2018 Los Angeles Auto Show – Lincoln Reveals All-New 2020 Aviator Midsize SUV
Three-Row Crossover Offers an Estimated 450 hp and 650 lb-ft (!) of Torque
When we first saw the concept in April at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, we fell in love with the Lincoln Aviator, believed to be a preview of a 2020 model. Today, however, the company showed off the production SUV at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, and we’re glad to see little has changed.
You shouldn’t be terribly surprised to see the Aviator, returning after a 15-year hiatus, make the transition from concept to production mostly unscathed—Lincoln’s New York debut looked remarkably showroom-ready. That’s wonderful for the brand, as the Aviator is fresh and modern, inside and out.
Skin-DeepFeaturing a notched, chrome-trimmed grille shell and swept-back headlamps, the Aviator is unmistakably related to the large-and-in-charge Navigator. The two also share a floating roof design with blacked-out pillars. Similarities end there, however. The Aviator features a much more avant-garde design, interpreting current Lincoln design cues in a new way. For example, the grille’s texture is the inverse of the Navigator’s, with the Lincoln badge popping through in little chrome divots (the Navigator uses badge-shaped cutouts). The headlights are similarly refined, situated slightly higher on the front end relative to the grille for a unique look.
The side profile is gorgeous, boasting simple surfacing limited to a slight fuselage shape in the lower body and a sharp shoulder crease originating from the hood’s clamshell-style shutline. Wraparound front and rear taillights give the Aviator an aerodynamic, windswept look, compounded by the gently sloping roofline that tapers to the rear.
The rear is dominated by the full-width taillight panel, a current styling cue that hearkens to some of Lincoln’s heritage models like the long-running Town Car and Mark VII LSC. A chrome strip running along the rear bumper recalls similar pieces of brightwork found on the front fascia and side profile. And quad exhaust pipes give the Aviator a sporty vibe.
The Goods to Back It UpThe 2020 Lincoln Aviator will come standard with a twin-turbocharged 3.0L V-6 producing 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, this engine—which is also available in the Continental luxury sedan—should give the midsize SUV impressive performance.
Also impressive is the Aviator’s new modular platform. In the Aviator’s case, the platform is biased toward rear-wheel drive, though the Lincoln SUV will be available with all-wheel drive as an option. That means the Aviator will likely have much more exciting dynamics than comparable front-drive–biased luxury crossovers like the Infiniti QX60 or Lexus RX. The platform will also be shared with Ford’s upcoming Explorer, expected for 2020.
In addition to its stiff, sporty new bones, the 2020 Aviator will also give Lincoln its first-ever plug-in hybrid powertrain, the so-called Grand Touring model. Electric optimization for the 3.0L engine is expected to yield even more power and torque: an estimated 450 hp and 600 lb-ft! If Lincoln’s guess is accurate, that will make the Aviator plug-in the torquiest, twistiest vehicle ever offered by the luxury automaker.
Under the Aviator’s skin is the available Adaptive Suspension with Road Preview. This sophisticated piece of technology uses a forward-mounted camera to scan the road ahead for imperfections, then adjust the suspension accordingly to smooth out the ride. This kind of technology works to great effect in high-end luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, so we’re excited to sample it in the Lincoln.
Mad Men ModInside, the Aviator looks very much like its concept forebear. Lincoln says the midsize SUV boasts aviation-inspired styling, highlighted by one of the available Black Label styling packages called Flight. This theme makes use of Luggage Tan and Ebony leathers that have been minimally processed to keep them soft and luxurious. There’s also engine-turned brightwork that apes what was found on the instrument panels of early aircraft. Other Black Label options include Chalet (brown and light gray leather and silver-toned wood trim) and Destination (reddish leather and smooth khaya wood trim).
The interior will also get Lincoln’s incredibly comfortable Perfect Position 30-way front seats, available Revel audio with 28 speakers, and three rows of seating—don’t expect adults to fit comfortably in the way-back for long distances, but it should be fine for kids and younger teens.
Interior convenience and safety features abound, thanks to Lincoln Co-Pilot360. This suite of technology includes adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam–easing stop-and-go functionality, Evasive Steer Assist that can actually help avoid obstacles, and Active Park Assist Plus with parallel and perpendicular parking functionality.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator hasn’t yet been given an on-sale date, and certain specifics like official power output, plug-in battery range, towing, and efficiency numbers have yet to be revealed as well. But with its stellar styling, robust standard and optional powertrains, and a comfortable and modern interior, it’s probably not going too far to suggest the Aviator might become one of Lincoln’s most popular models. That’s great news for the company as well as consumers.