World Debut: Lincoln’s Elegant 2020 Aviator Mid-Size SUV Takes the Fight to Q7, XC90, QX60 & MDX

The wraps have come off Lincoln’s new three-row, mid-size luxury SUV at the 2018 LA Auto Show

Editor’s Note: earlier this year, we got up close with the pre-production Aviator at the New York Auto Show  – read about it here.

Los Angeles, California – The wraps have come off Lincoln’s new three-row, mid-size luxury SUV. The sleek Aviator offers twin-turbo V6 power and a plug-in hybrid option, and goes on sale from summer 2019.

3 Trims Including Aviator Hybrid Inbound

Aviator is built on an all-new, RWD architecture, although all Canadian models will come with AWD. There will be three grades, each with its own grille pattern – Aviator, Aviator Reserve and the Grand Touring hybrid. US buyers additionally have the option of a top-of-the-line Black Label model with either gas or hybrid power.

New course for the American luxury automaker

The Aviator will signal the direction for all Lincoln vehicles going forward, according to the company, with a focus on “elegance, effortless performance and unparalleled comfort”. The brand’s mantra of ‘quiet flight’ is said to be reflected throughout the car, as product manager, Brad Jaeger explains.

2020 lincoln aviator rear profile

“Styling is one way that we differentiate ourselves from the pack,” he says. “In the mid-size premium utility segment, some of the three-row competitors out there have a very aggressive, domineering design. We’re believe that’s not in line with Lincoln, nor with what many of our customers want. The Aviator’s styling is very proud, with its grille design and the stance at the front, but it’s also sleek. The falling roofline provides a more calming and comfortable aura, and a distinct aerofoil analogy.”

Smartphone entry

Access to the Aviator can be achieved via new Phone as a Key technology, which enables fobless operation from up to four smartphones via the Lincoln Way app. Lincoln says that the engineering team has “sweated the details and obsessed over ease of use” to create what it describes as “the most secure Phone as a Key in the industry”. A passcode-based backup system alleviates potential concerns over flat smartphone batteries.

Related: 2018 Best Luxury SUV & Crossovers | Compact & Midsize to Luxury 3-Row Sport Utilities

“We feel we stand out from the competition in the technology that we’ve included,” Jaeger expands. “All of it is around making our clients’ lives easier. For example, when you go into the interiors of some of our competitors, there’s technology and buttons everywhere. We’ve tried to simplify that as much as possible.”

Aviator Interior Goes Aeronautical

The inspiration of luxury leather goods and aircraft-style, machine-turned metals features in the cabin. Highlights include a redesigned steering wheel that has an ergonomically located voice command button at the 10 o’clock position and streamlined, four-way switches to control music, phone and navigation functions.

2020 lincoln aviator interior

HUD and massage seats

In a further bid to reduce driver distraction, the head-up display can even be read through polarizing sunglasses. Thirty-position seats are available with enhanced massage capability and additional lumbar support for driver and front-row passenger.

Audio setup

A clever Revel Ultima 3D audio system restores some of the detail lost in music compression and has some of its 28 speakers in the headlining for what’s said to be a true surround feel. Meanwhile, musical tones recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra replace the usual electronic chimes.

Driver tech

A ‘contextual’ interface helps simplify the available menu options to highlight only those appropriate to the driving conditions. “The same principle applies to the ‘considerate’ prompts,” adds Jaeger. “We try to understand the situation the driver’s in and not only tell them what’s going on, but recommend action from there.

That might include helpful directions to fuel station, a conversion to imperial units when you cross into the US from Canada, or a prompt to contact a concierge to book a service.”

2020 lincoln aviator suv rear seats and cargo

Rear seats and cargo

Flexible second-row seats recline, adjust fore and aft, and slide forward for easy access to the third row, which is designed to comfortably accommodate six-footers. The Grand Touring’s location of the battery pack under the floor ensures that neither interior space nor cargo capacity are compromised by the plug-in hybrid drivetrain option. It even has a full-size spare tire.

Powertrain Options for Lincoln’s New SUV

Under the hood of all Aviators is a 3-liter, twin-turbo V6 engine that makes 400-horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Grand Touring model

In the Grand Touring model, the V6 is enhanced by a plug-in hybrid system that boosts the total available power to 450-horsepower and the torque to 600 lb-ft, thereby providing both performance and economy benefits. Lincoln has yet to release the available range from the battery pack.

2020 lincoln aviator suv sideview

Driving dynamics

The vehicle also features Lincoln’s most sophisticated suspension to date. An available air spring setup automatically lowers the SUV to greet the driver, while the adaptive damping system is linked to a forward-looking camera that reads the road ahead so that automatic adjustments can be made. An improved Co-Pilot360 Plus suite of driver assistance systems uses the same camera to add traffic-sign recognition to its armoury.

2019 Lincoln Aviator Release Date

Aviator will go on sale in all of Lincoln’s global markets in the summer of 2019, with the hybrid arriving a few months later. The company is hoping to build on the success of the refreshed and rebadged Nautilus we recently featured, and the well-received Navigator reviewed here, which recently became the first US vehicle to top J.D. Power’s APEAL study, which measures the emotional attachment and level of excitement that owners feel for their vehicles.

Pricing

US and Canadian pricing hasn’t been officially released but we’ll have that once announced.

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Based in Calgary, AB, Graham’s outlets include Autocar, Professional Motorsport World, Turnology.com and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology. A lifelong motorsports fan, he’s a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), the Guild of Motoring Writers and the Motor Press Guild, speaks German and collects Matchbox cars (at the same time).