CHATHAM, Mass. – Lincoln’s engineers let aeronautics inspire them when they designed the all-new 2020 Aviator, the first three-row mid-size SUV offered by Ford’s luxury brand.
According to the company: “The connotations of flight are intrinsic in the strong front and tapering rear of the vehicle, creating a distinct aerofoil analogy,” but to me the feeling produced by the quiet, SPACIOUS cabin filled with technology is one of a modern, sleek widebody jet.
And like a jet, the 2020 Black Label Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring we piloted was powerful – nearly 500-horsepower powerful thanks to the plug-in hybrid power train combination of a twin-turbocharged V6 gasoline-fueled engine coupled to a 75kW electric motor. Total output: 494 horses and 630 pounds-feet of torque.
In the past, power like that would have resulted in single-digit fuel-economy numbers, but the hybrid Aviator averaged a resounding 25.4 miles per gallon during our week. I drove the Aviator without thinking about mileage, which makes this result even more impressive.
Filling out the performance pieces are all-wheel drive (AWD), air-glide suspension system, traction control, 10-speed automatic transmission, 21-inch aluminum wheels shod with 275/45R21 tires and four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock system (ABS).
The Air Glide Suspension raises the Aviator to its highest position for better capability in the Deep Conditions mode; when driven at speeds above 70 mph, it lowers to Aero Height, offering improved performance.
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In addition, thanks to Lincoln Drive Modes the driver can customize the driving experience. The modes are Normal, Conserve, Excite, Slippery and Deep Conditions. Each is fully integrated – drivers simply select the mode, and Aviator takes care of the rest. Aviator Grand Touring includes two additional modes:
• Preserve EV recharges and saves battery power for a later time, while continuing to use both engine and motor to deliver the full performance drivers expect; the high-voltage battery can be recharged up to 75 percent while driving in this mode.
• Pure EV is designed to keep the driver in all-electric mode in most conditions; should demand exceed electric capability, the driver receives a prompt to allow the gas engine to engage.
I primarily used the Normal setting which was a nice balance between performance and efficiency.
The Aviator is not a performance car per se – it is a quiet, serene vehicle capable of moving up to six people (the third row has legitimate room for two real people for a reasonable period of time) and their gear. Technology helps make the process more comfortable, safer and satisfying – especially on longer drives – than what is common in this segment of the market.
Advanced driver assist systems galore
Technology has taken a lot of the mundane operations out of flying a modern plane, making the overall experience safer for the pilot, passengers and others in the air and on the ground. The same is true of today’s more advance automobiles thanks to ever improving advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).
The Aviator Grand Touring possessed virtually all of the ADAS and safety features available in today’s auto world, with most being part of either the standard Lincoln Co-Pilot360™ or optional Co-Pilot360™ Plus packages.
Co-Pilot360™ brings Pre-Collision Assist with automatic emergency braking (AEB), Blind Spot Detection with Cross-Traffic Alert, a Lane-Keeping System, rear backup camera and auto high-beam headlamps.
The Plus package adds:
– Adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, which guides Aviator using stop-and-go, lane-centering technology and speed sign recognition to scan speed limit signs along the roadway, adjusting speed based on the information obtained.
– Evasive steering assist offering assistance to the driver to help avoid a collision with a slower or stopped vehicle ahead; it provides additional steering support when a collision cannot be avoided by braking alone.
– Reverse brake assist which can help stop the vehicle when backing up if Aviator’s integrated rear sensors detect an obstacle at the rear.
– Active park assist plus removes the stress from parking by taking over steering, shifting, braking and acceleration functions with the touch of a button to navigate getting in and out of parallel and perpendicular parking spaces with ease.
There was also a 360° camera and tire-pressure monitoring system.
Safety systems, of course mean airbags. The Aviator Grand Touring includes Lincoln’s Personal Safety System™ with dual-stage front airbags, front-seat mounted side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags and the Safety Canopy® system side curtain airbags. Should an accident occur, Lincoln’s SOS Post-Crash Alert System™ contacts authorities.
Continuing the aviation theme, the best head-up display (HUD) I’ve experienced allows the driver to keep his/her eyes on the road and still easily monitor vehicle speed, outside temperature, fuel range, time, speed limit and, if the navigation system is in use, driving instructions.
And, unlike most of the HUDs experienced in the last year, the Aviator’s is clearly visible even when I was wearing sunglasses! Generally, sunglasses either dimmed a HUD to near invisibility or made it completely invisible. The beauty of an effective HUD means reduced driver distraction which means increased operated safety.
A sanctuary of comfort and convenience
The weather last week on Cape Cod turned hot and humid. Summer traffic intensified. This was the perfect time to cruise the Cape in the Aviator. Perfect because the easily regulated (by both conventional controls and the 10-inch color touch screen) quad-zone climate control system keeps the cabin temperature just right. And the 30-way electrically adjusted front seats – which like the second row are heated and ventilated – made it possible to find a comfortable, supportive seating position. The driver can further tailor his/her driving position thanks to the electrically adjusted (and heated) leather wrapped steering wheel.
That multimedia screen is also centerpiece for Lincoln’s Sync® 3 infotainment system consisting of AM/FM/HD radio/SiriuisXM satellite radio/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/streaming audio, and voice-activated navigation with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link®. Everything plays through the 28-speaker Revel® Ultima 3D Audio System.
Of course, connectivity plays a part in this technological environment, so this Aviator comes standard with Lincoln Connect™ 4G LTE embedded modem with WiFi hotspot capability. Helping keep everyone’s electronic devices charged are four USB ports as well as two 12-volt and one 110-volt outlet as well as a wireless-charging pad for compatible mobile devices.
There are so many features included in the 2020 Black Label Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Simply, this is a truly luxurious mid-size SUV, comprehensively equipped, able to compete with – and in ways eclipse – domestic and international competition.
The five levels of Aviators begin with the $51,100 Standard, followed by the $56,900 Reserve, the $68,800 Grand Touring (plug-in hybrid), the $77,695 Black Label and the comprehensively equipped $87,800 Black Label Grand Touring like we drove.
These are not inexpensive vehicles, but they are not ordinary SUVs. These are technologically superior, comfortable, safe and luxurious. Definitely worth a look if a spacious, luxury mid-size SUV is in your future.