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2020 Lincoln Aviator Video: A True Luxury SUV, Depending on Where You Sit

lincoln aviator 2020 04 angle  exterior  grey  rear jpg 2020 Lincoln Aviator | Cars.com photo by Mike Hanley

Lincoln is in the midst of a product renaissance with models like the well-received Navigator full-size luxury SUV, and next up is the all-new 2020 Aviator. It’s a mid-size, three-row luxury SUV designed to compete against models like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. We went to Napa Valley in California to drive both the gas-only and plug-in hybrid versions of the Aviator for the first time — and to see if it has what it takes to compete with true luxury SUVs.

Related: 2020 Lincoln Aviator First Drive: A Surprisingly Sporty Luxury SUV

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We spent much of the day driving on winding two-lane roads, and they allowed the Aviator’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 powertrain to shine. The engine makes 400 horsepower and 415 pounds-feet of torque, and it’s really strong. It helped power the Aviator up hills, had good passing power when needed, and it works with a responsive 10-speed automatic transmission that makes smooth, refined shifts.

The plug-in hybrid version of the Aviator is even more powerful, but there are some differences in the driving experience. It’s rated at 494 hp and 630 pounds-feet of torque — so it’s definitely a performance-oriented hybrid — but the drivetrain is not as crisp as the gas-only version. It still works with the 10-speed automatic transmission, but it has an electric motor integrated with it. The hybrid’s brakes also have a different feel: They’re not as linear as the gas-only version’s brakes.

The plug-in hybrid offers a Pure EV mode, which lets you operate the vehicle in electric-only mode, and it will stay in electric-only mode even if you floor the gas pedal, which is different than some other plug-in hybrids. Under moderate acceleration, you’ll get an indicator on the dash asking if you want to switch out of Pure EV mode for greater performance. The plug-in hybrid is estimated at about 18 miles of electric-only range on a full charge and 23 mpg combined, which is a few mpg greater than the gas-only version.

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Both the regular and plug-in hybrid Aviator had Lincoln’s available Air Glide air suspension, and it offers a comfortable ride. At the same time, these vehicles were equipped with 22-inch wheels on the gas model and 21-inch wheels on the plug-in version, and these wheels had low-profile tires that kind of counteract what the air suspension is trying to do.

For more driving impressions as well as what the Aviator offers inside its cabin, watch the full video.

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Photo of Mike Hanley
Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Cars.com Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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