Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring PHEV
The Lincoln Aviator is the second biggest vehicle in the brand's lineup and is currently the only one available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Lincoln revived the nameplate for 2020; it's still a new vehicle. Although it is riding on the same platform as the Ford Explorer, it's not as large as the legendary Navigator. Our test vehicle has an MSRP of $94,795 and is built at the Chicago, IL plant.
When you look at the exterior design of the Lincoln Aviator, it's a bulky vehicle with some curvier lines. You rarely see on the streets a burgundy vehicle (or, as Lincoln calls it: Burgundy Velvet). At first glance, it's strange, but you get used to it, and to be perfectly honest, it bodes well with the rest of the vehicle. We liked a detail for this hybrid SUV: the emblem on the front grille and the model name spelled on the sides are underlined in blue. The front grille isn't very different from the Lincoln Corsair or Navigator we tested earlier this year, but the back is much more distinctive. We feel that they did a good job integrating the rear light bar and taillights. It may be one of the best examples in the auto industry. The quad exhaust also looks good and is functional, although this vehicle doesn't focus on performance.
The Lincoln Aviator doesn't only look classy; they've done an excellent job of making the cabin luxurious. When you get inside the vehicle, you are enveloped in the sandstone interior (beige), with touches of wood on many surfaces. The seats are plush and comfortable with heating, ventilation, and massaging controls. From the driver's side, you will find behind the steering wheel the digital gauge cluster that is also used in other models from the automaker. It is user-friendly but cannot show a full-screen map. The wheel is quirky; some buttons will disappear depending on which menu you've selected on the gauge cluster. It's a small detail, but those are important, especially at that price tag.
Moving to the centre console, you will find the 10.1" LCD touchscreen with the latest SYNC infotainment system. The system in itself is good enough, the size of the screen is disappointing, it is small compared to German competition. Aside from Apple Carplay and Android Auto not being wireless, the system is almost flawless. The sound of the 28-speakers Revel sound system is crisp and pleasant to hear. Under the screen, don't be surprised, it is where you put the car in Drive or Park. It takes a couple of times to get used to it; the main advantage is that it clears space on the center console. The radio controls and climate are within reach of both the driver and the passenger. They are easy to use and manipulate, surrounded by wood trimming, look sharp, and complete with ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel, to name a few. Finally, you will find cupholders and the drive mode selector on the center console. A pretty straightforward interior but classy nonetheless.
As for the rest of the interior, you can either have a 7-seat configuration with the second-row bench seat or 6-seat with two captain chairs in the second row. The seats are plush and comfortable, and both front seats are also massaging, so both can unwind with the pinnacle of the Lincoln experience. Second-row passengers aren't left hanging; the seats are heated and ventilated! They also have their climate zone, and you can monitor these controls with the smaller touchscreen. The third row is not as roomy as the second, but teenagers can fit in quite easily. Cargo space is okay with the third row up; you may fit a suitcase and a backpack but not much else. You can drop the third row quickly from the back with the push of a button. As for child seats, the ISOFIX ports are somewhat accessible, but the rear anchor is located way too low on the backside of the seats.
Now moving on to the driving experience, the Lincoln Aviator with the Grand Touring trim is powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain composed of a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 engine and an electric motor. The battery has a capacity of 13.6 kWh. The gas engine is coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission, and the overall output is 494hp and 630lb-ft of torque. Although these are hefty numbers at first glance, gravity takes its toll on the Aviator: its approximately 2,5 tons show in the 0-100 kph time of around 5,0 seconds. When you buy a Lincoln, you aren't usually worried about sportiness or blazing-fast acceleration; in this case, the acceleration is quick but luxurious. You won't have any problems driving this vehicle on the highway. A benefit of this powertrain is the towing capacity that is very interesting, 5,600lbs with the Trailer Tow Package.
With the numbers out of the way, let's talk about the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring's driving experience. The chassis is based on a truck, and it drives like a very comfortable truck. The air suspension does an excellent job of keeping the vehicle stable at highway speeds, and in the city, it prevents as much as possible the nose from dipping too much forward. It also helps reduce the effect of imperfections on the road. The downside is that the vehicle wobbles in sharp turns because of the vehicle's weight. Braking isn't optimal; unfortunately, there isn't a way to increase regenerative braking, which is disappointing since it's a feature present on many electric and hybrid vehicles. This makes the brake pedal feel spongy, and you have to push the pedal pretty far to get decent performance.
Now, on the EV side of things, you can select Pure EV on the drive modes to drive only in electric power. The range is decent for this size, around 40km in the summer, between 25 and 40km overall. The EV range adjusts quite rapidly; we would even say too rapidly. Floor it, and you'll lose 2km instantly; let it roll to the next stop sign, and you've gained the 2km again. The quick adjustment may give a false sense of range, either positively or negatively. When the battery is depleted, the gas consumption is also decent for an SUV this size. You can expect about 9.3L/100km combined, so it's a good time to splurge on the hybrid setup and get all the bells and whistles rather than the base. Lincoln announces a combined City-Hwy consumption of 10.3 L/100km when used on gas only.
Handling surprised us the most when driving through Outaouais' twisted and mountainous roads. This is also the one place that proved that plug-in hybrids love uneven terrain. While Lincoln announced a 34km range, we were able to push it above 50km thanks to the mild weather. We easily achievable the announced range during our regular commute, even with some Hwy driving. On the other hand, the braking feels unnatural with the hybrid system and the 10 Speed automatic can feel hesitant once it switches from the electric to the internal combustion engine.
Looking back on the vehicle, the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring is a different take in the large premium SUV segment. Most of the competition focuses on sportiness, but in this case, comfort is the main focus, and the Aviator is very comfortable and quiet, especially in EV mode. Buyers in this category don't often think about Lincoln to meet their needs, but the new Aviator PHEV makes a compelling case!
Lincoln has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Lincoln Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.