2020 Lincoln Aviator revealed with 400 horsepower at L.A. Auto Show


LOS ANGELES — The Lincoln Aviator has finally been in production form following its “concept” debut at the New York Auto Show earlier this year. We add the quotes because the production model is identical to the New York model. Appearances aside, the big news is under the hood.

At launch, the will be available with two engines. They’re both twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6s, and one of them is a plug-in hybrid. The standard engine makes an impressive and pound-feet of torque. To help put that into perspective, that’s about 40 more horsepower than the top-rung six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 we just drove, and about 65 more horsepower than the entry-level six-cylinder BMW X5 xDrive40i. Moving to the hybrid powertrain brings Aviator output to 450 horsepower and a staggering 600 pound-feet of torque. That’s just 6 ponies shy of the V8-powered BMW X5 xDrive50i, but 121 more pound-feet of torque.

This plug-in hybrid powertrain will also be able to do the typical plug-in stuff. You can run the vehicle in pure electric mode or hold the charge to be deployed at a more advantageous time such as driving in town at the end of a highway drive. Lincoln did not give estimates for the pure electric range. Fuel economy hasn’t been revealed yet, either.

Other interesting hybrid notes: The battery fits entirely under the passenger side of the vehicle between the front and rear wheels. The motor is sandwiched between the engine and transmission. Lincoln also mentioned this is a modular hybrid system, so expect to see it appear in other Lincoln and Ford products in the future.

This powertrain layout is part of what makes it possible for all versions of the Aviator to use the same 10-speed automatic transmission, which is gradually proliferating through the whole Ford family. From there, power either goes solely to the rear wheels, or through an optional all-wheel-drive system.

All of this power can ride on an available adaptive air suspension the company calls Air Glide. It works like many adaptive suspensions, scanning the road with a camera to adjust damping for bumps ahead. It does have some other trick features, though. When the Aviator is parked, the suspension lowers to make the crossover look more attractive while sitting. And when the driver approaches, it lowers itself further for easier ingress. It also raises itself for snow or mild off-road driving, and it lowers down at highway speeds for better aerodynamics.

2020 Lincoln Aviator

The Aviator has other nifty technology. For one thing, you don’t have to have your key fob with you anymore. You can connect your phone to the car so it can act as the key fob. It will let you lock, unlock and start the car. The car performs the whole “Lincoln Embrace” welcome procedure of switching on the running lights and puddle lights as you approach. Owners can register up to four devices to work as a key, and in case any are lost, they can be removed by going online from your computer or phone.

Now that we’ve gone through all the mechanical and technological fun, we should talk about the Aviator’s looks. As we mentioned, it does look like the model shown in New York, and that’s good. It looks like a sleeker version of the Navigator with its gently sloping, tapering roofline, and it has the more car-like nose of the Continental. It’s long and elegant from most every angle, and it does have rear-drive proportions that make it look quite upscale. There are neat nods to Lincoln’s brand and history. There are two grilles that feature either cutouts in the shape of the Lincoln badge, or raised studs in the same shape. The Grand Touring model, which comes with the hybrid powertrain, has blue highlights in the badging the company says are matched to the badges of vintage V12 Lincolns.

One curious feature is the door handles. They’re like the Continental’s handles, which have an electronic button on the inside — the handles are just handles, they don’t move. But they sit in normal positions and have a normal shape. A Lincoln representative said this was done to make sure the handles were low enough for short people or children to reach, which makes total sense, though the handles probably could have been made mechanical in that case.

The highlight of the Navigator’s design is the interior. It’s basically a scaled down version of the Navigator’s interior — a very good thing, since the Navigator’s interior is one of our favorites. It’s got a lovely low, wide dash with plenty of wood, leather and chrome. It has both a very American and mid-century modern feel. The wood trims are all open-pore matte finish, and they’re beautiful, but there’s a machine-turned aluminum trim that may be the coolest. It features a perfect, unique grid of little machined circles. It’s featured on the new Black Label theme called Flight, which is unsurprisingly focused on plane and aviation themes with a brown leather interior and the machine-turned aluminum. According to Lincoln, the perforations in the leather are based on airport landing lights.

The Lincoln Aviator goes on sale in summer 2019. Pricing has yet to be announced, but expect it to be pricey considering its high-performance powertrain options. We would estimate somewhere between $55,000 and $65,000 for a starting price. That’s a similar price range for the current X5 and the outgoing GLE-Class (the new model doesn’t have pricing yet), which are also similar in size and performance. This price would also slot below Navigator comfortably, but is more than the aging MKT.

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