Lincoln Glides into New England with the Sumptuous 2020 Aviator and Aviator Plug-in Hybrid

Lincoln marketing director Michael Sprague addresses NEMPA. (Clifford Atiyeh/NEMPA)

When numbers lose their meaning, the automotive industry turns to adjectives and phrases. BMW is dynamism. Porsche goes for intelligent performance. Jaguar has followed grace, space, and pace for decades. No Rolls-Royce leaves the line without waftability. At Lincoln, it’s about gliding.

“You can’t go to a powertrain calibration engineer and say, ‘Give me more gliding,’ ” said Brad Jaeger, brand manager for the 2020 Aviator, to a packed crowd of New England journalists.

But that’s what he did. Lincoln engineers had to come up with new measurements, like a way to quantify a vehicle’s choppiness over rough roads. They benchmarked the best in the segment, like the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7. Then they returned with their most advanced suspension and powertrain, bolted them to a spacious SUV, and hid every last data point beneath a padded, insulated, and downright decadent cabin. It is not Matthew McConaughey’s perplexing loss of the right words in Lincoln commercials that sells Lincoln in 2019. It is not because the Aviator can glide, which in fact it does. It is because the entire vehicle is that good.

NEMPA members sampled five Aviator models in various trims. Also in attendance were Lincoln marketing director Michael Sprague, global communications manager Angie Kozleski, and eastern public relations manager Rhonda Belluso. The Aviator, which went on sale a couple weeks ago, will soon enter the NEMPA fleet for extensive Winter Vehicle testing.

Brad Jaeger, brand manager for the Lincoln Aviator. (Clifford Atiyeh/NEMPA)

Consider other phrases, like the Lincoln Embrace. That is the sequence of events leading up to the driver opening the door, in which the welcome lighting slowly fades and the vehicle lowers its air suspension. Inside, there’s what Sprague calls a sanctuary. The seats adjust in 30 ways, there are 28 speakers, and the selection of woods, metals, and leather—their color, stitching, feel, and attention to detail—is none other than stunning. The warning chimes are recordings of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra so as not to annoy or even anger the Aviator owner. All of this, said Sprague, is what makes the Aviator feel like a Quiet Flight.

In case the Aviator is too comfortable, the standard twin-turbocharged V-6 should get customers alert in a hurry. In regular tune, the Aviator makes 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. On the plug-in hybrid Grand Touring, the Aviator shoots to 494 hp and 630 lb-ft while connected to the same 10-speed automatic transmission. Based on the new Explorer, the Aviator rides on a rear-wheel drive chassis for more balanced weight distribution. But Lincoln specified a unique short long-arm front suspension as opposed to the Explorer’s McPherson design and set its optional adaptive dampers, using 12 sensors sampling the road at 500 times per second, to change their firmness in an instant. Even hitting a pothole is supposed to be relaxing. “It makes the secondary strike as smooth as possible,” said Jaeger.

Ray Magliozzi and Junior Demato try an Aviator on for size. (Lisa Brock/NEMPA)

Here’s another word: Conquest. Lincoln has been doing much of that lately as it plucks customers from foreign nameplates. More than half of new buyers in Black Label trims—the most luxurious choice in the lineup—come from Volvo, BMW, and other luxury brands. Alongside all-new models including the Nautilus, Navigator, and Corsair, the Aviator is a strong addition to the Lincoln fleet—and by our take so far, certainly worth the $80,000-plus asking price that top trims command.

“We’re very excited for the customers who will be coming in to see this vehicle,” said Sprague.

(Lisa Brock/NEMPA)

See more photos from the event on Facebook.

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