by: Sandeep Gill
The Big Apple, Empire City, The City that Never Sleeps – are all apt pseudonyms for this iconic city. They espouse to what people feel when they think of New York City. High-rise buildings as far as the eye can see and endless energy, representative of the lofty aspirations of all those that come to the city. New York City could not have been a better setting for Lincoln’s unveiling of the 2019 Lincoln Aviator at the New York International Auto Show.
The resurrection of the Aviator represents the next step in Lincoln’s move to new heights, a game-changing model from the ground up that is edgy, seductive and quite frankly has a great deal riding on its shoulders. On paper, the Aviator clearly looks like it has the right stuff to get the job done. A silhouette that harkens the lines of a 1940’s aircraft, rear-drive platform, seven-seat capability, twin-turbocharged V6 and plug-in hybrid capability. It will come with a host of driver aids, safety and convenience features. David Woodhouse, Design Director for Lincoln stated that the Aviator can be best described as being “Seduced by Beauty”.
Admittedly, this is the feeling that the Aviator elicits when you first look at the SUV. Approach the Aviator and you are greeted by a masculine and upright grill. It has a unique diamond-like 3D design creating further depth with black and chrome accents. Make your way around to the side and its profile has an elongated hood and a fastfall roofline that resembles the aerofoil design of a wing. At the rear, Lincoln’s signature horizontal brake light flows from edge to edge running through the lift gate and wrapping around. The aviation theme is carried through to the name of the beautiful colour of the preproduction model and is dubbed “Flight Blue”.
The interior harkens design cues from the Navigator. The two-tone interior cream and navy exudes class. The front passenger will be pampered with Lincoln’s Perfect Position seats, with 30-way adjustability and physiotherapist tailored massage system. The second row will be able to recline and slide to enhance comfort for passengers. The whole of the interior draws on horizontal lines, brushed aluminum, and piano black finishes, all in all a very inviting and relaxing environment.
One of Lincoln’s key convenience features that will showcase on the production Aviator is a Smart Phone Key system. The system will allow one to link their phone to the Aviator and control all features controlled by the key on their phone and start their vehicle, essentially eliminating the use of a key. It will further allow for customization of the vehicle based on the phone of the user allowing each driver to tailor the Aviator to their use. If the phone dies or is lost, no need to worry, the Aviator offers wireless charging and the ability to enter the vehicle using an exterior mounted keypad and passcode.
The Lincoln Aviator will bring a host of driver aids and safety features including what Lincoln calls Lincoln CoPilot 360. The system will provide automatic emergency braking paired with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, a rear facing camera, and automatic high-beam headlights. Backing up the Aviator will be made easier with Reverse Brake Assist with a rear sensor and rear-facing camera, which will automatically brake if it detects an approaching object.
To take flight the Aviator utilizes an all-new platform that will be shared by the new Ford Explorer. But, little else will be carried over between the models. The Aviator will be RWD, the platform used will also be available for adaptation to both AWD and FWD vehicles – up north the only option will be AWD as the powers that be felt our northern conditions call for this layout.
At the heart of the Aviator will beat a twin-turbo engine V6. Exact numbers are hush hush, but, we do know that Lincoln will for the first time be offering the Aviator as a plug-in hybrid model giving it what Lincoln calls the “…quietest, smoothest, most powerful drive yet…”
To further refine the driving experience Lincoln will offer an Excite, Comfort, Normal, Normal 4×4, Slippery, Deep Conditions and Slow Climb driving modes. Each engineered to handle every situation a Lincoln owner may face day to day. The settings will also enhance throttle response, suspension system set-up that will utilize the forward-facing camera, which will actually read the road surface ahead and adjust the onboard adaptive suspension to suit the terrain. Lincoln is calling it Suspension Preview Technology.
Key competitors for the Aviator will be found in the Euro market in the likes of the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. The Aviator clearly provided an appealing alternative to the status quo and adheres to what I would call the “Quiet Luxury” principle that recent Lincoln models have sought to strive for. The Aviator kicks it up a notch by focusing on a growing millennial crowd that will be looking for environmentally friendly luxury options that go beyond the bland cookie cutter designs. It will hopefully raise the appeal factor to those with new and growing families to pull them away from the likes of the Acura MDX and the Infiniti QX60.
As all of these facts percolate over the next year or two, we eagerly anticipate when this preproduction beauty will materialize into production reality and wonder how many of these features will actually make it past the prototype, so we can get our hands and feet into it and take off in style.