New York, NY – Remember the Lincoln Aviator? Probably not. Only offered for a few years between 2003 to 2005, it was the shortest production run vehicle in the company’s history.
But that was ages ago and now it’s back for 2019 with a bold yet elegant look, new technology, and a Lincoln first offering a plug-in hybrid with a twin-turbo engine.
We got a chance to get up close and personal with this pre-production/accurate prototype model ahead of its official world debut at the 2018 New York International Auto Show.
Good-bye MKT. Hello Aviator
Lincoln plans to release two new SUVs by 2020 with this new Aviator leading the charge. Considering the mid-size SUV makes up a quarter sales in the segment (and the outgoing, not-so-beautiful MKT mid-sizer just didn’t cut it with new buyers) it’s about time the luxury brand introduced a well-designed, contemporary three-row SUV to the mix.
Nestled between the full-size Navigator on one end and the smaller MKX (transitioning to the Nautilus next year) and stylish little MKC on the other, the 2019 Aviator will fill the gap with what we suspect will be a top-seller for the company, serving as an upscale Ford Explorer equivalent.
What’s driving Lincoln’s utility vehicle growth are the Milleninals, according to the company’s new President, Joy Falotico. These buyers (and we’re not just talking iPhone wielding hipsters here but young families) will make up the majority of the new Navigator’s sales, hence, will naturally will gravitate towards the new three-row Aviator, stating, “the Lincoln Navigator continues to turn heads and bring new clients to the brand. 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.”
…pairing a hybrid with the twin-turbo is designed to offer shoppers options with a combination of power and electrified capability helping the Aviator deliver Lincoln’s quietest, smoothest, most powerful drive yet, according to the company.
2019 Aviator Release Date
We pushed for an official release date but there’s no confirmed date just yet. But it’s safe to say it’ll be sometime mid to late next year we’ll see a 2019 model hit showroom floors.
(Once official pricing and release date are set, we’ll have it up).
And while this Aviator we got up close to isn’t a full-fledged production model, it’s not a glossy concept either. So what you see here is likely what you’ll get. Maybe some interior tweaks and adjustments, according to the Lincoln designers, but expect the exterior design to look as is.
New Lincoln SUV’s Main Features
Power: Plug-in hybrid powertrain paired to a twin-turbo engine
Aside from being a Lincoln-first, pairing a hybrid with the twin-turbo is designed to offer shoppers options with a combination of power and electrified capability helping the Aviator deliver Lincoln’s quietest, smoothest, most powerful drive yet, according to the company.
Built on a rear-wheel drive platform (and likely an all-wheel drive only platform in Canada, Lincoln tells us), the Aviator will offer Drive Modes similar to the new Navigator. We suspect the 10-speed transmission currently in the Navigator will be in the mix.
New tech: use your smartphone as a key fob
Appropriately called Phone as a Key technology, that’s right, you’ll be able to use your smartphone as a proper key fob when the new feature rolls out in the new Aviators next year.
Activated through the Lincoln Way app, it allows owners to lock and unlock, open the trunk and, most importantly, start and drive the vehicle. And if your phone battery dies? A backup passcode can be entered on the standard exterior keypad to gain access, then use the centre touch screen to get the Aviator up and running to hit the road.
Other new technologies include SYNC with the latest features, Lincoln Co-Pilot360 with an advanced suite of standard driver-assist technologies (blind spot monitoring, lane keeping system, etc.), and a 12-inch standard cluster display driver front and centre.
Viewed from the side, it appears to be literally leaning back with that sloping roofline. And Lincoln Designers didn’t add a bunch of gaudy chrome chunks.
Exterior Design: Clean Lines with Bold Look
The new Aviator’s leaned back profile and falling fast roofline is what will set it apart in the sea of SUVs – up close, this is a good looking machine.
Viewed from the side, it appears to be literally leaning back with that sloping roofline. And Lincoln designers didn’t add a bunch of gaudy chrome chunks. Overall, it just looks clean, elegant, yet bold. The simple, streamlined rear design with the long, horizontal taillights help drive this point home.
Following the company’s new design language with the Continental sedan and Navigator, the new Aviator is next up.
As David Woodhouse, Lincoln Design Director, puts it, “the lines of the vehicle are streamlined…you have the stature and presence of the grille at the front, then the body and tail taper off – creating a distinct aerofoil analogy.”
Again, this Aviator is a prototype but expect the real deal to look virtually the same when it arrives next year.