2020 Lincoln Aviator Review – One of the hottest tickets in New York City is the TWA Hotel. Occupying Twee’s old flying center at JFK airport, it is a sanctuary for the glory days of aviation, complete with a Lockheed constellation PASSAGER PARK parked out back. On a recent visit, a 1960s Lincoln Continental was parked in front and it blended right in. Like the aerospace industry, Lincoln was at the height of its attraction in the 1950s and 1960s, but has lost much of its luster in subsequent decades.
2020 Lincoln Aviator Review
So it’s fitting that Lincoln tries a comeback with a vehicle called the Aviator. The 2020 Lincoln Aviator is a three-row mid-size luxury SUV that caters to vehicles like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. But it is also the new Face of Lincoln that aims to woo buyers with distinctive style and character, as well as a host of new Tech features.
When it goes on sale later this year, the 2020 Aviator will be available with both gasoline and plug-in hybrid powertrains. Our tests through California’s Napa Valley included seat time in both. The Aviator has a base price of $ 52,195, but our test cars were priced well above that. We drove a gasoline black label model that retails for $ 81,790, while our Grand Touring plug-in hybrid (at a lower trim level) was priced at $ 83,670 (all prices include a mandatory $ 1,095 destination fee).
2020 Lincoln Aviator Slim hull
The Aviator name was first used by Lincoln in the early 2000s on a renamed version of the Ford Explorer, so it is fitting that the new Aviator shares a basic platform with the redesigned 2020 Ford Explorer. The new platform is rear-wheel drive, which got us excited about the potential handling benefits (more on that later), and gives designers more attractive proportions to work with.
Speaking of design, Lincoln worked hard to differentiate the Aviator from its Ford Explorer cousin — not to mention most other SUVs in its segment. Lincoln’s design team hadn’t messed too much with the traditional SUV shape that customers expect, but the Aviator isn’t just a box on wheels. Elements like the short overhangs, the way the hood and headlights curve away from the upright grille, and the way the body wax lights front to back gives the Aviator a streamlined look. Unlike many current vehicles, the radiator grille is a reasonable size. The chrome trim is also restrained, providing just enough glitz to reference classic American cars from the 1950s and 1960s. Like the Volvo XC90, the Aviator is not only a good look, but also a hint of its brand and its nation of origin.
The interior imports some of the more distinctive features of the Big-Brother Lincoln Navigator. While competitors are wasting time with electronic switches that feel like arcade game joysticks, Lincoln has figured out the perfect solution: easy-to-use piano-key-like buttons that are tucked out of the way on the dashboard. The aviator also has 30-way “Perfect position” seats previously seen in the Navigator and Continental sedan. With so many adjusting options, it took a while to find the perfect position, but the seats were very comfortable once we found it. Plus, the seats have a massage feature, with several options to choose from. We were impressed with the interior materials of our black label test car, but felt that lower trim levels were a significant downgrade.
Like Boeing and Airbus, the makers of the three-row SUVs are constantly competing to provide the most interior space. The Aviator compares favorably to its main rivals, and we certainly found it more comfortable than Delta’s economy. Lincoln offers more first- and second-rank headroom than a Volvo XC90 or Audi Q7, though the Cadillac XT6 has multiple third-level headroom. It’s probably a case of the Aviator slim design coming back to bite it, as the XT6 has a very high, upright roof. Lincoln also has more first-row legroom than Volvo and Audi, and more second-row legroom than Cadillac, but all three competitors offer more room for third-row passengers to stretch out.
With all three rows of seats in place, the Aviator offers more luggage space than its competitors. Cargo Space is also the same for gasoline and plug-in hybrid models, despite the plug-in hybrid battery pack. But the Cadillac XT6 has a larger load hold when the two rear rows are folded.
Tech with a human touch
It often seems like luxury car makers pile on tech features without giving any thought to how they will be used. The aviator does not have to say, the BMW gesture control, or Volvo’s smart-looking portrait touchscreen, but the features it has show an impressive attention to detail.
The Aviator also has a feature its rivals don’t: the ability to use your smartphone instead of a key fob. It was as simple as going up to the car with the phone in hand, and then dumping it in a cubbyhole. Granted, we used a phone provided by Lincoln and set up our test car in advance so that Real-Life experiences may vary. We know that if something happens to the paired phone, the owners can use a keypad on one of the door posts to unlock the vehicle and the central touch screen to start it. The phone-as-key feature can also be quickly erased if a phone is lost or stolen, according to Lincoln.
A 10.1-inch touchscreen is standard equipment. The monitor sits proudly on the dashboard, putting it within reach of the driver, but it runs basically the same Sync 3 infotainment system found in smaller Ford models. At least Lincoln made Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard, along with a built-in WiFi hotspot. Lincoln also found some smart ways to make the infotainment system easy to use.
Most new cars have steering wheel controls so drivers can keep their hands on the wheel more of the time. But you can only fit so many buttons on the steering wheel before it starts to look like something out of Formula One. Lincoln solved this problem by limiting the number of physical buttons (supplemented by two thumb joysticks), and adding small screens that can display different symbols. This means that you only get the options needed for the specific task you are doing, be it to find a radio station or turn on Adaptive Cruise Control. Lincoln also included shortcuts on the dashboard for driver aids and camera viewing and a button on the top edge of the Steering Wheel controls for voice control – making it easier to find these features quickly.
The aviator is available with a 28-speaker Revel Ultima 3D audio system. Its speakers were strategically located throughout the cockpit (including the Headliner) by Revel engineers, who had some input into the design of the Aviator cabin for this purpose. The results were pretty impressive, although we didn’t have access to uncompressed music files to give it a full test.
The system offers three main levels of immersion (stereo, audience, OnStage), but users can infinitely adjust this using a slider in the touchscreen’s audio menu. Like the rest of Aviator’s Tech, it’s a simple solution to something that can overwhelm new users, though we wish the slider wasn’t buried so deep in the menus. On another musical note, the Lincoln hired the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to create door chimes and other non-emergency signals, making them much less annoying than usual.
The Aviator name says a lot about the way this SUV drives. As a jet airliner, the Aviator is large, powerful, and can cruise along at high speeds without disturbing passengers. But as a jet hits turbulence, the ride can also get rough pretty fast.
Base Aviator models get a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6, which produces 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. That’s the same amount of horsepower as the most powerful Volvo XC90 model (the Swedish car develops more torque), and significantly more than you get in any version of the Cadillac XT6 or Audi Q7. Power is sent to the rear wheels, or all four, through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Aviator Grand Touring plug-in hybrid ups the ante, adding an electric motor squeezed between the V6 and 10-speed automatic, with power provided by a 13.6-kilowatt-hour battery pack. With 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque, the Grand Touring 2020 beats the 4-hp Chevrolet Corvette, with far more torque than the sports car. Now that’s a hot mess Lincoln.
Without the electric motor, the Twin-Turbo V6 felt plenty quick. Plug-in hybrid Grand Touring were just regular bonkers. It’s hard to believe such a heavy vehicle (Grand Touring tips the scales at 5,673 pounds) can get started so quickly. You can’t even really sense if the power is coming from the electric engine of the petrol V6, it all blends together into insistent forward motion. The V6 also sounded nice, but that’s partly due to artificial enhancement.
It’s a pity that the chassis can’t use all that power. The aviator never stops feeling like a big, heavy vehicle in the corners. Combine clumsy handling with power on tap and it’s easy to get in trouble quickly. Lincoln did not design the Aviator to be a Porsche Cayenne competitor, so that is to be expected. Our route consisted mainly of winding roads; We feel that the Aviator would have been more at home on the highway.
Our test cars had the optional adaptive air suspension, which is a step up in refinement from previous Lincoln systems. The aviator can scan the road ahead for imperfections and adjust the suspension accordingly or attach the damper to a particular wheel to keep it from dropping all the way into a pothole. But that tech was negated by our Black Label test car’s 22-inch wheels, which created an uncomfortable ride, as well as lots of tire noise. Our Grand Touring plug-in hybrid, which had 21-inch wheels, was much more civilized.
The practical stuff
The EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2020 Lincoln Aviator petrol are 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city, 26 mpg Highway) with rear-wheel drive, and 20 mpg combined (17 mpg city, 24 mpg Highway) with all-wheel drive. It’s about the same as a Cadillac XT6, but the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 perform better.
EPA has not released fuel-economy or electric range ratings for the Aviator Grand Touring, but we do not expect to match the T8 “twin Engine” plug-in hybrid version of the XC90, due to Lincoln’s larger internal combustion engine and overall emphasis on power. Lincoln expects a full charge to take two to three hours using a 240-volt level 2 source. It is the fastest option, as Lincoln does not offer DC fast charging.
The airplane comes standard with the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Bundle of driver aids, including autonomous emergency braking, Lane Keep Assist, blind spot monitoring and a driver’s attention meter. The optional Co-Pilot360 plus package adds adaptive cruise control (with stop-and-go functionality and traffic sign recognition), a 360-degree camera system, reverse autonomous braking and Active Park Assist plus, which can control the car in parallel or reverse parking spaces .
Lincoln offers a four-year, 50,000-mile, limited warranty and six-year, 70,000-mile, Powertrain Control warranty. Owners can also have the dealer pick up their cars for scheduled maintenance, and drop them off when the work is done. Because the Aviator is a new model, it is difficult to predict reliability. Crash test ratings from the Highway Safety Insurance Institute (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are not available at this time.
How DT would configure this car
We start with a Grand Touring plug-in hybrid, which comes standard with all wheel drive (gasoline models come standard with rear wheel drive). We would consider the black label trim level for its upgraded interior materials, but only if we could drop 22-inch wheels to avoid run quality.
We will add the dynamic handling package for adaptive suspension and the luxury package for the 30-way adjustable front seats and 28-speaker Revel Ultima sound system. We will also upgrade from the standard Lincoln Co-Pilot360 setup to co-Pilot360 plus to get Adaptive Cruise Control. Lincoln did not have pricing for individual options available at the time of publication, but we expect to add up to a very expensive SUV.
Summary 2020 Lincoln Aviator
Navigator and Continental set a firm foundation, but Aviator really lifts Lincoln (no pun intended) back into the line of relevant luxury brands. SUVs are Red Hot, so Lincoln could have called this one in and probably still sold lots of cars. Instead, Lincoln provided a new and different take on a well-used formula. The Aviator is not just another SUV, it is clearly Lincoln and shows that its creators put a lot of effort into it. That’s what sets good cars apart from Rans too.