New mid-size Aviator crossover takes flight in LA

Slotting in between Nautilus and Navigator, all-new CUV takes spot of MKT

Published: November 28, 2018, 4:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 2:57 PM

2020 Lincoln Aviator

LOS ANGELES – A new entry in the Lincoln lineup promises to elevate luxury to a new high in the premium mid-size utility segment, as the 2020 Aviator makes its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

This all-new model, which takes over where the MKT left off, slots in between the top-of-the-line Navigator and the recently introduced mid-size Nautilus. Unlike the Nautilus, however, this crossover offers third-row seating on a mid-size platform.

Lincoln president Joy Falotico says the Aviator is appropriately named because Lincoln and its mantra of Quiet Flight “is at a takeoff point for the brand.” She notes the Aviator is not only designed to meet the needs of North American consumers in the high-volume mid-size luxury segment, but it’s also targeted at buyers in China, where such vehicles are also in high demand. “it offers elegance, effortless performance and unparalleled comfort – a true representation of Lincoln’s vision for the future.”

The Aviator will be offered in two levels when it arrives in Canadian showrooms next summer – Select and Reserve – with all-wheel drive standard on all models. Later in the year an additional model will join the lineup, the Grand Touring. It will feature a plug-in hybrid powertrain that combines a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V-6 gas engine with a modular electric motor and a 10-speed automatic transmission, and is expected to produce 450 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. The conventionally powered models will also use the 3.0L twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed SelectShift transmission. In this configuration, the powertrain’s output is expected to be 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.

Drivers will be able to select from five drive mode settings to suit the conditions they’re experiencing, including Normal, Conserve, Excite, Slippery and Deep Conditions. The Grand Touring model will have two additional modes – Pure EV and Preserve EV – to help manage the vehicle’s electric energy.

Lincoln says the Aviator had been designed from the start to accommodate a hybrid electric powertrain, with the battery positioned low under the cabin floor so it wouldn’t infringe on cargo capacity or passenger space. As a result, the cabin is roomy in all three rows of seating and the cargo space, including a large bin below the cargo deck, is impressive.

Expect the Aviator to have a silky-smooth ride – an airglide suspension with preset ride heights replaces the conventional coil spring/strut system. The suspension has a total travel of 80 mm, from it’s low, “kneeling position” that improves access and egress, to a maximum height setting for conditions that require added ground clearance. As well, there’s a new available Lincoln adaptive suspension technology that uses a camera to “preview” or scan the road ahead for potholes, utility covers, speed bumps and other surface imperfections that would affect ride quality, then adjusts the dampening on each wheel to compensate for the bumps.

The Aviator will offer a new upgrade to Lincoln’s Co-Pilot360 suite of standard driver-assist features. Dubbed Co-Pilot306 Plus, it adds a feature to the adaptive cruise control that scans speed limit signs and adjusts the vehicle’s speed accordingly. The package also adds an evasive steering assist that provides additional steering support when a collision is imminent; a reverse backup assist that will stop the vehicle if an obstacle is detected while reversing, and active park assist that will park the Aviator in either a parallel or perpendicular space with the simple touch of a button.

Another new technology being introduced on the Aviator is a system that uses your smartphone as a key. It enables the owner to use a smartphone, through the Lincoln Way app, to lock and unlock the vehicle, open the tailgate and start and drive the car without the presence of the key fob. And don’t worry, security features have been built into the system in case one loses the smartphone.

Inside the Aviator, the use of the premium materials sets the tone for ultimate creature comfort and luxury. The leather used in the cars displayed here appeared to be high grade and supple, while touches such as machine-turned metal accents hinted at the aviation connection.

Front seat occupants can not only enjoy the adjustability of the 30-way power seats included in the available Perfect Position upgrade, but they’ll also appreciate the Active Motion feature that provides improved lumbar support and adjustable soothing massage. The second-row seats are also adjustable, shifting fore and aft as well as sliding well forward to provide easy access to the third row. The second-row seating can be in either a bench or captain’s chairs. Regardless, the seatbacks in both the rear rows fold down for additional cargo space and the flexibility to carry larger items.

A 12.3-inch display screen is the dominant feature on the sweeping instrument panel, while the driver will immediately notice the large, bright head-up display on the windshield once the car is turned on. Lincoln says the display is bright enough to be easily read, even with polarized sunglasses.

A new ergonomically advanced steering wheel now has controls positioned for easier access and distraction-free usage. For example, the voice command button has been moved to the 10 o’clock position on the inner side of the wheel rim and requires only subtle thumb movements to activate.

For added convenience there’s an available wireless phone-charging pad in the centre armrest; multiple power outlets are scattered throughout the cabin and a 4G wireless hotspot capable of handling up to 10 devices is standard.

Audiophiles will truly appreciate the new available Revel Ultima 3D audio system with 28 speakers positioned throughout the cabin, including the headliner, to deliver an authentic surround-sound experience. The standard audio package is impressive, too – a premium Revel system with 14 speakers.

For a unique, added touch, Lincoln has replaced the typical chime alerts with 25 different musical sounds, all provided by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The sounds, a blend of percussion, violin and viola, provide a gentle audio alert for such oversights as an open fuel door or an unlatched seat belt, as well as louder alerts for more critical issues.

For shoppers looking in the premium mid-size crossover segment – and requiring three rows of seating – Lincoln now has a vehicle that fits those needs. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date next summer.