USED: 2020 Lincoln Aviator Review: The Innovative, Thoughtful Luxury 3-Row SUV That Considers How You Live 

Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

You need to live like this. Really, you do.

There was a woman who lived in my neighborhood in Connecticut who drove a Lincoln Navigator. She had three kids and I’d see her in passing as she drove to school, activities and the grocery store. 

I’d often also see her pulling into her driveway. One day my husband was with me and he chuckled as her black Navigator rounded the curb and parked in front of a modest Cape Cod.

“Her car is bigger than her house!” he remarked in amazement. 

But, I get it. 

It used to be that our car was a reflection of our tax bracket and ego—and certainly it still can be. But for many, it’s another room that we live in, and one that we invest in so it’s as comfortable as a feather-and-memory-foam mattress and as chic as our waterfall marble kitchen island. None of these things mean you have to be in the 1% or as self important as a master of the universe.

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Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

View from the driver’s seat in the Lincoln Aviator shows the ergonomic, easy-to-reach layout. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Your Car = Your Sanity. Don’t Skimp On This

I knew I’d walk away from a week with the Lincoln Aviator feeling spoiled. I just didn’t realize how spoiled. Sometimes I forget that I need to live like this.

A car isn’t just a car. It’s all about what works for your life, your routine and your family. And then, it’s about what makes your life not just easy, but pleasant. This is the magic of the Lincoln Aviator: a family car with room for everyone that makes life pleasant for all, not just the driver. 

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Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

The Aviator’s center console with under-console storage and ambient lighting. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What We Loved About 2020 Lincoln Aviator

  • Massaging front leather seats
  • Second row captains chairs and easy to access 3rd row
  • Child passenger safety seat LATCH anchors in all 4 rear seats
  • 30 way electric seats with adjustable headrest and seat back
  • The Aviator “embrace” that lowers the car when you approach or unlock the doors 
  • Smart key and light system that opens the doors and illuminates door handles when you approach 
  • “Touch” electric exterior and interior door handles 
  • Lincoln logo ‘puddle light’ 
  • This steering wheel! Buttons for everything, and most light up only when you need them
  • Drive modes including Conserve (eco), Excite (sport) Slippery (rain/snow/gravel) and Deep Conditions (snow/sand)
  • The premium Revel Sound System
  • Head up display 
  • Motion activated lift gate 
  • Panoramic sun roof
  • Wireless phone charging 
  • Ambient lighting with a range of colors!
  • Driver assist and safety features (called Co-Pilot 360) that include adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlights, blind spot monitors, lane keep and steering assist, road sign recognition, pre-collision braking
  • 24/7 roadside assistance

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Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

Seating for 6 is ample and comfortable in the Lincoln Aviator; the third row is easy to get into and the panoramic sun roof makes the cabin feel airy. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who the 2020 Lincoln Aviator is For

  • Families, especially those with 3 or 4 kids
  • Drivers who need a larger cargo area 
  • Buyers who need a full-size SUV but don’t want the weight and size of a Navigator
  • Drivers who spend a lot of time in the car and can appreciate all the conveniences and comforts 
  • Drivers who need a full size SUV that is easier to get in and out of than something as large as the Navigator
  • Buyers who want a more refined yet capable SUV
  • Buyers who appreciate true luxury 

2020 Lincoln Aviator: This Luxury 7 Seater SUV Sets New Standards for American Luxury

Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

A rear view of the Lincoln Aviator. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What The 2020 Lincoln Aviator Costs 

Many of the features on the premium editions can be added the Standard base model or the Reserve edition, so it’s easy to outfit the Aviator the way you want it. But even at the base model it’s pretty nicely outfitted. Here’s what you get at each level:

  • Standard edition, which includes a turbo charged V6 400 HP engine, drive mode selector, rear wheel drive, Co-Pilot 360 safety system with lane keep assist and blind spot monitors, 10.1” center console display, remote start, 4 USB ports and a 110 V household outlet in the second row, intelligent access  with push button start, Lincoln “soft touch” seating, heated front seats and 19” wheels, $51,100
  • Reserve edition, which adds power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, Lincoln Embrace, remote start, 360 degree surround view camera, symphonic chimes, wifi, Revel 14-speaker audio, leather seats, power fold 3rd row, 12-way power front seats, 20” wheels, capless fuel filler, auto-fold side mirrors, $56,190
  • Grand Touring, which adds a hybrid transmission with 494 horsepower, panoramic sun roof, premium leather seats, second-row captains chairs with tilt-and-slide, air glide suspension that lowers the car upon entry, adaptive suspension, all wheel drive, $68,800
  • Black Label, which adds heated and vented front and second row seats, 30-way electric adjustable massaging front seats, Phone as a Key, enhanced drive assist features including traffic jam assist, lane centering, stop and go cruise control and speed sign recognition, active park assist semi-autonomous parking, heated wipers, heated steering wheel, upgraded Revel premium sound system with 28 speakers, 22” wheels, head up display, Phone-as-a-Key and Black Label membership benefits which include exclusive interior detail packages, complimentary maintenance, vehicle pick up and delivery, concierge services and travel and dining perks, $77,695
  • Black Label Touring edition, which adds hybrid motor system and a few options such as a rear seat console with entertainment and panoramic sun roof shade controls, starts at $87,800
  • Add the hybrid motor system upgrade: $10,105-$12,600, depending on the model
  • Add all wheel drive: $2,510
  • Add a panoramic sun roof and enhanced driver assist and safety features to the Reserve edition: $4,930
  • Delivery charge: $1,095
  • Price of the BlackLabel model we drove, about $82,435
Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

Aviator’s front end lights. Photo:  Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know 

  • Bumper to bumper warranty 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Power train warranty 6 years/70,000 miles 
  • 41.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, 18.3 cubic feet of space behind the third row
  • Some of Aviator’s best features like the Hybrid motor and the symphonic chimes, are only available at the higher trim levels
  • Seating for 7 with a center row bench seat, for 6 with center row captains chairs
  • Fuel economy estimated at 18 city/26 highway in the gas model; 30 city/34 highway in the hybrid model — and that’s assuming you don’t fall to the temptation of putting all 494 horsepower to work! 
Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

Power in the second row includes two rear seat USB ports, one standard and one C style, and a household plug. ? Scotty Reiss

Innovative Features That Really Change Your Day

Any luxury car can offer massaging seats and designer handbag quality leather. But it’s the little things that Lincoln designed into the Aviator that set it apart. Like the symphonic chimes that greet you when you get into the car or that remind you that someone hasn’t buckled a seatbelt. They are a delight, not an annoyance. 

I also really love that the door handles have no moving parts. They are electric touch-sensors with a soft rubber pad similar to those typically found under the rear of a tail gate or trunk lid; simply press it lightly and the door pops open—both inside and outside. This means no pinched fingers or broken nails, and that is a graceful thing.

And the phone as key feature. I was able to try this out briefly when I first test drove the Aviator; unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky this time, but I get it and would love to have this on my car. Not only can you start and drive the car with a phone app, but you can ‘give’ the key to someone else with the app and just as easily take it away. As in, leave it at the airport for someone else to pick up, leave it at the train station for whoever gets home from the city first, hand a key off to a baby sitter or nanny to drive.  

Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

Driving the aviator, driver feedback includes a fuel efficiency meter (and note the classic Lincoln Continental ahead of us!). Photo: Scotty Reiss

Yes, It Has a Plug-in Hybrid Option, But This Hybrid Does Double Duty

And that’s what is so cool about the Aviator hybrid: Yes, you can drive it in eco mode (Conserve mode, in Aviator speak) and get 34 MPG. Or, you can optimize it for sport driving for faster, more responsive driving, such as passing a truck on the highway or really enjoying your drive along a winding, hilly highway with a full load of passengers and luggage. 

If you’re super efficient with your driving, you might be able to drive only using electric, which is about an 18 mile range. I could see making the daily round trip to school and shopping only on electric and not having to hit the gas station quite as often, which is a nice perk—and if you’re super focused on this, you might be able to actually recoup some of the added cost of the hybrid model.

This is something buyers will need to think through; the price difference is about $2,500 and the hybrid is only available in the higher-tier models (which of course, come equipped with some other nice features, too). 

I’d choose the economical feature of this every time, as well as optimizing deceleration paddles that funnel unused energy back into the battery for even better fuel efficiency, but that’s me.

Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

The Lincoln Aviator has snow mode so it’s prepared for a pop-up snow storm. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Aviator: A Little Backgrounder

If the name of this car is unfamiliar, that’s because it’s new to the market. Lincoln, in redefining the brand, needed to fill this all-important category: A full-sized SUV that is not as large or as  pricey as the Navigator but offers many of the same advantages, including a 3rd row, seating for 7 and a new level of luxury and experience. 

The Aviator delivers on Lincoln’s promise. It’s refined, elegant, luxurious and intuitive; it delivers things you want or need before you think you want or need it. That is the essence of luxury: intuitive thoughtfulness. 

Introduced just last year, the Aviator entered a frenzy of competition, defined not just by the new Cadillac XT6, which also seats 7 and delivers a truly luxe experience, and the coming Genesis GV80 as well as standards like the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Audi Q7, the new BMW X7, Infiniti QX60 and Lexus GX460.

Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

I had to stop at Bojangles on my drive through Georgia. Because, Bojangles!. Photo:  Scotty Reiss

The Aviator Promise: Uncompromised Luxury and Innovative Solutions 

This is the part I love about Aviator the most: all the innovations. And they are not huge innovations, but rather, smaller quality-of-life innovations that make your time in the car so much more enjoyable. 

Like the door chimes. They are just that: chimes, real, musical, lyrical chimes that are performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. 

If you are one of those people  who is in and out of the car more than a dozen times a day you’ll really appreciate this. In a typical car you learn to tune out the electronic chimes because they are annoying. But during my test drive I found myself listening to the pluck of the string instruments each time I opened the car door. Every single time, a dozen times a day and counting. 

And, if you’re like me and don’t buckle your seatbelt until you get to the end of the driveway so you can be sure you have everything you need in its place, or that you can easily hop out of the car to get the mail, you’ll really appreciate the chimes rather than the annoying BING BING BING of typical seat belt reminders. The chimes are elegant, like everything else in this car. And I love how innovative it was to hire an orchestra to perform them! 

Lincoln Aviator Luxury 3 Row Suv

The Lincoln Embrace includes lighted door handles and a puddle light that illuminates the ground next to the car when it’s dark. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Other Refinements That I Really Appreciated: 

  • Massaging seats: I loved turning these on for my unwitting passengers and seeing a smile appear
  • The 30 way electric seats: You can move just the headrest, or just the upper seat back or both so it fits your needs that day without having to move the whole seat (and re adjust the mirrors!)
  • The Aviator “embrace”: The car lowers when you approach or unlock the doors to make getting in easier; when it’s dark you’ll see the Lincoln logo ‘puddle light’ illuminate the ground next to the door 
  • Smart key and light system that opens the doors and illuminates door handles when you approach
  • “Touch” door handles that open with a gentle squeeze of the handle (so, no moving parts to pinch little fingers!) and on the inside, a simple press of a button opens the door
  • The steering wheel, which has radio and driver information buttons and easy to see adaptive cruise controls along the center core; with your fingers on the back side of each button, pull them forward to engage ACC, increase or reduce your speed and set your follow distance
  • The redesigned and more ergonomic center console: literally everything is at your fingertips, from infotainment controls to climate, volume, drive mode and the push button gear selector
  • The Revel Sound System— This is Lincoln’s bespoke sound system and a version of it is available on all but the Standard model 
  • Exhaust pipes that are vented downward to deflect exhaust away from the rear of the car
  • Ambient lighting with a range of colors!
  • Driver assist and safety features (called Co-Pilot 360) that include adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlights, blind spot monitors, lane keep and steering assist, road sign recognition, pre-collision braking
  • 24/7 roadside assistance, which I took advantage of during my test drive and BOY was I glad I could!

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our obligations and self-punishing needs vs. wants debates that we forget that taking care of ourselves and our families is what matters most. Until you drive a car like this, and your expectations and priorities are reset. All for the better.

What We Listened to in the Lincoln Aviator

This car demands cool tune and sing-alongs. So we did both!

Disclosure: Lincoln provided the Aviator for this review but all opinions are my own. And a bit more: it turned out to be a very tough week; I was visiting my family to help my mom enter hospice and just a week later, she passed away. It was a comfort to be able to get into the Aviator and crank up the music and the heated seats, to make my dad chuckle at the seat massage, to pile a bunch of people into the car to escape to dinner for the evening, to pop the system into snow mode when a snow storm made the roads slick. And to be able to spend precious time together.   

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss