Lincoln Aviator, sophistication for the masses

The other luxury American brand, Cadillac has made a confident resurgence in the past decade, charging onto the field with its CT6 to ATS range, drawing attention from the Europeans who for a while dominated the luxury markets unchallenged. Meanwhile, Lincoln seemed to have been creeping up behind everyone, in the shadows, dredging up old Jaguars, Volvos, and making nice Ford Fusions, quietly poking the premium market just below luxury. Ford seemed content having the brand tick along at a very subtle idle.

Then, in the last year, with much fanfare, the new Continental and Navigator came along. Finally, Lincoln was back with an actual impact. What’s more, these models carry such elegant stature as to not even condescend to compete directly with the increasingly uncouth Europeans, and Cadillac. In a twist of fate, Lincoln is quietly surpassing all in the classy luxury market. The Navigator is a fine automobile, said with cigar puffing away, and has the brand harking back to its 1920s supremacy like it hasn’t for a very long time.

That’s all fine, but as for all manufacturers, a mass market model is an essential ingredient for establishing any new direction. Enter the Aviator. Naturally, it’s a family oriented SUV but, like its bigger siblings, is produced to this uniquely Lincoln recipe of elegance, comfort, style.

This identity is obvious at first sight, yet there is no striking reason why. Taking it apart, you inevitably start with its nose, one that initially seems slightly fussy actually takes its place as an attractive adornment restrained in its use of chrome (that’s GM’s ticket), with features like the grill, which sets off elegant shoulders, leading definition to the sides of the car, accompanied but not challenged by subtle wheel-arch flares. In a segment where every other SUV seems to be preparing itself for jousting with their sharp edged panels, the Aviator’s clean lines are a refreshing change. And yet there’s a natural assertiveness to it, and particularly from the side, where a sloping roof and window-line can be seen setting into its rear haunches, there’s a hint of old school hot rod aggression. Those rear lights are cool too.

Inside, there’s some of the best dashboard integration of feature trim I’ve seen. The machine-turned aluminium, a pleasant nod to vintage aircraft, sits atop a soft lower dash and its slender air-vents, all of it a display in tasteful restraint. That’s the theme for the rest of the interior, all the way back to its third row of seats, although only the first two rows apparently deserve the lovely leather trimmed side panels. Nonetheless, a cohesive elegance permeates the entire design, inside and out.

Almost a given is the suite of technological features provided, a prerequisite of any self-respecting new car buyer’s interest lately. Lincoln haven’t left this aspect without its touch of nice details, either, highlights being deliberately sensitive steering wheel controls which surely won’t cause unintentional actions, all sorts of novel interactions possible through your phone; from the ability to light it up like the 4th of July if it’s lost in a car park to suddenly severing ties in a brazen show of Independence if your phone is ever stolen. It’s also an early adopter of the predictive suspension system seen on top-end Mercedes-Benz models.

Farewell, misunderstood MKT, and please take your marketing strategy with you.

Only just presented at the New York show, we can hope for release later this year of petrol and hybrid versions, twin turbo V6s and a new electric/petrol drivetrain likely to feature. While the weird and aging MKT is therefore doomed to its end, a new era of Lincoln can ascend to market. It can be expected, still cigar in hand, that the Aviator will carry over the plush driving experience already demonstrated in its larger siblings, and that its owners will be ushered along in velvety comfort and ensconced in true self-affirming style, like the knight who brushes aside unworthy challenges. Although, of course, we’re to see this as some sort of aircraft aren’t we?

Whatever it is, the likes of Range-Rover’s Sport and Volvo’s XC90 have a threat more complex than seating arrangements or badge-led marketing. Lincoln are again making cars special.


The Lincoln logo projecting from mirror is just one of the many lights available

Machine turned aluminium trim is material link to Aviator name

Third row seating still gets a little leather

Fine proportions even include the roof


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Photography courtesy of Lincoln

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