Here’s What I Thought of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator
Lincoln has long been a flagship of American luxury. But a few years ago, the brand quietly began plotting its next era of design, technology and passenger pampering. Case in point: The new Lincoln Aviator SUV, which starts at $51,500 and tops out at $89,500 for the Black Label plug-in hybrid. It draws its inspiration more from a Bentley and less from a truck, seats six or seven passengers and is loaded with cutting-edge technology. Here’s what I love.
The Aviator EmbraceThe Aviator greets you with a divine 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 air suspension lowers (to make getting in 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.
Long gone are the beeping reminders to fasten your seatbelt, close your door or that you’ve left the car in drive. Here, you’ll get the sweeping, plucking delight of the string section of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Door handles with no moving parts
No pinched fingers, no broken nails. 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 doors feature a leather-lined grip and an electric button that, once pushed, pops the door open. (There’s also a manual release button in the event that the car loses power.)
A modernized gear selectorLincoln was one of the first brands to switch to a push-button gear selector, which takes up much less space than a mechanical one, giving you more console storage and open space. But here’s what I 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.
Phone as a key
Yes, you can control the Aviator with your phone. I tried this out and it seemed to work fine, though there’s a lot to learn, and I would definitely need a week or two and some coaching to become skilled with it.
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
- 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
- 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 wheelAdaptive cruise control buttons along the center sides of the steering wheel light up when cruise control is engaged, and when you’re not using it, they’re demurely out of the way, not cluttering your view. 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, yes, there is a massage option for both the driver and front passenger.
Revel Sound SystemThis premium sound system from Harman Kardon takes a bespoke approach. Fourteen 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.
Awesome drive experience
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. In short, the Aviator is in an exclusive class of vehicles, right where an icon of luxury should be.