The reborn 2020 Aviator has had enough of being simply a wing-man for the Ford Explorer. Mothership Lincoln, with this all-new edition, has gone to great lengths to ensure that Aviator earns its wings.
The first Lincoln Aviator, you may recall, debuted for the 2003 model year as a rebadged Explorer. Alas, it didn't fly with luxury buyers so, after just three years in service, it was relieved of duty in 2005. Two years later, its place in the Lincoln pantheon was filled by the 2007 MKX crossover. No high flyer itself, MKX lasted just over a decade and, after the 2018 model year, found itself X'd off the Lincoln list.
Now Aviator is back, riding an all-new platform, wearing concept-car styling and boasting available technology that not long ago was considered the stuff of science fiction.
Regarding that last bragging point, among Aviator's available perks is a techy little talent called Phone As A Key. With a name that says it all, that ability, made possible with the Lincoln Way app, allows the driver to start the car using a smartphone in lieu of a key.
Other you-can-have-it tech includes the standard Lincoln Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assist features, which includes all the usual suspects like Lane Keep Assist and Auto Emergency Braking. Drivers who want more help can choose the optional Co-Pilot360 Plus, which adds Evasive Steer Assist, Reverse Brake Assist, Active Park Assist and Traffic Jam Assist, that last item blending stop-and-go adaptive cruise control with lane-centering talent and traffic sign recognition.
Another techy touch is a thoroughly modern chassis that boasts some real suspension wizardry. Among its available features is Lincoln's new Adaptive (Air) Suspension with Road Preview, which uses a forward camera to scan the road ahead. That tech allows Aviator to “see” most potholes or uneven stretches of pavement and make suspension adjustments to keep the ride as smooth as possible.
Under the hood, every 2020 Aviator, whether it be a rear- or all-wheel drive model, will feature a 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6 that buttons to a 10-speed automatic transmission. That combo lays down 400 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of torque in the standard-powertrain Aviator.
But there's more.
The Aviator Grand Touring Edition adds to that powertrain plug-in hybrid assist, which, Lincoln concedes, is more concerned with enhancing performance than sipping fuel. Although no number has been quoted for Grand Touring's full-charge electric-drive range, Lincoln does say that this "advanced electrified technology" raises horsepower output to 450 and torque twist to a pavement-powdering 600 lb.-ft. -- performance improvements that can be enjoyed even by owners who never bother to plug in their Grand Touring Aviator.
Inside, the three-row Aviator can be equipped to seat six in a 2/2/2 configuration or seven if a middle bench is specified. And no one inside that cabin will ever be bothered by the plebian sound of buzzers, bells or whistles as vehicle alerts. Lincoln hired the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to record musical alerts for 25 different notifications. So even if things get unpleasant, the alert certainly will be delightful.
And speaking of pleasant sounds, Aviator buyers can fill the cabin with music via an optional 28-speaker Revel Ultima 3D Audio System that's said to recreate authentic concert hall sound via 28 speakers. This system even has speakers in the headliner, fer cryin' out loud.
Complementing Aviator's sharply sculpted floating-roof exterior design -- a look enabled by blacked out roof pillars -- are a host of available interior treatments, including Lincoln's Black Label cabin themes of "Chalet," "Destination" and "Flight," each boasting its own color and trim combinations.
Unveiled last month at the L.A. Auto Show, Aviator will arrive in production form in Lincoln showrooms this summer.
No pricing yet.
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This article originally ran on stltoday.com.