Lincoln is reviving the Aviator name after 13 years of dormancy. The luxury automaker will debut the 2020 Aviator at the 2018 New York Auto Show on March 28. As a teaser, Lincoln released a short teaser video showing only the SUV’s badges, including the illuminated Lincoln cross on the front grille.
While official news is sparse, Lincoln’s short press release did mention the brand’s “commitment to electrification across its lineup.” That’s a clear indication the Aviator will have a hybrid powertrain offering.
What Model Year?
A 2018 debut at the NY Auto Show means the SUV will likely arrive in showrooms in mid-2019 as a 2020 model. That also lines up with Ford’s next-generation Explorer, which is slated to be a 2020 model. Not surprisingly, history is likely repeating itself as the Aviator is expected to be based on the Explorer.
The Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator might share the same architecture and powertrain, but the pair will look completely different. Lincoln designers have already proven their ability to differentiate shared models with the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. The 2020 Aviator will probably share many styling cues with the Navigator.
Inside, the cabin will be wrapped in high-grade materials, soft-touch leathers, and real wood and metal accents. The Navigator has arguably the swankest interior of any American SUV, and that appeal will surely trickle down into the Aviator.
As for passenger space, we expect the Aviator to share its seating arrangement with the Explorer. That means the SUV will hold seven passengers in a 2+3+2 configuration. Optionally, the second-row bench seat can be traded for captain’s chairs on upper trim levels. And like any good SUV, the rear seats will fold flat for hauling larger cargo.
Expect Lincoln’s latest in in-dash and entertainment technology. SYNC3 with Alexa connectivity will undoubtedly be included, along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and turn-by-turn GPS.
As part of Ford’s ongoing quest to electrify its entire lineup, the 2020 Lincoln Aviator is expected to get a hybrid powertrain – at least as an option. Rumors have surfaced regarding the development of a hybrid powertrain for the 2020 Ford Explorer, so the jump into the Aviator isn’t a big stretch at all. Several sources say Ford will offer the Explorer Hybrid as a plug-in variety. That means it will likely have an all-electric mode offering emissions-free driving for a short distance. Again, this is expected in the 2020 Aviator, as well.
As for the non-hybrid powertrain, speculation on the 2020 Explorer suggests four engine options, including the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, the 3.3-liter V-6 found in the 2018 F-150, and the 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 found in the Lincoln Continental and MKZ.
Since the Lincoln Aviator is marketed at the premium segment, expect only the 3.0-liter EcoBoost. In the Continental, the twin-turbo engine kicks out a respectable 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.
Oh, and get this – the Explorer and Aviator are likely rear-wheel drive. Yep, Ford is expected to revert back to a traditional rear-drive setup in the Explorer with AWD or a part-time 4WD system being optional. As for the Lincoln, rear drive and AWD will likely be the two choices, as a robust 4WD system doesn’t fit Lincoln’s classy persona.
Talking money at this point is always hard, but the Aviator will undoubtedly slot under the Navigator and above the MKT. Since the MKT starts at $43,530 and the Navigator starts at $72,055, we’d bet the 2020 Aviator will have an MSRP of around $50,000. That also puts the Aviator roughly $18,000 above the 2018 Ford Explorer’s base price of $32,140.
Naturally, options and higher-end features will cost more, likely pushing a fully loaded Aviator towards the price of a base-trimmed Navigator. As for why someone would choose the Aviator over the Navigator, well, beyond price, it would come down to size. The Aviator will be smaller than the Navigator despite having the same number of seats. It will also ride on a unibody chassis, which should get help improve fuel efficiency. Those needed to tow or haul more cargo behind the third-row seat will need the Navigator’s larger dimensions.
The details of Lincoln’s new mid-size luxury crossover will be available come Wednesday, March 28 at the New York Auto Show.
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