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2021 Audi Q7 vs. 2021 Lincoln Aviator: Which Is Better?

Meet two luxury-brand mid-size three-row SUVs, both of which promise high style and high tech: The 2021 Audi Q7 and 2021 Lincoln Aviator. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • The Lincoln Aviator is available as a plug-in hybrid.
  • The Audi Q7 offers two gasoline engines.

2021 Lincoln Aviator

2021 Lincoln AviatorBase Price: $52,195 / Read our 2021 Lincoln Aviator Review

What we like: Powerful twin-turbo V6, rich and interesting-looking interior, standard Co-Pilot360 driver aids, tech-savvy phone-as-key feature

What we would change: Reduce the nosebleed-inducing pricing on the top trims, better fuel economy and range from the hybrid version

Overview: The Lincoln Aviator is more than a gussied-up Ford Explorer, and makes a convincingly upscale offering, one that could stand in for the Navigator for buyers who don’t need the very biggest SUV. The Aviator is based on the RWD platform that also underpins the Ford Explorer, but Lincoln gets its own suspension, its own optional powertrain, as well as unique design inside and out. Lincoln’s base engine offering is a 3.0-liter turbo V6, a retuned version of the unit in the high-performance Explorer ST, paired with a 10-speed automatic. Its 400 horsepower tops the boosted sixes in most other luxury SUVs. For even more performance, a plug-in-hybrid Grand Touring variant brings 494 horsepower to bear; it also allows 21 miles of pure EV driving on a fully charged battery, but acceleration as an EV is considerably slower. Fuel economy for the PHEV is not much better than the standard version, though. Despite the muscular powertrains, the emphasis here is purely on luxury, not sportiness. Rather than a sport suspension, Lincoln offers a camera that scans the road ahead and adjusts the adaptive dampers to smooth the ride. Six- or seven-passenger configurations can be had, and the third row is small, although the 18 cubic feet of luggage space aft of it is good. Available Perfect Position front seats boast 30-way adjustability but their padding is firm.

What’s new for 2021: Equipment changes see the Black Label trim add soft-closing doors to its standard-features list, and the Reserve adds a panoramic sunroof. The Elements package now includes heated/ventilated front seats, and a new Monochromatic Reserve package brings unique design elements including black-finished 22-inch wheels and body-colored trim.

Features and technology: The Aviator comes in Standard, Reserve, and Black Label trims, while the PHEV version is offered as the Grand Touring or Black Label Grand Touring. All models boast a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The touchscreen’s graphics are unspectacular but the Sync-based software is easy to use. Lincoln’s pushbutton gear selection is unusual, though. Upper trims offer the ability to use your smartphone as the vehicle’s key. A comprehensive list of standard driver aids includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist. Adaptive cruise control and automated parking are optional.

What does the future hold: The Aviator is only in its second model year, so we don’t anticipate big changes in the near term. See 2021 Lincoln Aviator models for sale near you

2021 Audi Q7 

2021 Audi Q7Base Price: $56,640 / Read our 2021 Audi Q7 Review

What we like: Excellent driving manners, highly configurable digital cockpit display, high-quality interior

What we would change: A roomier third-row seat would be nice as would more cargo space, more driver assists should be standard

Overview: The Audi Q7 is stylish, sporty, and well-rounded. The 2021 Q7 is offered as the four-cylinder 45 TFSI and the V6-powered 55 TFSI, the latter bolstered by a 48-volt mild hybrid system. (The V8 SQ7 is reviewed separately.) The 45 TFSI uses a 2.0-liter turbo making 245 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, while the 55 TFSI’s turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 boasts 335 horses and 369 lb-ft. Both engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic and Quattro all-wheel drive. The turbo four is adequate, but the V6 is our choice here. Neither is exceptionally fuel-efficient, with the 45 TFSI at 21 mpg combined and the 55 TFSI at 18 mpg. Towing capacity stands at 4,400 pounds for the 45 TFSI and an impressive 7,700 for the 55 TFSI. All Q7s have selectable drive modes, and the driving experience harmoniously blends refinement and agility, particularly with the adaptive air suspension that’s optional on the middle grade and standard on the top trim. The latter also offers 4-wheel steering, which aids maneuverability. Inside, the Q7’s interior design and materials are first-rate, and the standard screen-based instrument cluster is a technological tour de force. A third seat is standard but it’s kid-sized, and behind it, there’s just 14.8 cubic feet of luggage space—the Q7’s cargo volume in any configuration is on the small side.

What’s new for 2021: After a major update for 2020, it’s only minor changes for 2021. Blind-spot monitoring is now standard, and the base model’s Convenience package now includes a heated steering wheel and a top-view camera. The Prestige adds heated rear seats, and the Premium Plus can be had with the Executive Package.

Features and technology: The Q7 45 TFSI comes in Premium and Premium Plus trims, while the 55 TFSI also offers a top-spec Prestige trim. Even the base Premium is well equipped, with leather, a panoramic sunroof, heated seats, a power-folding third row, navigation, and a 10.1-inch touchscreen. Another touch-sensitive panel just below handles climate control and vehicle settings. The Premium Plus brings a welcome top-view camera system, wireless device charging, and a 19-speaker 3D audio system. Night vision, soft-close doors, and a head-up display are exclusive to the Prestige. Forward-collision mitigation (with pedestrian detection) and blind-spot monitoring are standard, but other driver-safety aids like lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control cost extra or are included only on higher trims—they should be standard.

What does the future hold: We could see Audi adding the currently optional driver-safety aids to the standard-equipment list. Otherwise, the Q7 isn’t likely to see big changes in the next year or so. See 2021 Audi Q7 models for sale near you.

Aviator vs. Q7: Strengths comparison

Lincoln Aviator Benefits: Powerful base engine, roomy cargo hold even with the third seat in use, rich-looking interior, standard driver-assist features

Audi Q7 Benefits: Accomplished ride and handling, impressively high-tech cabin, well-equipped base model

Aviator vs. Q7: Which is better?

The Lincoln gives the Audi a strong challenge, on the basis of its standard turbo V6 that shades the Audi engines’ power output, its luxuriously expressive interior, and its quietness. The Aviator also offers a smooth ride, but the Q7 does, too, and marries that with more responsive handling. The Audi has its own rich interior that’s ultra-modern and features rich materials. It’s slightly less roomy than the Lincoln, but not by much. The Audi is also better equipped at the low end and considerably less expensive at the top end. The Q7 is the winner here. See 2021 Lincoln Aviator models for sale or See 2021 Audi Q7 models for sale

2021 Lincoln Aviator 2021 Audi Q7
Popular Powertrains
Engine 3.0-liter turbo V6 2.0-liter turbo I-4
Horsepower 400 hp @ 5,500 rpm 248 hp  at 5,000 rpm
Torque 415 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm 273 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm
Transmission 10-spd automatic 8-spd automatic
Fuel Economy 21 mpg (18 city/26 hwy) 21 mpg (19 city/23 hwy)
Also Available AWD; PHEV 3.0-liter turbo V6
Warranty 4years/50,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 stars N/A
Max Seating Capacity 7 7
Wheelbase 119.1 inches 117.9 inches
Overall Length 199.3 inches 199.3 inches
Width 79.6inches 77.6 inches
Height 69.6 inches 68.5 inches
Turning Diameter N/A 41.0 feet
Headroom, Front 41.5 inches 39.9 inches
Headroom, 2nd row 39.7 inches 38.8 inches
Headroom, 3rd row 36.9 inches 35.9 inches
Legroom, Front 43.0 inches 41.7 inches
Legroom, 2nd row 40.1 inches 38.8 inches
Legroom, 3rd row 29.2 inches 29.2 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 61.5 inches 59.5 inches
Shoulder Room, 2nd row 61.3 inches 58.5 inches
Shoulder Room, 3rd row 54.0 inches 49.4 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 144.7 cu. ft. N/A
EPA Cargo Volume 77.7cu. ft. 69.6 cu. ft.


Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio is an author specializing in automobiles. He says, “I have been into cars ever since I started with Matchboxes, and have been sharing my opinions about them for almost as long. Granted, I was pretty young at the time, but my parents really should have listened to me when I told them not to buy an Austin Marina.”

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