What Is It?
About 10 years ago Lincoln’s aging product lineup resulted in continually diminishing vehicle sales, and it seemed as though Ford’s luxury brand would not survive. Through restructuring and refocusing, Lincoln Motor Company found its way forward with a full line of luxury SUVs, including the all-new 2020 Aviator. With elegant styling, luxurious amenities and an efficient yet potent hybrid powertrain, the 2020 Lincoln Aviator GT makes a big splash in a veritable sea of midsize luxury SUVs.
For testing Lincoln provided a 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring AWD painted in Magnetic Gray Metallic. The Grand Touring resides near the top of the Aviator lineup and has a long list of standard equipment. The test Aviator included the Grand Touring II package which adds practically every conceivable option, including a Dynamic Handling Package, Perfect Position Seats, Revel Ultima 3D Audio System, second-row captain’s chairs and 21-inch wheels for a total MSRP of $83,245. Competitors to the Aviator GT include the Lexus RX, Cadillac XT6, Audi Q7, Jaguar F-PACE, Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5.
In keeping with Lincoln’s SUV lineup, the Aviator sports the brand’s signature grille, although it features a blue Lincoln logo in a subtle nod to the vehicle’s hybrid powertrain. Both LED headlights and fog lights are standard equipment. The sculpted hood evokes an impression of air flowing from the grille and headlights, giving the Aviator a strong stance. When the driver approaches Aviator in darkness, the SUV comes alive with lights all around as well as puddle lights projecting the Lincoln logo on the ground.
In profile the Aviator’s proportions seem a bit odd. From its beltline to the ground the SUV is squared off front and rear, with a flat hood in keeping with a traditional SUV shape. However, the roofline slopes downward from the driver to the edge of the rear spoiler — a sporty line that seems at odds with the rest of the vehicle.
Powerful Rear View
At the rear Aviator sports quad exhaust outlets typically unexpected on a hybrid, although the ports do indicate this one possesses some power. Wraparound taillights and an LED light bar spanning the rear hatch give Aviator a wide, substantial look.
The interior of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator exudes elegant with tasteful touches of leather, wood and chrome throughout. At the center of the dash a large 10.1-inch LCD touchscreen display offers easy navigation and the latest SYNC infotainment system with voice activation. Normally the audio systems in most vehicles we review don’t require much elaboration. We can honestly say the Aviator’s available Revel Ultima 3D audio system with 28 speakers is one of the finest-sounding factory audio systems we’ve experienced.
With shift-by-wire technology, the Aviator’s gear selector is four simple switches — PRND. The selector takes up little space, freeing up the center console for climate and audio controls as well as plenty of storage.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator features two main controls for multiple functions — different selections light up depending on function. The voice-activation button sits on the inner-rim of the steering wheel, about where the driver’s left thumb should be. At first blush this seems like a perfect location; however, we accidentally activated the voice recognition system several times.
The doors of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator employ an electronic latch system rather than typical door handles. From the inside, doors are opened by the push of a button, which certainly adds a high-tech element to the SUV. However, this setup feels like technology simply for technology’s sake, and not really an improvement on the classic door handle.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator GT we drove featured Lincoln’s Perfect Position Seats, which have 30-way adjustment including powered thigh extensions and head restraints. (The head restraints are as comfortable as pillows.) The seats can also be heated and cooled, offering excellent comfort and support.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator GT provides plenty of room for second-row passengers, and standard captain’s chairs add another level of luxury. A large center console with cupholders and storage is also a plus. Rear-seat passengers can enjoy the large panoramic sunroof, or close the roof shade via controls in the center console. USB ports and climate controls add convenience and comfort for rear-seat occupants as well.
For third-row occupants of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator GT, legroom is in short supply — otherwise, it isn’t a bad place to ride. Configured with only two seats, the third row doesn’t feel cramped and the aforementioned panoramic sunroof eliminates any claustrophobia. The second row slides forward to provide a bit more legroom, and with the push of a button on the seatback the second row creates clearance for easy access to and from the third row.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator GT offers a decent amount of cargo space, even with all seats in place. The rear area has enough room for a few small suitcases or multiple grocery bags. Pushing a button in the cargo area folds each of the third-row seats up and down individually, depending on whether cargo or people take priority.
Under the Hood
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator GT houses a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine teamed with an electric motor to produce a combined 494 horsepower and an impressive 630 lb-ft of torque, making Aviator the most potent model in the Lincoln lineup. Power gets sent to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Aviator uses a lithium-ion battery pack consisting of 96 pouch-style cells stored beneath the SUV’s passenger compartment. With 13.6 kWh of energy, the Aviator GT can travel about 21 miles on electric power alone. According to Lincoln, a full charge can be obtained in three to four hours on a Level 2 charger. During our testing, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that a full charge could also be obtained with a standard 110-volt household outlet in about 11 hours, which works well overnight.
According to U.S. EPA fuel-economy testing, the 2020 Lincoln Aviator GT gets rated at 56 MPGe combined and 23 MPG combined once the battery has been depleted. The 21-mile reported range seems accurate. During our test drives we were able to travel between 18 and 22 miles on electric power alone and observed closer to 30 mpg overall (combined pure EV and hybrid operation).
On the Road
The first time we pressed hard on the throttle of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator GT, all we were thinking was “This is one hot rod Lincoln.” (With apologies to Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.) Aviator GT has incredible acceleration thanks to massive torque that comes on quickly. The SUV has multiple drive modes. One named Excite brings all the GT’s performance to bear, accompanied by a formidable exhaust note.
When we weren’t hot rodding from stoplights in the 2020 Lincoln Aviator GT, we cruised with stealth in full electric mode. Given the SUV’s heft, the hybrid system quickly taps into the gas engine when Aviator is under load (say, during hard acceleration or hill climbing). However, with a practiced right foot adept drivers can keep the Aviator in EV mode, even while accelerating to highway speeds.
During testing we were able to regain some electric range through the hybrid’s regenerative brake system. The Aviator’s brakes operate smoothly without being overly grabby, and they seem very efficient. Drivers who like feedback will enjoy a dash readout that displays braking efficiency after each stop — slowly coming to a stop gets a much better score than slamming on the brakes at the last second.
With the all-new Aviator, Lincoln goes all-in on the competitive midsize luxury SUV segment. Thanks to attractive styling paired with an elegant, high-tech interior, the Aviator will certainly hold its own among the competition. Add in a powerfully efficient AWD hybrid system and the 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring should certainly gain traction with luxury SUV shoppers.