It's no secret that Lincoln needed a clutch play to save its bottom line in the CUV segment. Wheras the Navigator SUV has been a strong seller for Lincoln since its ground up redesign, the aging MKT has pretty much gathered dust, with current sales tepid at best. The luxury brand has revealed its hand with an all new Aviator SUV, which will make its grand debut at the New York Auto Show, and follow up on the newly renamed Lincoln Nautilus in a leather lined one two punch.
Wheras the original Aviator had exterior styling that made it look like a shrunken version of its bigger Navigator sibling, the newly reborn Aviator adopts a slick suit of clothes that hides its Explorer origins nicely, and it also has a subtle resemblance to the Range Rover Velar. The look is distinctively American though, and it is a drastic improvement over the MKT's whale like proportions. The slick suit of clothes also makes the Aviator follow along with some of its potential rivals, and that could make the Aviator be a more compelling cross shop for Lincoln buyers versus the situation they currently face with the MKT.
The interior is derived from the bigger Navigator, and we are not complaining one bit. First and foremost its a gorgeous work of art, and alot of the Navigator's eye for detail migrates down to the smaller Aviator intact. Perfect Position seats cribbed from the Continental and Navigator are on tap, and allow the Aviator to be on par with Volvo offerings when it comes to opulence and comfort. The interior is also jam packed with technology including the latest iteration of Ford's SYNC infotainment system as well as Lincoln's usual suite of safety features.
The other big ticket item here is the rear wheel drive platform that underpins the Aviator. Exact engine choices are not known at this time, but Lincoln executives did hint that a twin-turbocharged Ecoboost engine will be on tap, as well as an optional plug-in hybrid setup. The platform could also hint at whats in store for the next generation Explorer which would need a platform like this to fully accommodate the mysterious Mach 1 performance EV variant. Look for Ford's 10-speed automatic to also make its home in the Aviator to help bolster Ford's recent push for better fuel economy. Buyers looking for more four season capability (especially in the snowbelt) can take solace knowing that optional all-wheel drive will also make its way to the Aviator
Look for the production version of the Aviator to make its official debut sometime next year. The production version will most likely not stray too far from this "preview" model with minor differences installed to address cost of production as well as feasibility. We look forward to seeing more of the Aviator soon, and perhaps road testing one in the distant future to find out how it measures up in the real world.