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Upmarket sibling of the new Ford Explorer intends to take on the BMW X5 across the pond
28 November 2019
Lincoln Aviator Black Label 2019

What is it?

The latest model from Ford's upmarket division is a more relaxed take on the performance SUV. The new Aviator revives a nameplate last used in 2005 and is once again a rebodied version of the Ford Explorer.

Despite a close under-skin relationship, the Aviator has unique bodywork and is pitched and priced as an alternative to European and Japanese premium SUVs. 

Although smaller than the Navigator, the Aviator is still a sizeable beast, being just over five metres long and having three rows of seats as standard. All versions use a longitudinally mounted version of Ford’s twin-turbocharged petrol 3.0-litre V6 making 400bhp and working in conjunction with a 10-speed automatic gearbox.

The Aviator has rear-wheel drive as standard, while the plusher Black Label version tested here is a 4x4. There's also the range-topping Grand Touring plug-in hybrid, with a total output of 494bhp but also a serious 2573kg kerbweight (by American methodology). The regular AWD petrol is a relatively svelte 2218kg.

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What's it like?

The Aviator has a relaxed demeanor that's reminiscent of the previous-generation Range Rover. Performance is acceptably brisk, although some way short of the sports car acceleration that has become common to the segment, and it's immediately obvious that Lincoln has prioritized comfort over dynamic precision. The engine has plenty of low-down muscle and is happiest when asked to deliver near-silent cruising. Yet it's also enthusiastic when poked from its slumbers, revving keenly and sounding pretty good for a V6 when working hard. 

Like most of Ford’s bigger offerings, the Aviator comes with the 10-speed auto 'box that was jointly developed with General Motors. It works extremely well under gentle use, blending changes almost imperceptibly, but requests for harder acceleration are often met by a noticeable pause as it tries to work out how many of its many ratios to shed. Lincoln doesn’t use conventional gearshifters, rather buttons on the dashboard, but it's possible to manually select gears through paddles behind the steering wheel.

The entry-level Aviator rides on steel springs and has passive dampers, but four-wheel-drive versions are upgraded to active shock absorbers. Our test car was also fitted with the Dynamic Handling Package, which brings height-adjustable air suspension and a road-scanning camera system to help the dampers prepare for surface changes.

This seems good at dealing with individual bumps, but soft springing and the lack of any active anti-roll system also mean lots of roll under enthusiastic cornering, plus pitch and dive under acceleration and braking respectively. It doesn’t feel wallowy; the chassis is adept at rolling with the punches, but it just seems to take a lot of them. Grip levels are modest, and although the Aviator will travel at a reasonable lick, it's definitely happier making stately progress.

The interior is spacious and, for the most part, well-finished, although its design feels more old-fashioned than is normal in this part of the market. Heating and ventilation is still controlled by metal-milled knobs and piano black buttons, while the 10.1in touchscreen is modest for the segment, even if its interface is simple and easy to use.

More senior Aviators come with Lincoln’s 30-way adjustable ‘Perfect Position’ seats, which even have the option to vary the height of each side of the base cushion; there’s so much choice that we didn’t have long enough in the car to find an optimum setup, although it's no doubt there somewhere. Most materials feel appropriately classy, but there are still hard plastics, including the bases of the second-row seats. Space is good back there, but the third row is only really suited for part-time use, being cramped and having much less padding than the other chairs. 

Should I buy one?

Lincoln exists outside the US, but there are no plans to bring the brand to Europe. Indeed, right-hand drive markets are even denied the Explorer it shares its mechanical package with. In the Aviator's home market, its biggest problem is definitely the one with the dollar sign in front of it.

The basic rear-driven model starts at $52,195 (currently £40,520) the AWD Black Label is $81,790 (£63,490) and the PHEV Black Label is $88,895 (£69,000). The Dynamic Handling Package adds $3000 (£2330). Those are prices that put it into direct contention with plusher versions of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLERange Rover Sport and even Porsche Cayenne. Sure, the Lincoln is nice, but it's not that nice.

Lincoln Aviator Black Label specification

Where US Price $52,195 On sale Now (US) Engine 2998cc, V6, twin-turbocharged, petrol Power 400bhp at 6000rpm Torque 415lb ft at 2000rpm Gearbox 10-spd automatic Kerb weight 2218kg Top speed tbc 0-62mph 6.0sec Fuel economy na CO2 na Rivals Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5

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Comments
16

28 November 2019

Nobody with a brain will pay sticker prices for any new car!   Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Land Rover etc. are mostly leased cars in America because the depreciation and after warranty costs are staggering. Domestic products have much better reliability and service cost the only truly safe bet is a Toyota/Lexus product.

28 November 2019
mesumguy wrote:

Nobody with a brain will pay sticker prices for any new car!   Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Land Rover etc. are mostly leased cars in America because the depreciation and after warranty costs are staggering. Domestic products have much better reliability and service cost the only truly safe bet is a Toyota/Lexus product.

i have a 4.5 year old Skoda Octavia.  It is a brilliant car.  It has never missed a beat and has never even hinted that anything is about to go wrong with it.  Are you seriously trying to suggest that a Toyota would be a better bet?

28 November 2019
martin_66 wrote:

mesumguy wrote:

Nobody with a brain will pay sticker prices for any new car!   Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Land Rover etc. are mostly leased cars in America because the depreciation and after warranty costs are staggering. Domestic products have much better reliability and service cost the only truly safe bet is a Toyota/Lexus product.

i have a 4.5 year old Skoda Octavia.  It is a brilliant car.  It has never missed a beat and has never even hinted that anything is about to go wrong with it.  Are you seriously trying to suggest that a Toyota would be a better bet?

I agree, Skoda's are pretty good cars, no doubt, but I think his post was referring more to the cost difference between European and domestic market cars in the USA and why this thing may do better than the review implied. I wouldn't know personally but I quite like the look of it.

2 December 2019

As most Americans who own not lease Audi, Porsche and VW cars (RR is another story ). They are terrific to drive, have thoughtful design and class leading safety. However, the moment the warranty ends your wallet instantly becomes lighter! They  are not built to the same level as European cars except for a few specific model variants and do not have the same level of dealership or aftermarket parts support. An American car may not be built as well as a Lexus/ Toyota but dealers are everywhere and parts are very affordable the quality gap has become increasingly tighter. Nothing beats a Toyota Corolla or Camry for devouring highway commuter miles with just basic maintenance and fuel. Something tuned on the ring won't really help in wall to wall traffic on failing roads with angry drivers.

28 November 2019

It’s a Lincoln.  An American brand that is not sold in Europe.  It will not be sold in right hand drive.

And.........the point of this review on a British car website is ?

28 November 2019
martin_66 wrote:

It’s a Lincoln.  An American brand that is not sold in Europe.  It will not be sold in right hand drive.

And.........the point of this review on a British car website is ?

 

Wider interest? I don't really see what the problem is... if you're not interested don't read it.

Context is everything, and this Lincoln is in the spirit of those old full size sedans - homely cabin and a cushy ride to ease away those long journeys on crummy American roads. Seems fit for purpose.

28 November 2019

 Because Autocar is sold there?

28 November 2019
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Because Autocar is sold there?

And the American car buying public looks for reviews of American market cars on a British car website do they?  Really?

28 November 2019
martin_66 wrote:

It’s a Lincoln.  An American brand that is not sold in Europe.  It will not be sold in right hand drive.

And.........the point of this review on a British car website is ?

Well they review Rolls Royce Phantoms and Maclaren Senna's etc, but I bet more British people will drive this Lincoln or it's Explorer cousin as holiday rentals than will ever get behind the wheel of those British cars.

28 November 2019
martin_66 wrote:

It’s a Lincoln.  An American brand that is not sold in Europe.  It will not be sold in right hand drive.

And.........the point of this review on a British car website is ?

 

have you not noticed most of the 'slideshow' articles are skewed at Americans/ the American market? This site must get a fair amount of US traffic for some reason.  

I always like to see info on models we don't get here, so no complaints about this article from me. 

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