Why The Lincoln Aviator Is a Totally Legit Luxury SUV

Turbo-charged performance at a competitive price.


There was a time not too long ago that Lincoln was struggling to find itself as a car make. It’s starting to find its footing now, and vehicles like the 2020 Aviator prove it.

The name of Ford Motor’s more luxurious sister company will always be synonymous with a couple historic vehicles. The Continental is the undisputed champion of the limousine and livery business. Meanwhile, the Navigator stares down Cadillac’s Escalade atop the U.S. domestic SUV food chain. Both are symbols of success and denizens of the good life.


Those Lincoln heavy hitters are still in the company’s selections, but it’s the rest of the family where matters wandered off a bit. These days, the minds behind Lincoln looked at the car selling business and realized it’s not as often cars selling at all. Crossovers and SUVs rule the roost these days, especially in the well-heeled luxury realm.


With that in mind, Lincoln added three little sisters to the Navigator – each a bit smaller than the previous entry. In order of descent, Lincoln now offers the Aviator, Nautilus and Corsair. A recent test drive of the 2020 Aviator proved Lincoln took the comfort and luxury of the Navigator and installed it right down the line.

The Aviator grew into an elaborate trim tree, including the Standard, the Reserve, Grand Touring and Black Label. Each brings a few more bangs and whistles and a bigger price tag than the last, but they all motivate thanks to a twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter, V6 engine. There was a time when a seven-passenger SUV would need a big, thirsty V8 to get down the road. The miracles of modern turbochargers and high compression allow the Aviator’s V6 to generate 400 horsepower.


Inside, the Aviator includes the full-service infotainment center Lincoln borrows from Ford – adding a fancier interface. All functions from audio entertainment to climate control run through a center console, including vehicle adjustment settings that dictate how much help the Aviator’s A.I. lends the driving experience.

While it doesn’t offer the aircraft carrier-esque dimensions of the Navigator, the Aviator is still a legitimate SUV with a towing capacity of 6,700 pounds while it’s carrying seven human beings. Still, the driving experience is smooth and very manageable. 


In other reviews, this writer noted with amazement how electronic power steering and four-wheeled independent suspension make even something as big as a Ford F-350 pickup easy to drive. That same amazement applies to the road bound management of the Lincoln Aviator.

The starting price of $51,100 is a shocker when you consider the size of the vehicle and the features it brings. Obviously, it’s a stretch to say a $50,000 SUV is anything resembling a bargain, but the aesthetics and the presence of the Aviator would fit a car settling into the $70,000 neighborhood. 

Depending on an Aviator’s features and trim packages, the cost can push up into the mid-80K range, but foreign SUV-builders offer less vehicle for more money.