A powerful, luxurious SUV that includes stunning looks in its resume.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Lincoln has been, in my opinion, knocking it out of the park with their latest products. Each of the Navigator, Nautilus and Corsair have left me impressed. While each is based on a parallel Ford product, Lincoln has found new ways to differentiate these models with outstanding style, performance and luxury.
But this one is my favourite.
The Aviator gets a lot of attention. It looks fantastic, and with its muscular sculpting, aggressive grille (with an awesome lit Lincoln Star front and centre!), wide stance and massive 22-inch rims, it has presence and character to spare.
The sloping roofline plays a big part of its exterior as well, as does the LED lighting all the way around – there’s the wide LED tail light strip and the way the front of the vehicle goes through a “wake-up” procedure with its LED lights firing up and sweeping out from the grille.
As big as the Aviator is (it becomes more and more apparent the closer you get), it remains sleek and impressive from every angle.
The interior of the Aviator is equally impressive. The build quality appeared to be top-notch, and the materials are world-class. Any surface your hand may fall is soft-touch, the wood trim is real and gorgeous, the Roast Leather upholstery looks and feels rich and even the speaker grilles are works of luxurious art.
The leather seats aren’t just pretty. They are perhaps the best seats I’ve experienced in a vehicle – certainly in a long time. They are infinitely adjustable (30-ways!) and frankly, it actually takes a while to figure out what is the best fit. But once you get it right, they are amazing. Heated, ventilated and massage functions – all here.
Behind the heated steering wheel is a configurable digital dish, and a 10.1-inch touchscreen juts out of the dash. I always appreciate that Lincoln adds a few hard buttons and knobs for the audio system and the climate control. The 28-speaker Revel sound system has become one of my favourites – it produces all frequencies effortlessly and even sounds good with compressed, streaming sources.
Overhead you’ll find a massive panoramic roof, which helps open up the interior even more.
The Aviator comes loaded up with a full set of driver assistance technology – a 360-degree camera, evasive steering assist, reverse brake assist, active parking assist, excellent heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, lane centering and traffic sign recognition and more. All of it works well and is unobtrusive.
Second and Third Row Seats
The second row captain’s chairs are very comfortable as well. They slide fore and aft, recline and are heated and ventilated too.
Second row passengers get an (optional) console in this review vehicle. It is wrapped in wood and leather just like the dash and it looks simply amazing. It contains cupholders, buttons to control the panoramic roof sunshade and a beautifully carpeted storage bin. But that’s not all – there are also air vents, manual side-window sunshades, 115V household and USB charging plugs and a touchscreen control panel with access to audio, climate, seat comfort and settings. To say the second row is a great place to be is an understatement.
The third row is a slight let-down in terms of size. It’s big enough for kids and has cupholders, storage bins and adjustable air vents – but surprisingly no charging ports. The seats are basically situated on the floor so adults won’t have enough leg room for anything longer than a short trip, but my kids were quite happy back there. The seats can be reclined using power buttons, which is nifty.
The centre console has two storage bins, each with a scrolling lid – the left one has USB-A and USB-C plugs, while the right side has storage space and two cupholders.
Under the armrest is a large bin, including as 12V plug, an organizer and a clip-in vertical wireless charging cradle. I like this, as it holds securely on to your phone as well as removes it from being a distraction on the road.
Behind the power liftgate (which can be activated hands-free with your foot underneath the bumper) is a large 519L trunk with the third row in use. Fold those third row seats down (using powered switches in the trunk), and you get nearly 1200L of cargo space. There’s also a significant amount of underfloor storage space.
Under the Hood
Motivating the Aviator is a 3.oL twin-turbocharged V6 that sends 400 HP and 415 lb.ft of torque through a 10-speed automatic transmission and on to the all-wheel drive system.
There’s nothing efficient about this vehicle, considering its size, mass and power. Lincoln rates it at 13.7/9.7 L/100 km (city/highway). We averaged 14.5L/100 km over the course of a week which was mainly slower commuting with a few freeway sprints thrown in.
Considering the size and weight I just noted, one could definitely consider the Aviator a high-performance vehicle. The torque is immediately available at all speeds, and while it’s wonderfully comfortable and sedate to putter around town in, it can also launch off the line or while passing at highway speeds in a way that will make you grin from ear to ear.
The transmission is controlled with a set of “piano keys”. While it cleans up the centre console, it’s not nearly as fast or intuitive as a stick-based mechanism, particular for parking but it’s something you get used to. The transmission is smooth-shifting and relatively intelligent, in that it felt it was usually in the right gear for the situation.
The driver gets a drive mode selector which allows you to choose between Normal, Excite (usually called Sport mode), Conserve (normally deemed an Eco mode), Slippery or Deep Conditions.
I simply can’t say enough about this vehicle’s active suspension. It provides the passengers with a luxurious, buttery ride over any kind of surface and yet, the handling capabilities far exceed what you could ever expect from a huge SUV like this. Throw it into a curve or corner, and it stays remarkably flat and uses its massive grip and all-wheel drive system to defy physics.
Also, the suspension “kneels” when you approach, making it lower and thus easier to get in. A major bonus is how aggressive the Aviator looks with its suspension lowered like this. Absolutely every buyer should spring for the upgraded suspension.
The all-wheel drive system did well on snow and ice, and paired with winter tires, did an outstanding job in the traction territory. Brakes feel powerful and haul things down in a hurry if required.
The visibility out of the vehicle is mostly good in every direction, with just a couple of exceptions – driver’s side shoulder checks are blocked by big pillars, and the third-row headrests definitely block your view when they are in use. Thankfully you can drop them if nobody is back there.
It’s not something that would seem like a big deal, but it became a constant annoyance. For some reason, Lincoln has decided that putting the voice recognition activation button on the steering wheel rim is a good idea. Not only that, but they’ve put it on the grippy bump-out section – right where I tend to hold the steering wheel. What that means for me – your mileage may vary – is that my left hand would often hit that button when I didn’t intend to and that drives me crazy because then the friendly Lincoln lady asks what you want. Please move that button back to the steering wheel hub/spokes where it belongs!
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was very high. She said it felt like the best of the best inside, and was relatively easy to drive considering its size. She didn’t like parking it in tighter spaces although it does have assisted parking and can get in most spots if you ask it to.
The Aviator has everything most buyers could ask for. Style, substance and power. I love its styling inside and out, it provides plenty of utility for people and cargo (it’s a road-trip winner!), Lincoln stuffs it full of technology and luxury and on top of everything, the thing goes like a bat out of hell when you ask it to. I can’t think of much, if anything, that I’d change here, and this is one of the most desirable rides I’ve had in our garage for a long time.
Pricing: 2021 Lincoln Aviator
Base price (Reserve AWD trim): $69,500
Options: $9,000 Equipment Group 202A (Elements Package Plus, Lincoln Co-Pilot 360 Plus); $900 Iced Mocha paint; $200 front and second row floor liners; $2,000 Convenience Package; $3,500 Dynamic Handling Package; $750 full rear console
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $88,100
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Lincoln Canada.
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