The new 2020 Lincoln Aviator made its debut last week at the 2018 New York International Auto Show. Slated to launch in 2019 as a 2020 model, the three-row SUV rides on an all-new, rear-wheel-drive architecture and boasts a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine and an available plug-in hybrid option. All-wheel-drive will be available, too.
The deeper details like engine displacement, horsepower, and fuel economy projections are still under wraps, but Lincoln boldly proclaimed the Aviator’s hybrid powertrain will make the SUV “mightier than many supercars on the road today.”
According to Joy Falotico, Lincoln’s president, the automaker realizes the mid-size luxury crossover segment is booming. “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.”
Lincoln clearly used the Aviator’s name for its design inspiration. “In Aviator, the lines of the vehicle are streamlined,” says Lincoln Design Director David Woodhouse. “You have the stature and presence of the grille at the front, then the body and tail taper off – creating a distinct aerofoil analogy.”
The roofline slopes dramatically toward the rear while the SUV’s beltline rides low and close to the large wheel wells. Intricate details within the headlights and taillights give it a sophisticated appearance, while other details like the quad exhaust pipes and Aviator badge just ahead of the side mirrors lend a more purposeful touch.
Minimal yet thoughtfully placed chrome decorates the exterior. Sharply creased body panels accent the brightwork. The overall design is both richly detailed and minimalistic. Unfortunately, this is only a pre-production model. Lincoln hasn’t finalized the finished product, but we’re betting this is 98 percent accurate of what will arrive in showrooms.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator borrow its interior inspiration from its big brother, the new-for-2018 Lincoln Navigator. A low, wide dashboard is dominated by a digital gauge cluster and large infotainment screen. Turned aluminum accents are said to recall the gauges of early aircraft.
A wide center console offers tons of storage space and wireless phone charging. Lincoln smartly copied the Navigator’s toggle-switch gear shifter located just above the radio volume knob. Rear seat passengers enjoy their own HVAC controls and a panoramic glass roof. Third-row accommodations seat two people, giving the Aviator a total of seven seats. Front occupants will love the Perfect Position seats with 30-way adjustability and massaging. Heating and ventilation are also present, of course.
Lincoln is upping its game with cutting-edge technology, too. Debuting with the Aviator is the automaker’s aptly named “Phone as a Key” system. Basically, users can leave their traditional key fob at home and use their smart phone to unlock and start their vehicle. The phone-based application also saves seat and radio preferences, as well.
Once driving, the Aviator boasts all the modern active safety systems encapsulated in the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 system. It includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert, lane keeping system, auto high beams, and a backup camera.
Details of the powertrain are scarce, but Lincoln did say a twin-turbocharged engine is standard and a plug-in hybrid version is available. Our guess is Lincoln will borrow the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 from the Ford F-150. In that application, the engine makes 325 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.
Being rear-wheel-drive, Lincoln is almost certainly going to use Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission found in the F-150 and new Navigator. Customers needing all-weather traction will be able to get an AWD system we presume will be a full-time system that coordinates with the Aviator’s various drive modes.
As for the hybrid side of things, the plug-in version will operate on battery power alone, giving it full EV status. The EcoBoost engine will then kick on when battery levels reach a certain level or more power is needed for acceleration than the battery alone can provide.
We are still waiting on the battery specs, driving range, and fuel economy estimates from Lincoln.
We expect the Lincoln Aviator will arrive sometime in mid-2019 as a 2020 model. That put it roughly a year away, giving Lincoln plenty of time to finalize the powertrain, four-wheel independent suspension system, and other greasy bits.
As for pricing, expect the 2020 Lincoln Aviator to carry a premium price. We’re betting it will start around $45,000 – roughly $2,000 more than the outgoing MKT crossover. That puts the Aviator some $27,000 under the base price for the 2018 Navigator, Lincoln’s flagship SUV. On the opposite side, the new 2019 Nautilus will offer similar styling but with two rows of seating and a more palatable starting price.
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