After five years with a single sport utility vehicle, the full-size Navigator, Lincoln added a smaller SUV for the 2003 model year. Related to the midsize Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer, the Aviator resembles the massive Navigator, but it was designed to offer a distinct personality. Developers also sought to minimize vehicle noise and vibration.
Luxury and Ultimate models are offered. For 2004, an AdvanceTrac electronic stability system with Roll Stability Control becomes available, and a tire-pressure monitor is newly standard. The bumpers are designed to align with passenger-car frames for greater compatibility in a crash. Built with body-on-frame construction, the Aviator has a fully independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering.
The Aviator shares its styling with other Lincoln vehicles and includes a large Lincoln signature grille with dark argent vanes flanked by large clear-lens headlights. Round fog lamps are built into the front bumper fascia. Aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires.
Many chassis parts, including an extra-thick 6.2-millimeter windshield, were specially fabricated to keep noise and vibration down. The Aviators back end includes a two-piece liftgate with flip-up rear glass.
The Aviator rides a 113.7-inch wheelbase, stretches 193.3 inches long overall and stands 71.4 inches tall. Running boards are standard. The Ultimate model adds such features as high-intensity-discharge headlights and machined-aluminum wheels; a power moonroof is optional.
Either a bench or bucket seats can be installed in the second row. The Aviator carries seven people when it is equipped with the 40/20/40-split second-row bench seat; six occupants fit inside when twin bucket seats are installed. The second-row console folds forward and a removable cover fits over either the front or rear section. The rear seat folds flat into the floor. Cargo space totals 81.7 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded.
Adjustable brake and accelerator pedals are standard. Options include a backseat video entertainment system and a DVD-based navigation system, which has been upgraded for 2004 with voice activation and includes an in-dash six-CD changer.
The controls appear black in the daytime, and they illuminate at night. An analog clock sits on the dashboard. Interior styling cues include the use of a satin nickel finish, American burl walnut wood and premium leather upholstery.
Both Aviator trims have standard dual-zone air conditioning, power heated mirrors, power lumbar adjustment, a cassette/CD stereo and keyless entry. The Ultimate model adds heated and cooled seats and an Audiophile six-CD changer.
Under the Hood
Lincolns 4.6-liter V-8 engine generates 302 horsepower and 300 pounds-feet of torque; it drives a five-speed-automatic transmission. Towing capacity is 7,300 pounds, which Lincoln calls best in class. The Aviator may be equipped with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
In addition to all-disc antilock brakes, the Aviator features Fords Safety Canopy, which deploys curtain-type airbags during rollovers and side-impact collisions. A sonar-operated Rear Park Assist system warns when the Aviator approaches an obstacle while backing up.