A while back, Richard Russell thought Lincoln could not survive the fierce competition from European and Asian brands. After a week in the 2020 Lincoln Aviator, he admits he was wrong.
A few years ago I voiced the opinion that Lincoln would not survive. The brand was suffering in the face of competition from not only Europe, but Japan and South Korea. The product was old, lacklustre and strangely-named. The parent company seemed to have put all its eggs in the Ford basket.
I was wrong.
Lincoln has staged an impressive comeback. The various teams responsible for new product have developed a new ability to take a Ford-branded vehicle and transform it into something worthy of the Lincoln name. That has not been the case for the past couple of decades.
Platform sharing has become the industry norm.
The costs of developing a product capable of passing crash and emission standards runs into billions of dollars. Recovering that expense means spreading it over as many units as possible.
As an example, the Volkswagen group, the largest motor vehicle manufacturer in the world, developed the MLB (Modular Longitudinal Matrix) platform in 2012 and a second generation, known as MLB Evo, in 2017.
That same architecture is found beneath an astounding range of vehicles – Audi A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q5, Q7, Q8 e-tron, Porsche Macan, Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus!
Obviously, VW knows how to modify the visual bits to disguise the fact the heavy metal beneath a $50,000 Audi and a $250,000 Lamborghini are essentially the same!
Therein lies the premise for my review of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. This $100,600 (including HST), Lincoln shares its underpinnings with the $50,000 (also includes HST) Ford Explorer.
This Lincoln bears little to no resemblance to a Ford. The exterior styling is unique and readily identified as a current generation Lincoln. What really sets it apart is the interior. From the first second you open the door of an Aviator dressed in Reserve trim, you witness luxury done right.
The marketing team call it “the very best of the Lincoln brand”.
I call it world class, perfectly worthy of competing with high-end European and Asian luxury brands. Obviously, fit and finish have to be first rate. So too do the selection and quality of materials. But the design, the manner in which those materials are utilized, rewards not only your eyes but your hands. This is a handsome interior devoid of glitz and glamour. Those looking for ‘bling’ should look elsewhere.
Tastefully applied leather, brushed aluminum, and warm wood provides a visual delight. The rich-looking interior supplies plenty of space for four adults in the lap of luxury. The instrument panel design is linear with a large screen prominent in the centre, above a pad of four push buttons (P R N and D) for the transmission.
The ergonomics are well thought out, with the wide centre console and steering wheel providing ready access to both major and minor controls.
The second-row captain’s chairs provide lots of leg room for big adults. The third-row seats are best left to occasional use. I could not find a comfortable position in the heated and ventilated driver’s seat, despite a choice of 30 individual adjustments! Obviously, I did not spend enough time sorting this out.
That’s it for complaints or criticism.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator offers a veritable cornucopia of comfort, convenience, safety and entertainment features
As you’d expect at this price point, there is a full array of comfort and convenience features, many of them unique. The Sync 3 infotainment system is simple to use and has enough power and flexibility to suit all needs.
You can link your Lincoln to your smart phone, which can be left on a wireless charging pad when in the vehicle. A standard wi-fi hot spot will keep occupants happy and occupied. Personalized key fobs allow programming for up to 80 individual features – seating, mirror and pedal positions, climate control, entertainment settings and ambient lighting. The Aviator’s suspension system even lowers the vehicle to ‘greet’ you for easier entry as you approach.
A full array of active and passive safety features are standard as are a variety of driver-assist technologies. The heads-up display can also be customized. The washer nozzles are incorporated within the heated wiper blades.
The mid-size, three- row Lincoln Aviator is a premium vehicle in every respect.
Is the market ready for a $100,000 Lincoln? I’ll let Canadian consumers answer that question. But, if shopping in this arena, they would be well advised to check out the new Aviator.
Facts and Figures – 2020 Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD
As tested: $87,485 including freight
LED headlights, automatic high beams, pre-collision assist (automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning), lane keep assist and alert, blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert
Sync 3, smartphone integration, satellite radio, navigation
Burgundy Velvet metallic paint, $850; equipment group 202A, $9,000; convenience package, $2,000; dynamic handling package, $3,500; full rear console, $735.
3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, 400 horsepower, 415 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel. 10-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 13.7 / 9.7
Length, 5,062 mm; width, 2,283 (including mirrors), wheelbase, 3,025 mm; weight, 2,223 kg
Audi Q7, BMW X5, Cadillac XT6, Mercedes GLE, Porsche Cayenne, Volvo XC90.