By on March 28, 2018

Image: Ford

Remember that scene where a severally obsessive-compulsive Howard Hughes (played by the boy from Titanic) can’t stop repeating the same phrase in the movie The Aviator? I suspect a similar phrase hung in the minds of Ford Motor Company executives while signing off on this model.

A large-ish, rear-wheel-drive, three-row crossover (SUV, according to Lincoln) is surely just the ticket to make up for declining passenger car sales —  after all, is there any evidence to the contrary? The way of the future, indeed.

What’s amusing is that, in this case, Lincoln’s future success appears to rest partially on a model resurrected from the past. The first Lincoln Aviator graced our landscape for just three model years, 2003 to 2005, and looked very much like a shrunken Navigator. Well, the second-generation model is clearly cut from the same cloth as its larger sibling, but differences abound.

Scheduled for a Wednesday reveal as a “production preview,” the upcoming Aviator eschews the Navigator’s body-on-frame construction for Ford’s modular CD6 platform, shared with the next-generation Ford Explorer. Both models will bow next year as 2020 models (there’s no mention of the Aviator in FoMoCo’s 2019 order guide).

Image: Ford

Like the Navigator, this utility arrives in a rear-drive format, though four-wheel traction will surely be on offer for buyers seeking insurance against inclement weather. We hardly think Aviator owners will venture off-road.

Thanks to its smaller size, it’s easier to appreciate the Aviator’s rear-drive proportions. Long in hood and front fender, the vehicle appears crouched on its haunches, ready to spring forward. Its hoodline — not nearly as flat as the Navigator’s — curves towards a now-standardized Continental-esque grille, flanked by a variation on the larger SUV’s headlamps. Actually, it seems the entire front fascia was lifted from the Navigator, placed in an oven, then allowed to soften slightly.

The Aviator’s flanks are, mercifully, not as slab-sided as its stablemate, though the blacked-out pillars seem awfully familiar. Upper and lower window trim comes in heavier, shinier doses, and a chrome-ringed model nameplate appears on the upper front fenders and doors, just below a sharp character line connecting headlamp to taillamp. Those rear lights stretch the width of the liftgate.

It’s a new Lincoln, alright. No mistaking it.

Image: Ford

Lincoln doesn’t delve into powertrain specifics in its media release, stating only that a twin-turbocharged powerplant graces the area below the hood. We know this to be the brand’s 3.0-liter V6, perhaps making more than the 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque enjoyed by Continental owners. It’s the same engine destined for the Explorer ST. Expect a 10-speed automatic transmission to handle the shifting duties.

In keeping with Ford’s electrification plan, buyers can order a plug-in hybrid variant without losing the twin-turbocharged engine. Range and motor output remains a mystery.

Inside the Aviator’s cabin, you’ll find 30-way adjustable front seats and reclining second-row thrones that slide forward for easier access to the third row. A 12-inch digital gauge display is configurable in a number of drive modes. Safety comes in the form of Lincoln Co-Pilot360 —an upscale version, I guess, of the suite of driver aids you’ll find on vehicles as lowly as the 2019 Ford Fusion.

One novel feature making its debut on the Aviator is the automaker’s “Phone as a Key” technology. Via the Lincoln Way app, owners can use their smartphone to unlock and start the vehicle (and perform other fob-like functions), no fob required. If their phone goes dark at the worst possible moment, drivers can enter a code into the external keypad to unlock the vehicle, then start the vehicle using the touchscreen. Owners who potentially remember buying the original Aviator might feel more at home with a fob. Surely, there’ll be one.

Image: Ford

These owners can also further their relationship with the Aviator through the car’s “effortless” services. Say you’re so involved in adjusting your seat, you neglect to notice the fuel tank’s running low. Sync will “prompt” your attention via the gauge cluster display, then use its navigation services to point your towards the nearest pump. (This is basically the opposite of what company chairman Bill Ford experienced earlier this decade.)

Another feature just screaming for rigorous, real-world testing is a suspension setup that adjust the dampers in response to hazards seen by the vehicle’s forward-facing camera. With pothole season in full swing, we’re upset this rig isn’t plying the roads yet.

The Aviator can’t come soon enough for Lincoln. Sales of Lincoln brand vehicles in the U.S. seemed to hit a post-recession peak in 2016, falling every so slightly the following year. Over the first two months of 2018, volume fell 23.4 percent.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

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60 Comments on “Lincoln Aviator: Right-sized SUV Cleared for Takeoff...”


  • avatar
    ernest

    Bet this thing outsells the Continental 10:1. Lincoln seems to have found their calling- the American version of a Range Rover.

  • avatar
    la834

    Will I buy one? It all comes down to whether Lincoln offers the awesome completely color-coordinated burgundy red interior as in the Navigator. If the only interior choices are grey, beige, or black, see ya….

  • avatar
    RHD

    “So it’s basically a Pilot?”
    “Sshhhh… it has a longer word for a name, and it’s more expensive!”

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Let’s say, oh I don’t know, you’re brain dead and you don’t know your fuel tank is almost empty. Then you find yourself unable to locate a filling station. Relax, Snowflake, Lincoln has you covered.

  • avatar
    mikestuff

    Yes, I am one of the kind of people; read this first sentence please: “Remember that scene where a severally obsessive-compulsive Howard Hughes”…..

    Yes, it should read “severely obsessive-compulsive”….

    That is all

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      Well, perhaps he also suffered from some form of dissociative identity disorder and his alters had OCD. Then he could have been severally obsessive-compulsive. Just sayin’.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Looks like it will print money for Lincoln. Good to see the name spelled out too. Does it replace the MKX? edit: looks like this is Pilot-sized while the MKX is CRV-sized edit2: actually the MKC looks to be smaller… now I’m confused.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    REAL tail pipes! Celebrate!

  • avatar
    threeer

    Is it me, or do the wheels look out of proportion to the rest of the vehicle?

  • avatar
    discoholic

    This is a seriously good-looking vehicle – nicely sculpted without being over the top (I’m looking at you, Lexus), beautifully proportioned, and classily detailed. I particularly like the profile that tapers towards the rear – it’s very hard to make an SUV look elegant (just compare the proportions of the rather gorgeous Range Rover Velar and the hideous Discovery and you know what I mean).

    I’m guessing the lovely wing mirrors will have to be swapped out for something out of the parts bin (and including cameras and blind spot sensors), but if they build the rest of it like it looks in the pictures, they won’t be able to build them fast enough. This is the first Lincoln I’d actually buy and love to own since the 1962 Continental.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    Great looking truck. Good job Lincoln.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I’ve called for Lincoln to be killed off, but I gotta admit, this looks good. I’d buy one.

    For the American luxury market to take off, there needs to be more entries in the segment. Flood the market with product. At this rate, Lincoln and Cadillac need to be in cahoots with each other to take on everyone else.

    Cadillac needs to counter this product. Dust off the old GMT360 platform and bring back the Envoy and give us an Escalade Sport.

    • 0 avatar
      NTGD

      Lets go with an omega based crossover instead keeps the same unibody RWD vibe as the Aviator and gives GM something on the omega platform that will actually sell in good numbers(love the CT6 but a hot seller it is not).

  • avatar

    Audi meets Range Rover slaps on Continental grille. Nowadays there’s more copying going on in the U.S. than in Asia.

  • avatar
    NoID

    There’s a whole lot of Range Rover in that 3/4 rear view.

    Overall, it looks good. Aviator 1.0 was Lincoln phoning it in, Aviator 2.0 looks to be the right stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      The original Aviator was better than you might think. Though it looked like a shrunken Navigator and was based on the Explorer, the Aviator had its own engine, suspension, and interior/dash (quite nice, too).

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Ford went all out on the Aviator 1.0 with a massive amount of differentiation from the Mercury sitting next to it in the showroom. On the Ford and Mercury you had a choice of a V-6 or 2 valve V8 while the Aviator had a 4 valve V8 with a healthy boost in power. The Aviator had a completely different dash and rest of the interior, sans the 3rd row seat and headliner from the Ford and Mercury versions, and the front end sheet metal was totally unique. We’ll have to wait and see just how much this differs from what is available with a Blue Oval on the front. If this indeed comes with the same engine as the Explorer ST that’s one mark against it vs the original.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    A 9/10ths Navigator is the best they could come up with?

    This company of rebadges is a joke.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yes, this unibody crossover is obviously a rebadged BOF SUV.

      If that’s the best diss you can come up with, your trolling is a joke.

      Also, Lincoln must have done a truly excellent job if all you can think of is fake news to get your “furd sux” message across.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I mean….I don’t see a problem with a 9/10 Navigator. Your criticism is actually a compliment. The right thing for Lincoln to do is make as many crossovers and SUVs as they can that look like the current Navigator.

    • 0 avatar
      road_pizza

      Seeing as we’re selling every Navi we can lay our hands on here at my work I’d say that’s a very good thing. Especially since the majority of Navis we sell are high buck Black Label ones. Take your Ford hate elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Right. Selling “all you can get your hands on”.

        Sorry but I don’t believe that lie from Ford. All they’re trying to do is gin up interest by saying it’s such a hit.

        The Navigator is a joke. It’s crass, the seats are stupidly complicated. The styling is horrendous, and at the end of the day, you’re driving a chrome Expedition rebadge. It was a pathetic effort just like this MKExplorer. Ford has once again showed the world they are incapable of making Lincoln desirable.

        • 0 avatar
          ernest

          Yes, it is crass, complicated, and expensive. So is the Escalade- and Cadillac sold 39,000 of them last year at between $80,000-$100,000 a pop. Cadillac also sold 84,600 slightly less crass and complicated XT5/SRX’s last year. These are the kind of numbers Audi, BMW, Land Rover, and Mercedes would kill for- especially considering Cadillac’s buyer group falls squarely in their target demographics.

          If Lincoln could hit 1/2 of Cadillac’s sales, they’ll be a success.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This looks amazing. Bravo Lincoln. They should have applied this square jawed strong shouldered look to the Continental. Want factor is very high with this.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    That thing is gorgeous…I’d NEVER spend the money for a luxury SUV but I am really impressed.

    I also have to applaud FoMoCo for giving it a real name too…took ’em long enough.

  • avatar
    Oldschool

    Hey what happened to my comment? Did you guys delete it or what? Not cool.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    If Lincoln is going to kill its’ sedans, the least it can do is make great-looking CUVs, I suppose. Nicely done.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    WOW I really like this. The Navigator is just too big. The proportions on the Aviator just look right to me. From the profile to the good looking quad tips I really like this. Too bad I’m not in the market for this type of vehicle. Not a fan of that big infotainment screen unless it retracts into the dash. With those vents right below it I suspect it does not.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    This looks the business and will be far more influential in Lincoln’s continued existence than suicide doors on a sedan no one buys anyways.

    The wheels, though. Can we take it down just a notch? The rimz and duds manufacturers patronized by the BHPH customers later in this vehicle’s life will be put out of business.

  • avatar
    PwrdbyM

    Most interesting news is the Explorer is switching back to a RWD platform.

  • avatar
    NN

    damn. I sold my Ford stock awhile back and thought they were doomed. This, and the new Navigator, will print money and bring Lincoln back from the dead. Maybe they’re not doomed!

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Ford could make a sh*tload of money –oh, wait, they do, have done so every year since the Mulally era– and Wall Street couldn’t care less.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Yeah. When you eliminate any level of acceptable quality from your vehicles, the money pours in. Great Job Mulally!!

        Oh wait, when your remove all quality from your vehicles, you have to deal with massive recalls and class action lawsuits…which is where Ford has been for a while now.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Nope. The screen is a deal breaker for me. So are plumbing engine sounds through the speakers.

    I am sure many will buy it for the outside looks though since it is a handsome enough design.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      “Nope. The screen is a deal breaker for me. So are plumbing engine sounds through the speakers.”

      Then you’re going to see less and less of what you like, because both of those are becoming more common.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Ford should be pipping “LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL” through the office PA system. SUVs/trucks are what America wants, SUVs/trucks are what she shall have.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Headlights and placement are pure BMW, like their concepts over the last few years. Looks great though, will finally Get people to take notice of Lincoln. They just need to square off the Nautilus now, and keep the MKC rounded.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The RWD oriented CD6 platform has great proportions. The new Explorer is going to look a lot better than the FWD Volvo platform currently used. Just imagine if FoMoCo could sell a sedan based on the same platform how good THAT would look!

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Honestly, this looks fantastic. And I am not a Lincoln “fan” by any stretch.

    The Navigator….something about the grille or the lights or the proportions, it just doesn’t look quite right outside to my eye.

    But this is superb excepting the horribly ugly wheels Lincoln likes to seem to show off.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Stop, just stop screwing with the rooflines on the SUVs designed for humans. The aesthetics are tiring and reduced head clearance is truly inane. Please prove to me someone on the product team is older than 12. Thx.

  • avatar
    rolando

    Can I ask what is the point of the this, or any other Glorified Minivan being RWD? The hardest thing this will do is driving the kids to soccer practice!


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