What is it?
The Aviator has unique bodywork and is pitched and priced as an alternative to European and Japanese premium SUVs.
The Aviator is more than five meters tall and has three standard seats. All versions use a longitudinally mounted version of Ford’s twin-turbocharged petrol 3.0-litre V6 making 400bhp and working in conjunction with a 10-speed automatic gearbox.
The Aviator has rear-wheel drive as standard, while the plusher Black Label version tested here is a 4×4. There’s also the range-topping Grand Touring plug-in hybrid, with a total output of 494bhp but also a serious 2573kg kerbweight (by American methodology). The regular AWD petrol is a relatively svelte 2218kg.
What’s it like?
The Aviator has a relaxed demeanor. When accelerating, the car prioritizes comfort over dynamic precision. Aviator performance is acceptable. The engine has plenty of low-down muscle. And it’s great when it’s almost silent on your journey. Yet it’s also enthusiastic when poked from its slumbers, revving keenly and sounding pretty good for a V6 when working hard.
Like most of Ford’s bigger offerings, the Aviator comes with the 10-speed auto ‘box that was jointly developed with General Motors. It works extremely well under gentle use, blending changes almost imperceptibly. However, the harder acceleration requirements are usually met by a noticeable pause when it tries to figure out how much to reduce. Lincoln doesn’t use conventional gearshifters, rather buttons on the dashboard. It’s possible to manually select gears through paddles behind the steering wheel.
Aviator is equipped with steel springs and has passive damping, and the all-wheel drive version is upgraded to active damping. Our test car was also fitted with the Dynamic Handling Package, which brings height-adjustable air suspension and a road-scanning camera system to help the dampers prepare for surface changes.
This seems good at dealing with individual bumps. However, soft springing and the lack of any active anti-roll system also mean lots of roll under enthusiastic cornering, plus pitch and dive under acceleration and braking respectively. The chassis is adept at rolling with the punches, but it just seems to take a lot of them. Grip levels are modest, and although the Aviator will travel at a reasonable lick.
The interior is designed relatively spacious and well-finished. Compared to the market, the design is quite outdated. Metal knobs and piano black buttons control heating and ventilation. There is also a modest 10.1in touch screen, simple interface and easy to use.
More senior Aviators come with ‘Perfect Placement’ seats. This chair is 30-way adjustable, with optional chin changes the height of each side of the base cushion. And there are many other options. Most materials feel appropriately classy, but there are still hard plastics, including the bases of the second-row seats. However, in the third row, the space is quite cramped. It is suitable for part-time use. Compared to other seats, there is less cushioning.
Should I buy one?
If you’re in Europe, you probably won’t be able to buy this car because Lincoln exists outside the United States. Indeed, right-hand drive markets are even denied the Explorer it shares its mechanical package with. In the Aviator’s home market, its biggest problem is definitely the one with the dollar sign in front of it.
The basic rear-driven model starts at $52,195 (currently £40,520) the AWD Black Label is $81,790 (£63,490) and the PHEV Black Label is $88,895 (£69,000). The Dynamic Handling Package adds $3000 (£2330). Those are prices that put it into direct contention with plusher versions of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Range Rover Sport and even Porsche Cayenne.
- Price $52,195 On sale Now (US)
- Engine 2998cc, V6, twin-turbocharged, petrol
- Power 400bhp at 6000rpm
- Torque 415lb ft at 2000rpm
- Gearbox 10-spd automatic
- Kerb weight 2218kg
- Top speed tbc 0-62mph 6.0sec