronic release, so just a light touch would do.
Lincoln seems to have really studied what buyers of luxury vehicles find appealing, and than designed the Aviator to meet those needs!
Interior: Things actually get even better as soon as you open the door! Step inside, and you’re welcomed by one of the nicest looking interiors in the industry.
Everything you, look, touch, and feel is just beautifully done. You can tell that no shortcuts were taken to complete this interior. From the layout of the dashboard, to the large infotainment screen, to the well laid out center console, to the excellent seats, the space front and rear – it is all just excellent.
You get every feature you can imagine, including massaging seats – so this is a supremely well built and well appointed vehicle.
It’s not perfect, mind you, as access to the third-row seating isn’t the easiest, and when the third row is erected, there is fairly little cargo space. Best to use this as a five passenger vehicle and keep the third-row of seats folded down – then you get lots of cargo room.
All in all, this is a good vehicle to spend time in.
Powertrain: There are two engines offered with the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. The premium engine is a gas-electric plug-in hybrid that produces 494 max system horsepower, and 630 lb-ft of torque.
My tester had the base engine – which is not really basic at all! It has a displacement of 3.0L, has six-cylinders in a “V” configuration, and has not one, but two turbochargers. As a result, this motor produces 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque – which is plenty.
All that power is fed to all-wheels via a smooth 10-speed automatic transmission, which is ideally suited for a vehicle like this.
Performance & Driving Dynamics: As you’d expect, the 2020 Lincoln Aviator isn’t a performance minded vehicle – its emphasis is more towards luxury than speed. However, it will surprise you just how quick it truly is.
Its twin-turbo V6 reacts quickly to your inputs, and hurls this 2,222 kg machine with ease – and that’s just in its normal “Comfort” mode. Engage “Excite” and it reacts even better.
Like the Navigator, the Aviator also benefits with several drive modes, to help you get you through various situations, such as bad weather or bad tarmac. While it might not be capable of going off-road like a Jeep Wrangler, thanks to its terrain management system and its “Air Glide” suspension system, it does it’s best to provide you with the smoothest ride possible. Couple that with adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, and trust me, a long drive in this vehicle is calmer than a stroll on the beach on a summer’s evening.
I know what you’re thinking… you’re wondering how the handling is, and is the steering communicative enough?
Well, let’s just say the Aviator handles better than I expected, but this is no super sport SUV. It manages its weight well, and the steering load is good, but the steering does lack feel, and hence makes it a bit tough to place this vehicle at times, but it’s not to an extant that you should worry about it.
In short, the new Aviator is nice to drive – it truly is.
Fuel Economy: In my fuel economy test (where I drive a vehicle 170 km on the highway + 130 km in the city) the 2020 Lincoln Aviator averaged 13.7 L/100 km – that’s not very efficient!
However, given how nice it is to drive, I can almost forgive it its drinking habit.
Pricing: The 2020 Lincoln Aviator range starts from $68,500 – and can climb quite high up from there. So, it’s not cheap, but it is also quite excellent, so it is worth your consideration.
Verdict: Lincoln is on an upward swing, and it shows. It started with the Navigator a few years ago, and my recent outing in the new Corsair also left me very impressed! The only let-down in the current range is the Nautilus, but I’m sure Lincoln will rectify that in the near future, too.
The Aviator is just sublime. From the moment you approach it, and get in, it envelopes you in luxury. The drive reaffirms that message of luxury, and you’ll arrive at your destination feeling fresh and positive.
Sorry if that sounds like something out of a brochure, but it really is that good!
So, will this generation of the Aviator find long-term success? I truly hope so, it deserves it.
Sadly, the world is going through a very tough time at the moment, due to the coronavirus pandemic, which will have a very negative effect on car sales. Let’s all hope and pray, that this passes us quickly, and life returns to normal, as soon as possible!