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2018 New York International Auto Show: Best in Show

Lincoln must be doing something right. For the second year in a row, we’ve picked one as our Best in Show for the New York International Auto Show. Last year, it was the 2018 Lincoln Navigator SUV; this year, we’re giving the nod to the stunning new 2019 Lincoln Aviator SUV.

Now, this isn’t exactly the final version of the Aviator we’re expecting to see in showrooms next year — it’s being billed as a “production preview” model, meaning it’s a very close look at what’s coming to Lincoln dealers, but some of the minor details may change. Cars.com writers Aaron Bragman, Brian Wong and Fred Meier discuss why the Aviator took top honors in New York. 

Related: More 2018 New York Auto Show Coverage

Bragman: If the actual production model is anywhere near as well-executed as this production preview, we’ll be thrilled. From the sleek exterior that has a clear, visible family resemblance to other Lincoln models to the beautifully crafted mid-century modern-inspired interior, Lincoln has produced another stunner. It promises to be powerful, stately, stylish and luxurious — everything we’ve been saying Lincoln should be for decades now. It’s even riding on a rear-wheel-drive platform (as a proper luxury vehicle should). Pull it all together, and it’s another new Lincoln we’re genuinely looking forward to seeing on the streets. 

Wong: One side effect of living in the age of the SUV is that we are inundated with them at auto shows, which makes perfect sense: Automakers should be responsive to what customers are putting their money toward, so no shade there. But what it does is give us SUV fatigue, which is why I found the Aviator so refreshing.

Lincoln locked down all images and information about the Aviator right until it was unveiled, and I understood why when the covers came off — it’s stunning. The styling is immediately recognizable as a Lincoln but still unique to this vehicle, with a fantastically detailed grille and sleek horizontal lines stretching down the sides and rear. Inside, it borrows heavily from the Navigator, using its seats and screens, which we specifically enjoyed about the Navigator. I guess I loved the Aviator because it felt so fresh in an SUV environment that’s gotten a little stale.

Meier: Creating a striking new SUV without losing the “U” for “utility” is like asking the designer to build a better box — and Lincoln has done it with the Aviator. Among all the new SUVs at this show, this one soars for surprise and delight. The excellent execution of the overall Navigator family look hits you first, but it just gets better as you take time to appreciate the attention to detail, such as the grille Brian calls out, with its interesting use of negative space.

But what really did it for me is the interior design. The multilayered horizontal look, the details and the trim are truly original, with luxury that’s designed in, not added on. It’s among the very few here that stand out from the crowd (the AMG GT at nearby Mercedes deserves an honorable mention). We can only hope it drives as good as it looks with its new rear-wheel-drive platform. 

Auto history is littered with models that went south between the show and the street, but that didn’t happen with Lincoln’s Navigator, and I have my fingers crossed that the Aviator won’t lose its way.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

 
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