Lincoln is a luxury car brand that gets picked on a lot. People love to talk about how Lincoln has lost its way and just makes boring luxury cars that aren’t as nice as German ones and aren’t as cool as old Lincolns. It’s true that some of Lincoln’s models have been pretty boring over the last few years, but things are starting to turn around: witness the strong success of the new Navigator and increased sales of smaller crossovers like the MKC and the Nautilus, too.
Indeed, Lincoln is in the middle of a resurgence right now. It’s going back to using model names that are words, like Continental and Nautilus, rather than meaningless abbreviations. The new Navigator, the first Lincoln to cross the $100,000 mark, is a massive success that’s been making a lot of people forget about the Cadillac Escalade. Lincoln is getting the most positive attention its gotten in years — maybe decades — and it’s continuing its hot streak with the return of the Lincoln Aviator.
We got our first peek at the Lincoln Aviator at the New York Auto Show, and we got a closer look at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s arriving this summer as a 2020 model, and it’s an SUV slotted between the midsize Nautilus and the full-size Navigator. It has some Navigator-inspired styling, some interesting powertrain options and a gorgeous interior — and I think it’s going to be a huge hit for Lincoln, possibly even more so than the Navigator is.
The reason I think the Aviator will be a big seller, and that a lot of people will love it, is because Lincoln has finally figured out the modern-day version of the luxurious American family hauler. For about a century, that was the full-size American luxury sedan, something Lincoln has quite a lot of experience with.
But ever since consumer tastes have shifted away from sedans, Lincoln has been searching for what it’s going to build to replace the thing that it’s always been good at. Some might say the really big SUVs like the Navigator are the new luxury sedan in the sense that it’s aspirational for a lot of American families, but I think the Aviator might be closer to what families with a decent-sized car budget really want. For anyone who thinks the Navigator is "too much car," the Aviator will be the Goldilocks that’s just right in terms of sizing and pricing.
At the end of the day, the Aviator is just a really nice-looking SUV inside and out that’s well-proportioned. With its twin-turbo V6 delivering strong performance and its plug-in hybrid "Grand Touring" model delivering even better performance along with better fuel economy, there will be a lot to love under the hood of this family hauler. It’s the SUV that’s been in the dreams of many Americans, but hasn’t been in Lincoln showrooms … yet. It’s tough to point to one reason why I think the Aviator will be a big success for Lincoln — but to put it simply, I think Lincoln just got it very right with the Aviator. We’ll let you know if they really did as soon as we drive one.