lincoln aviator colorful sky


The “SUV as an event” is a bizarre concept but spend time inside a 2020 Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD to experience a vehicle that feels as good as your destination. Able to carry up to seven passengers in total comfort, it is the Lincoln’s brand foray into the mid-size luxury segment. Did Lincoln whiff it, or did they connect for a home run, or at least an infield triple? Read on with to find out our thoughts.


Lincoln Aviator Reserve
Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD SUV.

Take the best rubber, metal, plastic, wood and leather – about two and a half tons worth, toss it all together and voila, you’ve got yourself the Lincoln Aviator. Sure, that’s a bit simplistic, but you get the point. A behemoth to be certain, it is a luxury rear- or all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle capable of carrying 6-or7 passengers. It competes against such vehicles as the BMW X5, Hyundai Palisades, the Kia Telluride and Mercedes-Benz GLE

Aviator Engine Lincoln
Lincoln Aviator 3.0-liter Twin Turbocharged V6.

Power comes from a singular engine choice available in several configurations. Ours was the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. This base engine outruns much of the competition by as much as 50 horsepower. The power goes to all-four-wheels through a ten-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth gear changes with nary a whimper or other untoward sounds. It’s a reliable, well-sorted package overall.

The second variety includes a Plug-in Hybrid Aviator. This PHEV vehicle includes a 100 horsepower electric motor-generator that kicks the power up to 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque from its 13.6 kWh lithium-ion battery. That’s some healthy power that puts it into V8 territory but adds nearly 800 extra pounds to the already zaftig SUV. Lincoln officials say the PHEV function is good for approximately 18 miles on a full charge.


The base Lincoln Aviator rides on a traditional steel coil spring and passive damper suspension. On the other hand, our sampler included adaptive dampers, which are standard on the Reserve trim model. It also included the Dynamic Handling Package ($3,000), which includes the adaptive airbags and cameras that look 50-feet up the road and tell the Aviator to soften the ride, or conversely tighten it up accordingly. Also included in the package: variable-ratio steering and expanded travel air springs.


Lincoln 3/4 Side view Aviator Reserve
Lincoln Aviator at the RC Bush Pilots model aircraft field at Dyer Park.

As slick as a medium-large luxury SUV (think Range Rover), the Lincoln Aviator showed off an understated-slash-luxurious appearance that was elegant in the sense that it did not rely on overly-creased body panels which tend to take away from the overall effect. The by-now-familiar Lincoln grille with crosshairs is still prominently displayed and leads the way, offering an immediate sign of recognition as to what vehicle is approaching.

Aviator Rear view Lincoln
The Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD with automatic liftgate.

From the rear, the Aviator has a distinct Ford Explorer appearance about it, which is both familiar and stylish. A brake lighting effect stretches from the left to the right rear, across the handsfree liftgate. At all four corners, 22-inch machined alloy wheels show themselves off in an elegant fashion.


Lincoln Aviator interior
The interior of the Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD.

The interior of the Lincoln Aviator is a well-planned cocoon of comfort starting with the driver’s seat that features 12 different power adjustments, including individual thigh support, massaging, heating and cooling functions, second-row captains chairs, and more. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also on board, along with Lincoln Connect’s 4G Modem with WiFi capability. Lincoln’s (actually Ford’s) Sync3 system with voice-activated navigation is also here. Finally, a stellar-sounding Revel 14-speaker audio system makes this Aviator sound like Carnegie Hall on wheels.

Lincoln aviator rear seating
Second row seating in the Lincoln Aviator SUV.

Seating is comfortable throughout, except if you walk with your head in the clouds. Third-row seating is best saved for younger (smaller) riders.

looking forward aviator
Looking forward from the rear of the Lincoln Aviator.

If we were to criticize any aspect of the Aviator’s interior, it would be with Lincoln’s insistence on having piano gear drive controls with individual buttons on the lower dashboard for P, R, N, and D modes. They work fine but don’t fit the otherwise sophisticated nature of the vehicle.


driver side Aviator
Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD SUV.

Close the doors of the Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD and you will be greeted with a solid thunk that conveys a feeling of elegance and quality. The interior silence only makes it better. Push a button and the Aviator fires up for takeoff. Acceleration was a bit sluggish, but we have heard it is greatly improved with the PHEV version.

Lincoln on the road
Lincoln Aviator on the road again.

It’s not a problem, but the Lincoln Aviator is a solidly-built vehicle. With that solidity, comes extra weight that translates to perceived sluggishness. But let’s be honest here. This vehicle is not going to participate in the Baja 1000, nor the Indianapolis 500, so we’ll roll with it.

Lincoln Head-on
The Lincoln Aviator is head-on in this pose.

The Aviator cornered squarely and precisely without body lean, which is one way to instill confidence. The transmission offered quick, quiet step-downs when we needed to accelerate. We stomped on the gas, which forced the transmission to drop a couple of gears allowing a rapid romp to join moving traffic on the interstate’s on-ramp.

2020 Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD

Type Mid-Size Luxury SUV
Passengers Six or Seven Passengers
Engine 3.0-liter Twin-Turbocharged V6
Power 400 horsepower
Torque 415 Torques
Transmission 10-speed Automatic Transmission
Suspension Adaptive Air Suspension with Dynamic Handling Package
Drive Front or All-Wheel-Drive
Towing 6,700 pounds
Overall Length 199.3 inches
Wheelbase 119.1 inches
Width 89.9 inches
Height 69.6 inches
Cargo 18.3/41.8/77.7 cubic feet (Behind 3rd, 2nd, and front seats.)
EPA Mileage 18 city/26 highway

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