By KEVIN WEAKS
No doubt you’re familiar with those late-night television commercials hawking omelet pans and super adhesives that will let you cut your boat in half and stick it back together (as if you would do that). They all close with, “but wait, there’s more!”
With the 2020 Lincoln Aviator, there really is more. Surprisingly more.
The three-row luxury SUV has advanced technologies that let Aviator kneel to greet you, scan the road ahead for uneven pavement, and even allow you to use your smartphone instead of your key.
“Aviator signals a takeoff point for Lincoln,” puns Joy Falotico, president of The Lincoln Motor Company. “It offers unparalleled elegance combined with effortless performance – a true representation of Lincoln’s vision for the future.”
Aviator does mark the brand’s first midsize three-row SUV, broadening the Lincoln portfolio that will also see the launch of the all-new Corsair this fall. The Aviator replaces the MKT in the Lincoln lineup and is the first model on a new platform that will be shared with the 2020 Ford Explorer.
Offering a profile that vaguely resembles an aircraft wing and based on a rear-wheel-drive architecture, Aviator offers a combination of performance and choice of motivation, with intelligent all-wheel drive available and the option of a gasoline or hybrid powertrain.
A CAR THAT KNEELS AND TURNS ON THE LIGHTS
Lincoln offers a full suite of new technology to make the Aviator even more appealing to folks who might be considering a BMW or Audi or its nearest American competitor, the Cadillac XT6.
Let’s start with adaptive cruise control, which offers lane-centering technology with stop-and-go technology, great for traffic jams.
When it comes to seeing the road ahead, Lincoln has sophisticated front headlamps which read the road ahead and, when sensing a corner, predicts where light is needed, allowing the headlamps to instantly adjust or bend. The beam intensity also adjusts based on speed; at faster speeds, light is directed to the road, while at slower speeds, headlamps adjust to illuminate more areas in front of the vehicle.
And then there is available ambient lighting beneath the doors to greet the driver entering the vehicle. What’s more, Lincoln’s optional Air Glide Suspension automatically lowers the vehicle to make access easier, then rises to meet the road.
Lincoln’s available “Phone As A Key” technology, debuting in the all-new Aviator, is activated using the “Lincoln Way” app that allows owners to lock and unlock, open the liftgate and, most importantly, start and drive the vehicle – all without a traditional key. And you thought your phone was only for taking photos.
Aviator also offers a wealth of driver-assist features, which comes standard with Lincoln’s “Co-Pilot360” upgrade. It provides pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection with cross-traffic alert, a lane-keeping system, rear backup camera and auto high-beam headlamps.
Better than a backseat driver, Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus – an upgrade to the upgrade – adds:
- Adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, which guides Aviator using stop-and-go, lane-centering technology and speed sign recognition to scan speed limit signs along the roadway, adjusting speed based on the information obtained.
- Evasive steering assist that offers assistance to the driver to help avoid a collision with a slower or stopped vehicle ahead; it provides additional steering support when a collision cannot be avoided by braking alone.
- Reverse brake assist that can help stop the vehicle when backing up if Aviator’s integrated rear sensors detect an obstacle at the rear.
- Active park assist-plus to help those of us who still can’t get the hang of parallel parking.
GAS, ELECTRIC — OR BOTH
Aviator offers two powertrains and this is the first time Lincoln has combined a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and advanced electrified hybrid technology which it says is capable of delivering smooth performance and nearly instantaneous torque.
The crossover comes standard with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 producing a healthy 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. The Grand Touring plug-in hybrid is propelled by the same 3.0-liter V-6 mated to a 13.6-kW-hr battery to deliver an eye-opening total combined output of 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque. Both powertrains use a 10-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard on the hybrid, whereas the gas version gets RWD as standard and AWD as an option.
Complementing all of this is an advanced suspension that pairs pothole mitigation and Lincoln-first road preview technology to create a ride that adjusts to nearly any situation, Lincoln says.
CAMERA SEARCHES FOR POTHOLES
Lincoln’s new air suspension and adaptive suspension with road preview are optional in the new Aviator. The air suspension lowers itself when the car is parked for easier access and exit, and when the driver selects the Deep Conditions mode, the suspension automatically raises to its highest setting to provide more ground clearance. The air suspension replaces the coil springs with air springs.
The adaptive suspension with road preview uses a front camera to read the road surface 50 feet ahead, spotting bumps, ruts and potholes and makes changes to the suspension to minimize the impact.
The shifter has been replaced by buttons located on the center console under the air vents, freeing space and providing a clean, crisp layout. The second row is spacious, and there’s a 5-inch touchscreen in the center passengers can use to control the air temperature and fan speed. Captain’s chairs are an option, and they are available with a center console between the two seats that has deep storage and cupholders. USB ports are located under the air vents in the center.
YOU HEAR A SYMPHONY
“With Aviator Grand Touring, we are aiming to set the bar for luxury SUVs,” says John Davis, chief program engineer for Lincoln. “It offers a sanctuary-like cabin and signature drive feel that is uniquely Lincoln.”
The Lincoln Navigator received many accolades for its interior design, and the Aviator will be no different as it plays off of the already successful design of the Navigator with a few key improvements, including – and get a load of this – Lincoln designers worked with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to compose 25 unique sound effects to be used for the door chime and other indicator alerts for the Aviator.
While flying down the road in the Aviator, passengers are entertained by Lincoln’s Revel Ultima 3D audio system, which uses 28 speakers positioned throughout the cabin. The system comes with three listening modes – stereo, audience, and on-stage – and depending on the mode you choose, the speakers give all occupants a different experience.
“Design-wise, it’s one of the best in the segment, both inside and out,” says Motor Trend, “with beautiful materials, an incredible Revel stereo, and an overall sense of pampering for passengers in all rows with 30-way adjustable seats with heat, ventilation, and massage.”
The Aviator starts at $52,195 and is built at Chicago Assembly, sometimes referred to as Torrence Avenue Assembly. It is Ford Motor Company’s oldest continually operated automobile manufacturing plant.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator is available in five trim levels: Standard, Reserve, Black Label, Grand Touring and Grand Touring Black Label. The first three trim levels come with the turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available as an optional upgrade except on the Black Label, which only comes with AWD.
The 2020 Aviator glides into Lincoln’s lineup between the full-size Navigator and the smaller two-row midsize Nautilus. Later this year, Lincoln’s SUV lineup will be rounded out with the all-new Corsair, replacing the previous MKC compact model.
Unlike in the past, when Lincolns were simply fancier Fords, the brand is flying in a new direction to elevate its position in the luxury world.
Contact Kevin Weaks at email@example.com.