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2020 Lincoln Aviator SUV raises the bar for luxury, features

Detroit Free Press logo Detroit Free Press 8/20/2019 Mark Phelan
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YOUNTVILLE, Calif.— Lincoln raises the bar for three-row luxury SUVs — particularly Cadillac’s new XT6 — with the 2020 Aviator, a radically new, luxurious and advanced vehicle that recycles a name from the brand’s past.

The Aviator promises to become a mainstay of Lincoln’s model line, attracting new customers and raising the brand’s status. It complements the bigger Navigator with more maneuverability and a high-performance model while retaining the Nav’s emphasis on interior luxury and comfort.

a car parked in front of a house: The 2020 Lincoln Aviator SUV goes on sale summer 2019. © Mark Phelan The 2020 Lincoln Aviator SUV goes on sale summer 2019.

Lincoln considers the Aviator’s other main competitors to be luxury six- or seven-seat SUVs priced under $70,000. That includes popular vehicles like the Acura MD-X, Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX 350L and Volvo XC90.

Aviator prices start at $51,100 for a rear-wheel-drive model. All-wheel-drive Aviators start at $53,600. All Aviators except the high-performance hybrid Grand Touring model come with a 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. Prices for the Grand Touring, which only comes with AWD and a duo of the gasoline V6 and an electric motor producing a total of 494 hp, start at $68,800.

I recently spent a day driving Aviators through wine country along the twisting hillside roads and highways of Napa County, just north of San Francisco. In exchange for the early access, I agreed not to write about the Grand Touring performance hybrid until Aug. 22 but I can tell you all about the sporty gas-only model now.

Navigator luxury and looks in a convenient size

The Aviator rides on a brand-new architecture it shares with the Ford Explorer. Both vehicles are built in Chicago.

a desk with a computer on a table: The 2020 Lincoln Aviator's Optional 30-way power seats. © Mark Phelan The 2020 Lincoln Aviator's Optional 30-way power seats.

The Aviator’s 199.3-inch length is greater than all the competitors but the Q7 and QX60, which are 0.3 and 0.8 inches longer, respectively. The passenger compartment has plenty of room, including adult-scaled headroom in the second and third rows of seats. Cargo space behind the third row tops all the competitors I’ve named.

The front seat has loads of passenger space; a roomy center console for cups, phones and other gear; easy-to-use controls and a 10.1-inch touch screen.

Advanced features include Lincoln’s new “phone as a key” feature, which allows your iPhone to replace the key fob.

More: iPhone is all you need to start, and drive, the 2020 Lincoln Aviator

I drove an all-wheel-drive Black Label with fancy 30-way adjustable seats, 28-speaker Revel audio and white leather upholstery perforated in a lacy filigree. It stickered at $77,685, excluding destination charges.

a close up of a car: A 28-speaker Revel audio system is available in the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. © Mark Phelan A 28-speaker Revel audio system is available in the 2020 Lincoln Aviator.

The gasoline-power Aviator, including the Black Label is on sale now. The hybrid Grand Touring should arrive at dealerships this fall.

Available features

  • Phone as a Key
  • Predictive adaptive suspension
  • Air springs
  • Adjustable ride for easy access and aerodynamics
  • 28-speaker Revel 3D audio
  • Second-row bench or captain’s seats
  • Hand- and foot-free automatic parking
  • Four-zone climate control: driver, passenger, second row, rear seat
  • 6,700-pound towing capacity
  • Lane centering
  • Reverse automatic braking
  • Blind spot alert
  • Automatic high beams

Driving impressions

The twin-turbo 3.0L V6 delivers plenty of power for confident acceleration around town and on country roads. The 10-speed automatic transmission  delivers, quick, smooth shifts.

The gas pedal felt a little touchy to me in sport mode, but I suspect I’d get used to it in a day or two.

a car engine: The Aviator's 3.0L twin-turbo V6 produces 400 horsepower. © Mark Phelan The Aviator's 3.0L twin-turbo V6 produces 400 horsepower.

My Aviator had the optional adaptive suspension, which combines air springs with forward facing cameras that see bumps and potholes coming and adjusts ride before you hit them. The result is a smooth and comfortable ride. The chassis remained stable and level in enthusiastic driving on winding mountain roads.

The Aviator’s wheelbase is longer than any of its competitors’ — a whopping 9.3 inches, in the case of the Lexus RX 350L. That pushes the wheels farther out for good maneuverability and steering response.

The Aviator stands a good chance of becoming the best three-row luxury SUV in its price class. The power and fuel efficiency of the Grand Touring performance hybrid I’ll write about Aug. 22 could be the deciding factor.

2020 Lincoln Aviator SUV at a glance

Price range: $51,100-68,800 (excluding destination charges)

SUV with three rows of seats

Seven seats standard, six optional

Rear- or all-wheel drive

Built in Chicago

Engine: Twin-turbo 3.0L V6 with 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque

EPA fuel economy rating, AWD models: 17 mpg city/24 highway/20 combined. Regular gasoline.

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 119.1 inches

Length: 199.3 inches

Width: 79.6 inches

Height: 69.6 inches

Base AWD curb weight: 4,892 pounds

Towing capacity: 6,700 pounds

Contact Mark Phelan: 313-222-6731 or mmphelan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 2020 Lincoln Aviator SUV raises the bar for luxury, features

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