The all-new 2020 Lincoln Aviator midsize luxury SUV will feature an electric-only driving mode and the most power of any vehicle in the brand's history when it goes on sale in summer 2019.
The sleek three-row SUV is vital to Lincoln's plan to return to relevance in the U.S. and Chinese markets. It rides on a brand new architecture and will be built alongside the next-generation Ford Explorer in Chicago. Lincoln will unveil the Aviator at the Los Angeles auto show Wednesday.
The interior features Lincoln signatures: modern design and handsome materials, particularly on the top-of-the-line Black Label model.
Premium looks, premium tech
"Lincoln is at a takeoff point," brand chief Joy Falotico said.
The Aviator's appearance echoes that sentiment. The side view is reminiscent of the tapered profile of an airplane wing. The roofline slopes down from windshield to tailgate while its rockers - the panels below the bottom of the doors - rise from front to rear wheels.
The SUV is loaded with technology to challenge the comfort, capability and performance of established luxury three-row SUVs like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.
Lincoln hasn't revealed prices, but the Aviator will cost less than the brand's bigger Navigator flagship SUV.
Expect a base rear-wheel-drive model, with prices possibly starting around $50,000. A loaded all-wheel-drive Aviator with the 450-hp-plus plug-in hybrid system could edge into the low $80,000s, the bottom of the Navigator price range.
What customers will like
- Interior wow factor. Lincoln's popular Black Label trim level will feature materials including leather upholstery that looks like vintage luggage, seat perforations that resemble Lincoln's star badge and open-pore wood trim with a horizontal grain to emphasize the feeling of interior space. Four-zone climate control allows different settings for all three rows of seats.
- Concert hall sound. An even more advanced version of Lincoln's Revel audio features four speakers in the headliner above the front and middle row of seats. Combined with digital processing, the result is a three-dimensional sound projection. Called Revel Ultima 3D, that system has 28 speakers.
- Lincoln also one-ups itself with luxurious seats that include new massage and lumbar features.
- Performance. The new architecture should deliver responsive handling, a comfortable ride and good towing capacity. The architecture is called CD6.
- Comfort. Air Glide, an adjustable air suspension that responds to road conditions and driving style, will be available. In addition to adapting to soften bumps in the road, the system will lower the Aviator for easy entry and exit and to improve aerodynamics at highway speed.
- Power and efficiency. The plug-in hybrid, called the Aviator Grand Touring, features a lithium-ion battery under the second-row seat. It will allow a hybrid mode, all-electric driving - at least 30 miles in electric mode seems a reasonable expectation - and generate 450-horsepower-plus and more than 600 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful vehicle in Lincoln's history.
- The base drivetrain is Lincoln's familiar 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 linked to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The Grand Touring plug-in hybrid teams the V6 with an electric motor built into the transmission.
- An app allows the owner to use a smartphone as a key to unlock and start the Aviator, even to actuate the remote start from long distance – like when you're in the shuttle from the airport to a vehicle that's been parked in subzero temperatures. The app can also remember each user's preferred settings for seat, mirrors, audio and climate settings.
- Adaptive cruise control with traffic-sign recognition that can change the programmed speed to match the legal limit.
- Hands-free automated parking. The Aviator will steer, brake and shift gears as needed to tuck itself into a parallel or perpendicular parking space. All the driver has to do is keep a finger on the automatic parking button.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press auto critic. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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