Driven! 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring Plug-in Hybrid SUV Review

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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Every 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring comes equipped with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain that produces 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque, provides an estimated 18 miles of pure electric range, and gets a projected 23 mpg in combined driving when used in gasoline-electric hybrid mode. The price for all that in a new Aviator starts at just under $70,000. As tested in Black Label trim, the price came to almost $89,000.

At Lincoln’s invitation, I flew to California’s Napa Valley to drive the Aviator Grand Touring. The first part of the route was mostly downhill, ensuring maximum driving distance using nothing but the 75-kW electric motor and 13.6-kWh battery pack. In Pure EV driving mode, the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 won’t fire up, but in Normal mode, it kicks in to assist when necessary. A Preserve EV mode holds the battery charge for use at a later time.

A first step toward a greener tomorrow

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The Aviator Grand Touring uses a twin-turbocharged V6, a 10-speed automatic transmission, an electric motor, and a battery to deliver up to 18 miles of electric driving range and an estimated 23 mpg in combined driving. Photo (c) Christian Wardlaw

How did the Aviator Grand Touring perform? My journey began with 14 miles of estimated driving range. When the battery reached its minimum state of charge, I’d traveled 21.6 miles, with 17.9 of those miles purely on electricity. Over this distance, the SUV averaged 80.6 MPGe. But remember, most of these miles involved driving down hills rather than up them.

After I recorded this data, I reset the trip odometer to see if the Aviator Grand Touring could meet the expected 23 mpg in combined driving. Another 69.3 miles later, driven primarily in Normal mode instead of Conserve or Excite, it had averaged 19.8 mpg.

While that seems disappointing, it is a big improvement over a standard Aviator tested under similar driving conditions. That version of the SUV returned 15.9 mpg. Your results, as always, may vary.

Know, however, that aside from tire roar coming from the Black Label’s huge 22-inch wheels and tires on rougher pavement, and a hint of wind noise at speeds of more than 70 mph, this is a quick and quiet luxury SUV that is genuinely enjoyable to drive.

Equipped with active steering and Lincoln’s Air Glide adaptive suspension, handling impresses. At the same time, the regenerative brakes feel absolutely natural underfoot. The ride gets a little busy due to the oversized wheels, but the suspension does a good job of filtering much of the road surface.

Comfortable, quiet, and technologically advanced

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Shown here with the Chalet design theme, the Aviator Grand Touring Black Label is downright luxurious, as it should be for almost $90,000. Photo (c) Christian Wardlaw

In Black Label trim, the Aviator Grand Touring is downright sumptuous. The driver and front passenger enjoy 30-way power-adjustable seats with heating, ventilation, and massage. They’re wrapped in premium leather, and the headliner is covered in simulated suede.

Second-row captain’s chairs are standard, with a bench seat available. The seats offer impressive thigh support, and by moving them forward a bit you can squeeze six adults into the SUV. Cargo space ranges from 18.3 cubic feet behind the third-row seat to a maximum of 77.7 cubic feet.

Loaded with technology, the Aviator Grand Touring meets most expectations of modern luxury SUV buyers. The voice recognition system isn’t as capable as your smartphone’s voice assistant, though, and sometimes the Sync 3 infotainment system takes its time responding to input. The Phone As A Key technology isn’t as simple as just carrying the key fob around, either. On a positive note, the optional head-up display is legible while wearing polarized sunglasses.

Lincoln Co-Pilot 360 Plus driving assistance and collision avoidance technologies work with accuracy and refinement. The lane centering system sometimes failed to recognize that my hands were still on the wheel, though. Also, in case of a medical emergency, the adaptive cruise will slow and stop the SUV in the lane of travel, but won’t activate the hazard flashers or place a call to 911 for assistance.

Style, class, and sophistication

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Cargo space measures 18.3 cubic feet behind the third-row seat, 41.7 cubic feet behind the second-row seats, and 77.7 cubic feet as a maximum. Photo (c) Christian Wardlaw

Because it’s a plug-in hybrid instead of a pure electric, the 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring allows luxury SUV buyers to make short trips purely on electricity while improving overall fuel economy. Best of all, there is no need to worry about finding an open charging station on longer trips.

While Lincoln needs to improve some aspects of the vehicle, it is an impressive effort overall. And the Black Label version will wow buyers in the segment with style, class, and sophistication.

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About the Author

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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