Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Lincoln Canada / Calvin Chan
Published: March 28, 2019
NEW YORK CITY - I have fond memories of a childhood road trip that took me from Toronto to Florida in the 2005 Lincoln Aviator. I was barely a teenager yet I still admired its roomy backseats and entertainment screens, which kept me occupied throughout that 24 hour trek south. So you can imagine how nostalgic it was for me when Lincoln announced they were bringing back the Aviator nameplate.
The Aviator is Lincoln’s re-entry back into the heated mid-size luxury segment, and it will slot right in between the Nautilus and Navigator, offering seven-seat three-row capacity, a rear-wheel drive platform, and for the first time in a Lincoln, a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
While Lincoln is keeping fairly hush about the details, we have been given some hints that under the hood will be the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine carried over from the Continental, but with an electric battery. The V6 alone in the Continental produced 400-hp, so we can only imagine that adding the battery will mean even more power. Lincoln also decided that having an electric setup would make their vehicles even quieter and offer smoother rides. They also plan to electrify their entire lineup as well, so expect plug-in and hybrid variants of every model - the Aviator is just the beginning.
Design wise, the Aviator follows the same language as the new Navigator. There is a prominent front grill with a new mesh pattern, as well as a sleek greenhouse and a stretched out roofline that appears somewhat like the Range Rover Velar – and trust me that’s as good of a compliment as it gets. The quarter-circle shaped taillights also look like the Land Rover Discovery’s. And yes, those are 22-inch wheels. Overall, the Aviator carries a refreshing and soft shape that will undoubtedly turn heads and hopefully launch the Lincoln brand back into the spotlight.
The interior is similar to the new Navigator’s as well. There is a beefy two-tone steering wheel with a floating center console. The seats are comfortable, and though the third row seats do appear a little cramped, we won’t be sure until we have a seat in a full production model.
Other new technologies making its way into the Aviator are Phone As A Key, a smartphone application that will allow owners to use their phones as a key to open the vehicles, trunk, and close them as well. That means you can leave your key in the car while you head out for a jog in the woods, or if you want the dealership to pick up your car for service. The front-facing camera on the Aviator also utilizes Lincoln’s new Suspension Preview Technology, which will scan the road ahead for any imperfections and adjust the suspension to soak up the bumps and offer better ride quality.
Pricing has yet to be released but we expect the base Aviator to fall somewhere in between $58-65,000 in Canada.
NEW YORK, March 28, 2018 – Aviator glides into New York this week, offering a preview of The Lincoln Motor Company’s newest vehicle along with a glimpse into the brand’s future, which is moving toward a broader portfolio of utilities and electrification in conjunction with effortless services.
As more consumers choose the spaciousness and capability of SUVs, Lincoln unveils Aviator, a distinctive three-row plug-in hybrid production preview. The “teaser” model serves to preview the direction Lincoln plans to take with its newest SUV when the production model goes on sale next year.
“The Lincoln Navigator continues to turn heads and bring new clients to the brand,” says Joy Falotico, president, The Lincoln Motor Company. “We believe Aviator’s elegant design, state-of-the-art technology and refined plug-in hybrid option will draw even more clients to the Lincoln showroom, including families who are looking for three-row capability.”
With its slim, tapered lines, roomy interior, twin-turbocharged powertrain available with an advanced plug-in hybrid option, the three-row Aviator targets the heart of the premium market, entering the medium luxury SUV segment that represents more than a quarter of all premium SUVs sold. Appealing to millennials starting families, with the majority of vehicles sold to people ages 35 to 44, the medium luxury SUV segment saw sales of more than 585,000 vehicles in 2017 in the U.S.
The synchronicity of Aviator’s name and form language is intentional; aeronautics has long inspired automotive design.
“In Aviator, the lines of the vehicle are streamlined,” says Lincoln Design Director David Woodhouse. “You have the stature and presence of the grille at the front, then the body and tail taper off – creating a distinct aerofoil analogy.”
The emphasis of graceful lines pulling downward toward the rear – a cue to Aviator’s rear-wheel-drive platform – is what Woodhouse describes as an in-flight gesture. “If you look at a bird or plane in flight, the wing is always at an angle to the air and falling downward toward the rear,” he says. “You see that in the main bodyline of Aviator. From the headlight to the taillight, there’s a beautiful undercut feature varying in depth that connotes poise and grace.”
The iridescent Flight Blue exterior colour complements Aviator’s elegant, flowing lines, while the signature Lincoln grille is executed in high-gloss black and chrome accents. A wraparound windshield helps complete the aviation-inspired theme.
Comfort and convenience
The effortless experience begins even before entering the Aviator, as owners can use their smartphone as a key. When it debuts on the production SUV, Phone as a Key technology is expected to be one of the industry’s leading systems. Activated through the Lincoln Way™ app, it allows owners to lock and unlock, open the trunk and, most importantly, start and drive the vehicle – no smart key fob is necessary.
Phone as a Key is designed to offer other amenities similar to a smart key fob. For instance, drivers can activate a locator chirp to find Aviator in a crowded parking lot, or recall their personal profile. Should the phone battery go dead, a backup passcode can be entered on the standard exterior keypad to gain access, then clients can start and proceed to drive the vehicle via the center touch screen. And, if the phone is lost or stolen, Phone as a Key can be easily deleted, providing additional peace of mind.
Inside, Aviator’s spacious, airy cabin accentuates horizontal lines, minimizing visual clutter to deliver a soothing sanctuary. A thoughtfully designed steering wheel is intended for ultimate ease of use, with only subtle finger movements needed to access the many functions it houses.
As comfort is paramount with Aviator, the amenities continue with Perfect Position seats offering 30-way adjustability and massage capability, while flexible second-row seats can recline and slide forward for easy access to the spacious third row.
Wireless phone charging is located in the front armrest, while a convenient media bin is available for passengers in front as well. Multiple power outlets are located throughout the cabin, while standard Wi-Fi ensures everyone stays connected.
Power, capability and choice
Built on a rear-wheel-drive platform, Aviator allows for the power and capability luxury clients require in a three-row SUV. The platform also serves to enhance Aviator’s elegant proportions, with a long wheelbase allowing for a spacious second and third row.
The Lincoln powertrain is designed for clients interested in options. A twin-turbocharged engine can be paired with the brand’s first advanced plug-in hybrid technology, marking the first time the company will offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain mated to a twin-turbocharged engine. This combination of power and electrified capability will help Aviator deliver Lincoln’s quietest, smoothest, most powerful drive yet.
Offering the capability of its twin-turbocharged engine in combination with a hybrid electric powertrain makes Aviator mightier than many supercars on the road today. The plug-in hybrid experience provides for a responsive, refined ride, with no powertrain-induced noise and vibration when operating on battery charge, yet is capable of using its twin-turbocharged engine if needed, easing range anxiety.
Lincoln Drive Modes allow clients to further customize the drive experience, while a 12-inch standard cluster display confirms the choice with beautiful and dynamic, easy-to-read graphics.
Client-focused technologies, services
Aviator delivers a wealth of advanced technologies designed to assist the driver every step of the way.
With Aviator’s advanced forward camera scanning the road ahead, Lincoln’s first-ever Suspension Preview Technology seamlessly adjusts the suspension for upcoming road conditions. This can help reduce driver stress caused by potholes and bumps in the road.
Aviator will be equipped with Lincoln Co-Pilot360™, an advanced suite of standard driver-assist technologies including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert, lane keeping system, reverse camera and auto high-beam lighting.
Aviator offers Reverse Brake Assist, an enhanced driver-assist technology that integrates rear sensors and a camera to provide automatic braking if an obstacle is detected behind the vehicle.
Aviator also debuts a selection of considerate prompts delivered through the newest version of SYNC®. With the introduction of these prompts, or cues, Lincoln advances the brand’s holistic approach to vehicle ownership by bringing those services into the car.
The prompts are designed to deliver helpful information to drivers visually on the cluster display, recommending appropriate actions to help them overcome whatever situation they’re facing. Should they run low on fuel, for example, Aviator will notify them and seamlessly connect them with navigation to offer them the closest gas station options.
“Lincoln is committed to delivering the innovation and features that luxury consumers expect today,” says Falotico. “And, the Aviator is yet another example of how we are creating an effortless experience for our clients.”