Is the Aviator part of Lincoln's comeback story?
Someone asked me what I was driving this week (a common occurrence for me actually). I said a Lincoln Aviator. To which the person looked puzzled and said, are they still making Lincolns? Ouch. That doesn’t bode well for Ford’s luxury brand or the marketing team in Dearborn trying to keep the Lincoln brand in the limelight.
Surely they have their work cut out for them if perception is reality. But the reality is, the Lincoln brand still lives up to its reputation for high-end quality, refined luxury and standout looks. This week’s tester proved that to me convincingly.
The 2022 Lincoln Aviator won’t be the first vehicle you think of when you look at the luxury midsize SUV segment. There’s tough competition throughout. But, having spent a week with the Aviator, I can say, the competition better look out. In such a segment where luxury is taken for granted and conservative refinement are the norm, the Aviator shows off some wow factors and truly is a standout amongst luxury SUVs.
The 2022 Aviator was my first drive time with a Lincoln in a couple years, and my first time ever with this nameplate, but it sure left an impression. In fact, it’s safe to say I will probably have the Aviator on my Top Ten list for favorite vehicles of 2022 and for good reason,.
On looks, the Aviator is best described as both classy and distinctive. Within this segment, that’s saying something. The black mesh grille and front end adds the distinction. Chiseled lines span from front to back giving it a great profile too, which is rare for most SUVs. The back end is where the class comes in. Straight lines perfectly align with the taillights. The simple yet elegant rear lighting also adds to the distinction.
This is one of the most attractive luxury midsize SUVs of this model year, despite the vehicle not getting much of a makeover from the previous model year it still felt fresh and current.
The Aviator’s powertrain is a mild hybrid. But don’t assume that means it lacks power. Quite the contrary as the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (with electric motor assist) makes a combined 494 horsepower and an impressive 630 pound-feet of torque. My tester had the outstanding 10-speed automatic transmission that Ford uses in many of its vehicles and it also had available all-wheel drive (AWD).
The Aviator blazes off the line and had an impressive amount of power, but also kept all those horses under smooth control. This adds to the refinement as it’s quiet, yet confident.
With the likes of Lexus and Acura lacking distinction and at times “phoning in” the luxury, the Aviator provided some wow factor inside. Tan leather seat surfaces were a nice compliment to the Flight Blue Metallic exterior. A leather-trimmed steering wheel is also heated. The seven-passenger SUV offers comfortable seat surfaces. The front-row seats have 30-way active seat positions making it easier to find your ideal seat setting.
The second-row is equally comfortable in both legroom and headroom. The third-row, as is the case with most in this segment is cramped and should be limited to children only or folded down to expand the cargo area.
Speaking of, there’s 18.3 cubic feet behind the third-row seats and that expands to 41.1 cubic feet with the third row folded flat. With the second-row seats also folded, the total cargo volume is 77.7 cubic feet.
The Ford Sync3 system is used. This is a good infotainment system, although the newer Sync4 has more features and is far superior. But there’s wireless phone charging the Sync3 integrates smoothly with both Apple and Android phones.
The 10.1-inch touchscreen is right sized. Other Ford vehicles have screens that dominate the center stack, while this one is responsive and driver-focused and also doesn’t overwhelm the dashboard styling.
The top-of-the-line Aviator Grand Touring has a base price of $88,230. With destination fee, the final MSRP of my tester was $89,425 which included Lincoln’s subscription-based service called Black Label (sounds fancy).
As a plug-in hybrid, the Aviator has an electricity plus gas range of 56 mpg. On the gas engine alone it will average 24 mpg. For a vehicle with this much refined power, that was an adequate fuel economy.
The Lincoln Aviator is not top of mind amongst most consumers. But those who get seat time in this midsize SUV might just be won over with all that this seven-passenger luxury SUV has to offer.