Luxury crossover SUV takes flight

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The 2020 Lincoln Aviator isn’t the first time Ford’s luxury brand has distilled its Navigator into something more palatable, but it’s a much more thorough effort.

At the 2018 LA Auto Show on Wednesday, Lincoln took the wraps off of its new, rear- or all-wheel-drive three-row crossover SUV that’s set to square off against the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, and Volvo XC90 when it goes on sale next summer.

MORE: Read our 2020 Lincoln Aviator preview

The Aviator’s shape draws heavily from the redesigned Navigator, but with softer, dare we say Land Rover-inspired lines. Some cues from Lincoln’s Continental sedan are present, but the Aviator’s two-box shape and spacious interior are more in line with luxury shopper demands.

Under the Aviator’s hood sits a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine that Lincoln estimates will put out 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. A plug-in hybrid version called Aviator Grand Touring will follow with at least 450 hp and an impressive 600 lb-ft of torque. Either way, the engines are paired to 10-speed automatic transmissions.

Lincoln hasn’t specified an electric-only range for the plug-in hybrid version of the Aviator, although the automaker did say that the underfloor placement of its lithium-ion battery won’t chew into cargo space. The Aviator plug-in hybrid’s Preserve EV mode maintains the battery’s charge so that drivers can select when to use Pure EV mode. Uniquely, the Aviator will ask drivers if they’d like to change the vehicle’s hybrid mode if the throttle is mashed to the floor.

The 2020 Ford Explorer, which is likely to debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next January, is said to share the Aviator’s rear-wheel-drive architecture.

Lincoln fits a height-adjustable air suspension to cushion the Aviator’s ride and predictive dampers that tie to a forward-facing camera system are optional. A fully independent suspension means the Aviator probably won’t have off-road chops, as if that matters.

On the active safety front, the Aviator comes with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control that use the camera system to actively steer, brake, and accelerate in certain high-traffic situations or if an obstacle is detected.

The Aviator’s luxurious interior is draped in leather and wood trim on higher-specification trims. Power front seats with up to 30 ways of adjustment will be on offer, as will one of two Revel-branded audio systems.

Lincoln hasn’t announced pricing for the Aviator, which will be available in base, Reserve, Black Label, and Grand Touring trim levels.

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