We haven’t seen a new Lincoln Aviator since the original model ended its brief run from model years 2003-2005. It was based on the third-generation Ford Explorer and was a bit of a flop, since the luxury SUV craze hadn’t quite taken off yet like it has in the past few years.
Now the Aviator is back. The all-new 2019 Lincoln Aviator made its debut at the New York Auto Show as the luxury brand’s second-biggest SUV offering behind the Navigator. It has a passing resemblance to the bigger Navigator, especially from behind and in its side profile, but the front end of the Aviator is a bit more interesting than just a smaller Navigator.
At first glance, the new Lincoln Aviator doesn’t fit very well into any established SUV segments, which isn’t a bad thing. It falls between mid-size and full-size with a spacious third row of seats, making it a good option if you need a lot of passenger room, but don’t need something as big as a Navigator or an Escalade.
The interior of the Aviator borrows quite a bit from the Navigator. It’s roomy and luxurious, made with premium materials. The overall fit and finish can go toe-to-toe with just about any other luxury brand competing in this segment.
Some cool tech in the Aviator that’s all-new for Lincoln is the ability to use your smartphone as your key. You’ll be able to lock and unlock the doors, and open the hatch and start the engine. That means one less thing to carry around in your pocket or your purse.
The Aviator is built on a new rear-wheel-drive platform (with available all-wheel drive) which has us wondering if this is our first glimpse at the architecture for the next-generation Ford Explorer. Lincoln is being a bit vague about what will power the Aviator, but we know it will be a twin-turbocharged engine — most likely a V6 — with a plug-in hybrid option using that same twin-turbo engine. Lincoln has said previously that it will offer plug-in hybrid variants of every model in its lineup by 2022, and the Aviator is a step in that direction.
Lincoln made it clear that the Aviator it showed off in New York was a "preview," which means there could be some changes by the time the production model comes out — but we’re not expecting anything major. If you like the Navigator, but want something a little easier to afford and park, the all-new Aviator will be a great option when it comes out next year.