The 2020 Lincoln Aviator is a three-row premium SUV that’s elbowed its way into a market class that includes the A-listers of the luxury world. Does this all-new Lincoln model make an elegant first impression, or is it a party crasher that’s out of its depth? As we discovered during a recent test drive, the Aviator quickly proves it’s the real deal.
By Nick KurczewskiOctober 4, 2019
From a standard engine with 400 horsepower to a richly appointed cabin with quality materials, the Aviator coddles the driver and passengers alike. Want a large and simple-to-use multimedia touchscreen? The Aviator has one. Want a long list of safety features? The Aviator ticks off plenty of those, too.
Most surprising was how fun to drive the Aviator wound up being, especially when we discovered the aptly named “Excite” drive mode. Yes, this Lincoln is not only cushy and comfy over long drives — it also refuses to wilt when the road gets twisty. So please, dispel any notions this is nothing but a high-riding 1978 Town Car.
For a complete take on our Aviator impressions, be sure to read the review by Cars.com’s Mike Hanley via the related link above. Ain’t nobody got time for that? Get a quicker rundown on Lincoln’s new three-row SUV below.
Here are nine things we like (and four things that make ya go “meh”) about the 2020 Lincoln Aviator:
Things We Like
1. Standard Engine Piles on the Power
Powering the Aviator is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that delivers a total of 400 hp. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is available on the Standard and Reserve trim levels, and standard on the Grand Touring and range-topping Black Label models. Rest assured, this motor provides plenty of acceleration whenever you need it.
2. Suave Automatic Transmission
Coupled to the turbo six is a 10-speed automatic transmission. During our test drive, we praised this gearbox for its refinement and how it “always seemed to be in the right gear for the driving situation.”
3. Unassumingly Sporty
The attribute of sportiness in this big three-row SUV came as a surprise to us, too. We appreciated how the entire powertrain works in harmony, making the Aviator feel like it was engineered by a single team as opposed to multiple siloed divisions within Lincoln.
4. Drive Modes That ‘Excite’
The drive mode selector has five settings for your road trips: Normal, Conserve, Excite, Slippery and Deep Conditions. (OK, that last one sounds like it’s more for an existential journey than a road trip, so perhaps Lincoln put that one in there for Matthew McConaughey.) During our drive, we reveled in Excite mode, which sharpened the dynamics and provided actual “grin-inducing” driving.
5. A No-Excuses Luxury Interior
Lincoln has been on a roll when it comes to crafting impressive interiors across its range of vehicles, and the Ford luxury brand keeps on a’rollin’ with the Aviator. The cabin has a high-quality feel, and there are classy soft-touch surfaces throughout.
6. Safety Features Aplenty
Standard safety equipment on the Aviator includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. You can add the optional Co-Pilot 360 Plus Package, which includes add-ons like a self-parking system, adaptive cruise control and reverse automatic braking, to name a few.
7. Baby Navigator Exterior
The exterior borrows heavily from the full-size Navigator SUV, not to mention the Continental sedan that ushered in the brand’s latest design. It works very well on the proportions of the Aviator. This is a handsome SUV that stands out from the crowd.
8. Cadillac-Competitive Fuel Economy
Despite having considerably more power than crosstown GM-manufactured rival the 2020 Cadillac XT6, the Aviator scores better mpg figures than the Caddy. In rear-wheel-drive format, the Aviator posts EPA numbers of 18/26/21 mpg city/highway/combined. Adding all-wheel drive nudges combined fuel economy down to 20 mpg, which bests the front-drive and beats the all-wheel-drive versions of the XT6.
9. Tech Touches
The Aviator we tested in Black Label trim came with features like a clear and wide head-up display and an entirely digital instrument panel, not to mention a large 10.1-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system.
More From Cars.com:
- 2020 Lincoln Aviator: Everything You Need to Know
- 2020 Lincoln Aviator Video: A True Luxury SUV, Depending on Where You Sit
- 2020 Lincoln Aviator Plug-In Hybrid First Drive: Still Getting Its Wings
- Which Cars Have Apple CarPlay in 2019?
- More Powerful 2020 Lincoln Aviator Also Nips Cadillac XT6 Rival in MPG
Things We Don’t
1. Don’t Expect a Bargain
Lincoln’s marketing suggests there are few excuses to be made when it comes to choosing the Aviator over rivals, especially those from German luxury brands — and its pricing reflects this confidence. The base model starting at $52,195, including a $1,095 destination charge, while the Black Label trim’s sticker price soars beyond $80,000. Will luxury buyers be OK with spending Mercedes-Benz or BMW levels of cash on a Lincoln SUV?
2. Air Suspension Only Available With Super-Size Wheels
An air suspension is usually good for providing a smooth and flowing ride. Problem is, the Aviator pairs 22-inch alloy wheels with its air-suspension system. Those super-size wheels transmit more noise and bumps than you might expect; doesn’t that defeat (or, perhaps in this case deflate) the air suspension’s purpose?
3. Seats Adjust 30 Ways From Sunday (Good God!)
Yes, the 30-way power adjustable front seats in the Aviator sound quite impressive. Lincoln even refined the available massage functions, for goodness’ sake. But during our time with the Aviator, the front- and second-row captain’s chairs felt too narrow. Finding the perfect comfort spot took also took lots of fiddling with the numerous seat adjustments.
4. Cramped Third Row
It’s nice having the flexibility of third-row seating, but adults relegated to the back of the Aviator will feel the pinch. Legroom is tight for grown-ups, so it’s best to reserve the third row for kids.
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