2020 Lincoln Aviator Review - Finally, This Is the Lincoln I Expected

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2020 Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD

3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 (400 hp @ 5500 rpm, 415 lb/ft. @ 3000 rpm)
Ten-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
17 city / 24 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
21.1 (observed mileage, MPG)
13.7 city / 9.7 highway / 11.9 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price: $59,795 US / $71,200 CAD
As Tested: $76,310 US / $82,950 CAD
Prices include $1095 destination charge in the United States and $2,200 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.

We were never a family that splurged on high-end brands. Store-brand staples were generally good enough for most household needs. Our TVs and stereo equipment were Sony only because my dad sold electronics at a big retailer in the Eighties. We straddled the fine line between frugality and cheapness. We just weren’t those kinds of people.

If there was a luxury brand of car, it was certain that we wouldn’t have it. Chevy or Olds, not Cadillac. Ford, not Lincoln – at least until I was out of the house. Dad, when choosing yet another car to ferry him on his sales calls around the Great Lakes, finally splurged on a late ‘90s front-drive Continental. As I recall, it was fine, but it didn’t wow me with the luxury I’d expect from the Lincoln nameplate.

Today, however, Lincoln is staging a comeback. First, the brand restored ACTUAL NAMES to its vehicles, rather than tacking MK-whatever on everything. Now, this genuinely elegant 2020 Lincoln Aviator makes a legitimate claim to the luxury SUV throne.

I mean, look at it. Lincoln has been killing it on exterior styling for a few years now, and the Aviator continues the theme. While the CD6-chassis Explorer roots are evident, the Ford is already handsome for a three-row SUV. This Aviator hones those well-proportioned bones into a chiseled beauty. I don’t even hate the corporate grille – it’s not nearly as garish and overwrought as those gaping maws found on many competitors.

The interior is similarly stylish and well thought out. As much as I hate the idea of the iPad-on-the-dashboard infotainment screen seen on so many new cars, at least in this case it’s well integrated and seemingly allows the overall dashboard height to feel low, giving great outward visibility. The rest of the style is elegant, feeling like an updated Sixties-vintage Continental rather than the too-modern, too-angular trim bits found in, say, the Cadillac XT6.

God, the seats in this thing are magnificent. Had I known two months ago when I was driving the Aviator that I’d be confined to my home office for a seemingly interminable length of time, I might have feigned a vandalism claim for my tester and absconded with one of these 30-way adjustable, heated, cooled, massaging chairs into which I could park my ass for these fifteen-plus-hour days in my basement. The adjustments can take a minute to perfect – since there are so freaking many – but once situated, these are heaven for the posterior.

[Get new and used Lincoln Aviator prices here!]

They do cost a good bit, however. Appearing as part of the Reserve I package, which adds at least ten thousand dollars to the base price of the Aviator, they’re still worth absolutely every penny.

Second row comfort is nearly as good as that in the front, especially with the optional captain’s chairs seen here. The third row is a bit tight for legroom for full-sized adults – it’ll work in a pinch, but folks under about 63” tall (the height of my 11-year-old) will be fine. Press a couple of buttons, and that third row folds into a 41.8 cubic foot cargo hold for furbabies or whatever.

The Aviator drives like a Lincoln should, too. It’s decidedly unsporty. While it doesn’t heave and wallow in turns, neither is it diving for apexes with verve. The ride is soft, controlled, and relaxing – perfect for all-day road trips or a relaxing commute. The optional Air Glide suspension, part of the $3,000 Dynamic Handling package, works with a road-scanning system to adapt the suspension to road irregularities and lessen the impacts ahead. The crumbling tarmac here in Ohio makes this option basically mandatory – it’s magical in how it isolates the cabin from the nasty road ahead.

It does scoot away from stop lights with authority, however. Four hundred horses paired with an excellent 10-speed automatic do a fine job of putting power to all four wheels. I’ve heard others complain of occasional shift weirdness from this transmission/engine combo, but I have absolutely no complaints about the way the power gets to the ground.

Yep, Lincoln is back. This Aviator is a stately, dignified family wagon with class to spare. I’d like to think that my dad might have forsaken his cheapskate ways to splurge on this comfy highway hauler.

[Images: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Prabirmehta Prabirmehta on May 27, 2020

    My X5 is celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year. It has stranded me on the road twice and at home twice in the past 10 years. It has also been expensive to repair and maintain. I am very particular about preventative maintenance and sometimes will spend for the repair before it's necessary to head off any disasters. But I love it nevertheless - not sure I would get anything else in the future. I don't know of any SUV which has the same combination of solidity, sportiness, decent ride and handling in inclement weather/snow.

  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Jun 08, 2020

    I just read these reviews to size them up as potential CPO purchases.

  • Canam23 My old boss had a Seville STS with the Northstar that he would lend me when I wanted to drive from LA to Vegas. I have to admit that I loved it. Compared to my father-in-laws FWD Deville with the 4.1, the Seville was smooth, fast, comfortable and nice handling. It also was stingy on gas. Fortunately he never had a problem with his Northstar motor and I still think fondly of that car today.
  • V16 I'm sure you could copy and paste most of the "NO" responses to 1960's Japanese sourced vehicles.
  • Canam23 I believe the Chinese are entirely capable of building good cars, BYD has shown that they are very forward thinking and their battery technology is very good, BUT, I won't buy one because I don't believe in close to slave labor conditions, their animosity to the west, the lack of safety conditions for their workers and also the tremendous amount of pollution their factories produce. It's not an equal playing field and when I buy a car I want it made with as little pollution as possible in decent working conditions and paying a livable wage. I find it curious that people are taking swipes at the UAW in this thread because you can clearly see what horrific labor conditions exist in China, no union to protect them. I also don't own an iphone, I prefer my phones made where there aren't nets around to catch possible suicide jumpers. I am currently living in France, Citroen makes their top model in China, but you see very few. BYD has yet to make an impression here and the French government has recently imposed huge tariffs on Chinese autos. Currently the ones I see the most are the new MG's, mostly electric cars that remind me of early Korean cars, but they are progressing. In fact, the French buy very little Chinese goods, they are very protective of their industries.
  • Jerry Haan I have these same lights, and the light output, color, and coverage is amazing!Be aware, these lights interfere with AM and FM radio reception with the stereoreceiver I have in my garage. When the lights are on, I all the AM stations havelots of static, and there are only a couple of FM stations that are clear. When Iturn the lights off, all the radio stations work fine. I have tried magnetic cores on the power cords of the lights, that did not makeany change. The next thing I am going to try is mounting an antenna in my atticto get them away from the lights. I contacted the company for support, they never responded.
  • Lou_BC Are Hot Wheels cars made in China?