Forget everything you might know about the Lincoln Aviator nameplate. The badge-engineered Ford Explorer of the early 2000s is a distant – and not altogether pleasant – memory now that Lincoln has unveiled its new 2020 Aviator at the Los Angeles Auto Show at the end of 2018.
Slotted in below the full-size Navigator SUV and above the Nautilus crossover in Lincoln’s lineup, the 7-passenger Aviator features crisp styling and an available plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain. The PHEV version of the new luxury SUV is officially referred to as the Aviator Grand Touring.
The new Aviator rides on the same modular vehicle platform as the 2020 Ford Explorer, but the similarities end there. The Aviator’s body, interior, and PHEV powertrain are unique to Lincoln, and the SUV wears handsome, albeit conservative, styling that presents itself as a tapered, more svelte version of the aesthetic Lincoln uses on its elegant, gargantuan Navigator. Large, turbine-like wheels complete a look that can now be regarded as pure Lincoln.
Lincoln Builds a World Class PHEV SUV
Simplicity and horizontal lines describe the Aviator’s clutter-free cockpit, which can be outfitted in rich, antique luggage-inspired brown leather. Optional Perfect Position 30-way power-adjustable front seats include a massage feature.
The centerpiece of the dashboard is a large, 12.3-inch center stack touchscreen infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration technologies. Brush-circle metal trim, reminiscent of early aircraft design, is available for the lower portion of the instrument panel.
A 400-horsepower, twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V6 engine backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission is standard in the Aviator, while Grand Touring trim adds a plug-in hybrid system to the base engine. In terms of total output, Lincoln says the Grand Touring’s PHEV powertrain will crank out 450 hp and 600 lb.-ft. of torque.
Drive modes include a pure electric setting and a “Preserve EV” setting designed to prolong battery charge. Fuel economy figures aren’t yet available, and Lincoln hasn’t divulged any details about electric driving range or how long it will take to recharge the SUV.
Grand Touring With High Technology
As with any modern luxury vehicle, the new Aviator is loaded with technology. For example, a special app will allow the driver to use a smartphone to unlock the vehicle, as well as open the tailgate and start the engine remotely.
Technology is used to improve the SUV’s ride and handling, too. An adaptive suspension system scans the road ahead, adjusting the suspension to account for immediate surface conditions. The suspension can also raise and lower automatically, making it easier to load people and cargo and also to travel through snow using what Lincoln calls a “Deep Condition” mode. The Aviator Grand Touring also lowers at speeds over 70 mph in order to reduce the vehicle’s aerodynamic profile and improve efficiency.
Other technology highlights include:
- Traffic Jam Assist that adapts cruise control speeds to stop-and-go traffic
- Evasive Steering Assist that will boost steering to help the driver avoid hitting a slow or stopped vehicle ahead
- Reverse Brake Assist that helps the driver to avoid hitting obstacles while backing up
- Active Park Assist that takes the reins in difficult perpendicular and parallel parking situations
Lincoln Leapfrogs Some Luxury Competitors
Vehicles with electrified drivetrains are poised to become a more significant market force in the years to come, and luxury automakers like BMW, Jaguar, and Volvo have already gotten in on the game. It’s little wonder that Lincoln introduced a green luxury performance machine of its own. As technology evolves over the next few years, automakers will either lead, keep up, or get left behind.
With the new 2020 Aviator Grand Touring plug-in hybrid, Lincoln intends to stay in the running.