After five years of offering a single sport utility vehicle, the full-size Navigator, Lincoln added a smaller SUV to its 2003-model-year lineup. Related to the midsize Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer, the Aviator bears a distinct resemblance to the Navigator.
For 2005, the Aviator lineup has been simplified. Last year's Luxury series has gained the equipment previously restricted to the Ultimate series, which has been dropped. The grille has been modified, and new exterior colors and one new interior color are available.
All Aviators now come equipped with Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic stability system and Roll Stability Control. Seven-spoke, 17-inch aluminum wheels are now standard.
Other standard equipment includes a tire-pressure monitor and rear parking assist. Built with body-on-frame construction, the Aviator has a fully independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering.
The Aviator shares its basic styling with other Lincoln sedans and SUVs. It flaunts a large grille with new chrome surround and slots, flanked by large clear-lens headlights. Round fog lamps are built into the front bumper fascia.
Many chassis parts, including an extra-thick windshield, were specially fabricated to keep noise and vibration levels down. The Aviator has a two-piece liftgate with flip-up rear glass.
Built on a 113.7-inch wheelbase, the Aviator stretches 193.3 inches long overall and stands 71.9 inches tall. Integrated running boards are standard.
Either a three-place bench or bucket seats may 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 and a second-row center console are installed. The third-row seat folds flat into the floor. Cargo space totals 78.3 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded.
An analog clock sits on the dashboard. Interior styling cues include the use of satin nickel finish, American burl walnut wood and premium leather upholstery.
All Aviators have power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals. Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, power heated mirrors, power lumbar adjustment, a cassette/CD stereo and keyless entry. A DVD-based navigation system with an in-dash six-CD changer is included in Elite option packages.
A backseat DVD-based entertainment system, heated and cooled front seats, and an Audiophile six-CD changer are also optional.
Under the Hood
Lincoln's 4.6-liter V-8 generates 302 horsepower and 300 pounds-feet of torque; it drives a five-speed-automatic transmission. Towing capacity with all-wheel drive is 7,100 pounds. Aviators also are offered with rear-wheel drive.
In addition to all-disc antilock brakes, the Aviator features Ford's Safety Canopy, which deploys side curtain-type airbags during rollovers and side-impact collisions. The AdvanceTrac system includes Roll Stability Control.