Lincoln Motor Company has recently shaken up its lineup of SUVs with new models and naming conventions. At this year's Midwest Automotive Media Association Fall Rally we got the chance to test out the all-new 2020 Lincoln Aviator which has taken the place of the MKT in Lincoln's lineup. Built on the same architecture and platform as the Ford Explorer, the Aviator is a three-row SUV that offers a luxurious interior, handsome exterior and is packed with tech and safety features. We drove the plug-in hybrid Grand Touring model around the streets surrounding the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois to see if its performance lives up to the attractive styling.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator has a bold and striking exterior with aviation-inspired features like a strong, commanding front and tapering rear. The differences between the Grand Touring Hybrid model and the gas versions are subtle such as a "Spirit Blue" Lincoln badge which gives a nod to the color of Lincolns from the 1970s. Other than slightly different grilles on the gas and hybrid models and a charge port on the hybrid, you wouldn't be able to distinguish them. The 2020 Lincoln Aviator stands tall with clean lines inspired by the shape of an aircraft, a wrap-around windshield and a 3D grille with chrome accents.
The Aviator's exterior doesn't stray far from the styling formula of other luxury mid-size SUVs (for example, it bears some resemblance to the Range Rover). Even though its design isn't groundbreaking, the Aviator looks elegant and upscale. We liked that the Grand Touring hybrid looks nearly identical to the gas-only models with just a few special touches to set it apart.
Interior and Tech
We were impressed with the 2020 Lincoln Aviator's interior which looks classic, sophisticated and uncluttered. Lincoln carries the aviation-themed styling inside the cabin with leather-trimmed seats inspired by bomber jackets and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The driver's seat was comfortable and luxurious for our short test drive with excellent cushioning and bolstering. Although the first and second rows offer plentiful space, the third row is tight on legroom for adults and is most suitable for kids. Just like the exterior of the hybrid model is nearly identical to the gas, you'll find the Grand Touring's interior won't force you to compromise on space or comfort. The hybrid model offers as much interior room as the gas model since the battery sits underneath the right passenger seats without taking up valuable real estate.
The tech in the 2020 Aviator Grand Touring is plentiful and user-friendly. The 10.1-inch LCD touchscreen stands out as the focal point in the center stack and we enjoyed the responsive and intuitive Sync 3 infotainment system. The system links up with most major platforms including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Tidal, Amazon Alexa, and Waze. Lincoln's 'Phone As A Key' is another new feature to make the Aviator more convenient. Drivers will be able to lock and unlock the doors, open the liftgate and start the vehicle with their smartphones, all without a physical key.
In addition to the entertainment and convenience tech, the 2020 Lincoln Aviator has no shortage of safety features. Lincoln's CoPilot360 safety suite comes standard with Pre-Collision Assist with automatic emergency braking, Blind Spot Detection with Cross-Traffic Alert, a Lane-Keeping System, rear backup camera and auto high-beam headlamps. Our Grand Touring model came with an upgraded CoPilot360 Plus suite adding Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Reverse Brake Assist and Active Park Assist Plus.
Powertrain and Performance
Not only does the 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring house one of the most powerful engines in the mid-size SUV segment, but it also features technology for optimized handling and ride quality. The gas-only Aviator models are powered by a standard twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, paired with a new 10-speed automatic transmission for 400 horsepower and 415 ft.-lbs. of torque. The Grand Touring hybrid model uses the same V6 engine, but it is paired with an electric motor for a boost in both horsepower and torque (494 combined horsepower and 630 combined ft.-lbs. of torque). The ample power, which rivals the V8 engines of some performance SUVs, made accelerating feel effortless.
Although our time in the Aviator was limited, we were able to experience the benefits of Lincoln's adaptive suspension with Road Preview. This new system features 12 sensors that constantly monitor the road with a forward-facing camera and automatically adjust for road conditions. For example, it can reduce the impact of potholes by stiffening the shock absorbers. Thanks to this advanced suspension technology, our ride was comfortable and smooth.
Built on a rear-wheel-drive platform but with standard all-wheel-drive in the Grand Touring models, the Aviator offers the ideal formula for handling, balance, and grip. A variety of drive modes let you choose from Normal, Conserve, Excite, Slippery, and Deep Conditions. The Grand Touring model also comes with two additional modes including Pure EV which allows for all-electric driving or Preserve EV which saves the battery for later and charges it up to 75% while you drive. The all-new 2020 Lincoln Aviator is an excellent family vehicle thanks to its comfortable interior, premium features, and performance to match. The 2020 Lincoln Aviator gas model starts at $51,100 and the hybrid Grand Touring model starts at $68,800.