You need to live like this.
Lincoln has long been a flagship of American luxury. The Continental was the pinnacle of chauffeured goodness, and when you pulled up in a Navigator, you’d arrived.
A few years ago Lincoln quietly began plotting its next era of design, technology and passenger pampering. Over the last few years, the company has rolled out subtle changes and foundational pillars that, over time, have been woven into the fabric of the brand’s soul: service, luxury, intuitive design.
The New Flagship: The Lincoln Aviator
The Lincoln Aviator is now the pinnacle of the Lincoln family: It represents what the brand embodies and where it’s heading, re-thinking and innovating what you want and need in a luxury car. The brand’s shepherds describe the Aviator as “quiet flight,” and we are likely to see more aeronautical terms and references from the Lincoln brand. The freedom and confidence to soar are central to the brand’s inspirations.
The Aviator embodies this idea in what we want and need in a luxury SUV: More Bentley-inspired than luxified-truck, it seats 6 or 7 passengers, is loaded with cutting-edge technology, comfort, sustainability, and a rewarding drive experience. And, it’s no coincidence this 3-row SUV is where Lincoln showcases so many innovations; the category is the most coveted of cars and is where a brand can win or lose the marketplace battle.
Lincoln Aviator Pricing:
- Starting price for the twin-turbo 400 HP V6 gas engine, leather seats, 4 USB ports, a household outlet, heated front seats, Embrace welcome experience with symphonic chimes, tip, and slide center seats, power third row, lower anchor tethers in center outboard seats, $51,500,
- Reserve edition adds Lincoln’s CoPilot 360 suite of driver-assist and safety features, $57,900
- All-wheel drive (add to the gas model) adds $2,500
- The Reserve package adds a with a panoramic sunroof, second row captains chairs and a rear seat console, ventilated leather seating and a Revel 14 speaker sound system for $4,390
- Reserve II Package upgrades the Reserve package with dynamic lighting, towing, 30-way seats, upgraded Revel sound system for $11,625
- A convenience package adds head up display, Phone as Key and wireless charging, $2,200
- Grand Touring plug-in electric hybrid with 494 horsepower and about 20 miles of pure electric driving range adds a panoramic sunroof, all-wheel drive and most of the Reserve luxury features, $68,800
- Grand Touring package I adds second row captains chairs and a rear seat console, dynamic lighting and CoPilot 360, add $7,880
- Grand Touring Package II adds towing, 30-way seats, upgraded Revel sound system for $14,950
- Fully loaded Grand Touring, about $86,000
- Black Label edition, which comes fully loaded and includes Black Label ownership experience benefits, about $79,000
- Black Label Grand Touring plug-in hybrid is about $89,500
It’s worth noting that the PHEV models may qualify for up to 7500 in federal tax credits and additional state credits, as well as the other perks of electric car ownership like free charging, designated parking and HOV or EV lane access on some freeways,
Standout Details That Add Up to a Sublime Experience
Aviator took on many of the human challenges that large SUVs can pose. Literally, the Lincoln team re-thought hundreds—if not thousands—of the functions, details, and experiences in an SUV, tailoring each to craft to an amazing overall experience. Of all those details, these are some of my favorites. There are more stories to come; we only spent a day in the Aviator, and that’s not nearly enough to learn all the magical treats this car holds.
The Aviator Embrace —
The Aviator greets you with a sublime show: When you click the fob to open the car (or, approach with the key in your pocket or unlock it with your phone) the car’s air suspension lowers it to make getting in a bit easier, the interior lights gradually warm, and once the engine is started, the driver information and infotainment screens are filled with an animation of clouds and blue sky. Welcome to the Aviator.
Sublime chimes —
Those beeping reminders to fasten your seatbelt, to close your door, that you’ve left the car in drive have been replaced with the sweeping, plucking delight of the string section of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. And they are delightful. I could get used this very quickly.
Door handles with no moving parts —
No pinched fingers, no broken nails, both on the outside and on the inside. Outside, the front and rear door handles are solid sculptures with a button on the inside that pops the door open with a light squeeze. Inside, the door panels feature a leather-lined grip and an electric button that once pushed, pops the door open (and fear not, there’s a manual release button on the lower portion of the door panel in the event that the car loses power).
A modernized gear selector —
Lincoln was one of the first brands to switch to a push-button gear selector, both modernizing the function of the car and opening up storage and design possibilities; an electric gear selector takes up much less space than a mechanical one, giving you more console storage and open space.
The configuration in the Aviator— the buttons align along the lower dashboard — frees up console space for other functions like climate, radio and plenty of storage cubbies. But here’s what we loved the most: If you forget to put the car into park and open the driver’s side door, the transmission pops into park as a default. Safe and sound.
Phone as a key —
Yes, you can control the Aviator with your phone. We tried this out and it seemed to work fine, though there’s a lot to learn, and I could definitely take a week or two and some coaching to become skilled with it. At one point we left the car running while we were talking and getting in and out of the car, and had to restart the car to reset the connection.
Basically, you can start and operate your car with your phone (and without a key physically present) via Bluetooth when your phone is within a short distance from the car. You can also:
- Generate a backup code for unlocking and driving the Aviator if the phone is lost or your phone battery dies;
- Use a backup code instead of your phone if you want to leave your phone at home or in the car for a morning run, a trip to the gym or someplace where you don’t want to take a phone;
- Set a valet mode so a numerical code opens and drives the car; this can be done on the app, and if you need to, you can enable or delete a phone user, such as a nanny or teen driver. Get used to this idea, it’s the future;
- These functions and others, such as remote start and climate settings, can also be operated via the Lincoln Way phone app;
- The app can be deleted remotely from a phone that is lost or stolen.
Redesigned steering wheel —
We love steering wheel controls, but this design takes it up a notch: adaptive cruise control buttons along the center sides of the steering wheel light up when cruise control is engaged; when you’re not using it, they are demurely out of the way, not cluttering your view. So elegant! Lincoln also added a voice control button on the upper left section of the steering wheel near the thumb rest. I did tap this inadvertently a few times but quickly learned to avoid it.
Innovative front seats —
Probably my favorite part of these seats (part of a premium upgrade package) is the 30-way setting, including an adjustable headrest (hello ponytail!), so you can find the perfect seat position. The seats have a Scandinavian look with a cushion and exo-frame design and take up less space in the cabin but still have a comfortable, cushiony feel, even on long drives. And, there is a massage option for both the driver’s and passenger’s seat.
Revel Sound System —
This premium sound system from Harman/Kardon takes a bespoke approach to place sound inside the cabin. 14 speakers in the Reserve model and 28 speakers in the premium level have been strategically tuned and positioned throughout the cabin, including in the ceiling, so every passenger has a front row seat to the entertainment.
A plug-in hybrid option —
The PHEV in the Grand Touring Edition not only allows you to plug in the Aviator for 20 miles of electric driving but allows slightly better fuel economy than the gas engine model. The front wheel drive gas model is estimated to get about 21 MPG; the all-wheel-drive gas model is estimated to get about 20 MPG; the all-wheel-drive PHEV is estimated to average about 21 MPG gas and electric combined (though it’s possible to achieve much better with regular charging).
Or, use that electric power to truly put wind under your wings. The PHEV also capitalizes on the thrilling benefit of electric driving: more power and torque. The Grand Touring adds 94 horsepower, taking it up to 494 HP vs 400 HP in the gas model. This results in TONS of power on the highway, great for ferrying a full passenger load, a roof rack or just putting all its muscle into every curve and hill.
More Fun than you Should have in an SUV this Size
I found the drive experience to be more than a little fun, especially in the Grand Touring PHEV; the Aviator’s gliding adaptive suspension system handled curvy, hilly roads like a boss, and the engine’s power allowed me to easily pass slower traffic on fairly steep grades. It was quite impressive.
This last detail might be among the most compelling, believe it or not. I’m not usually swayed by overly large engines or over-the-top power. But Lincoln’s approach to the PHEV takes the Aviator puts it in an exclusive class of vehicles, right where an icon of luxury should be.
The Aviator is true luxury. It is quiet. It is flight. And it is awesome.
What We Listened to in the Lincoln Aviator
The Revel sound system inspired a wide range of listening choices. This is what sounded really great in the Aviator. And yes, we sang out loud!
Disclosure: I was Lincoln’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.