lincoln has brought back the aviator nameplate for its new mid-size luxury suv. with a new rear-wheel-drive-based platform, a first ever plug-in hybrid model, and all manner of new features, the aviator is shaping up to be one of lincoln's more competitive entries in the luxury sphere in some time, at least on paper. we've been playing around with the aviator's online build-and-price tool and—wary of the vehicle's potential to surpass $90,000 when fully loaded—have settled on a more modestly equipped (but hardly plebeian) aviator suv that seems to include the best of what the lineup has to offer.
model we'd pick
aviator reserve awd ($59,795)
around $60,000 seems to be the sweet spot in the world of mid-size luxury suvs; that's where audi's 10best-winning six-cylinder q7 starts, and it's around what volvo's nicely equipped xc90 inscription costs, so we picked the aviator reserve, the mid-level trim below the rich black label, with its standard 400-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter v-6 and optional $2510 all-wheel drive. the plug-in hybrid aviator grand touring promises more power and seems enticing, but not having driven the gasoline-electric drivetrain yet, we balked at its near-$70,000 starting price without options.
the reserve comes standard with desirable features such as a 14-speaker revel audio system, a power tailgate, and a 360-degree camera view. but it's not quite the plush luxury ute we want, so we picked a few key option packages to luxe up our aviator.
options we'd choose
crystal copper paint ($695)
reserve ii package ($11,625)
we're suckers for a nice brown color, so we'd pick lincoln's distinctive crystal copper hue, which costs a bit extra. it matches nicely with any of the aviator's no-cost interior upholstery options—ebony, ebony/roast, slate gray, and sandstone—so we'll leave that choice up to you.
the costly reserve ii package bundles so many extras that it's essentially its own trim level. we're particularly interested in additions such as the 22-inch wheels, the 30-way power front seats, and the adaptive led headlights, though it includes plenty of other stuff, too, justifying its price somewhat. second-row captain's chairs come standard, reducing the aviator's passenger capacity to six, but a three-place folding bench seat is available as a no-cost option if you need space for seven in a pinch.
our particular aviator rings in at $70,615, undoubtedly a princely sum but one that's within the realm of possibility among this lincoln's competitive set. now all that's left to find out is whether or not the 2020 aviator's driving experience lives up to the billing of its price, which purports to place it in the same realm as its well-established european rivals.
additional editors' picks:
k.c. colwell's 2020 lincoln aviator standard ($56,195)
my spec is a no-nonsense build. nothing that i might use when the in-laws visit or for the no times per year i go to a tailgate. that means i'm working with the base trim. it comes with the 400-hp twin-turbo six, a second-row bench, and a 6700-pound towing capacity. i will pony up the $2500 for all-wheel drive because i've been on one too many slicker-than-snot boat launches. so that means i am in for the $500 tow package, too. no-cost diamond blue paint and sandstone interior (light seats paired with dark carpet is a lovely thing) is how i'd dress it. the only other factory options are the $1000 elements package, which i will select for its heated steering wheel, and $500 navigation, which i will forgo because the standard sync 3 infotainment comes with apple carplay and i prefer waze over any native navigation software. all in, i'm looking at $56,195. this asking price also comes with the added pleasure of giggling every time i see an $80k black label on the road.
connor hoffman's 2020 lincoln aviator black label grand touring ($88,895)
sorry, k.c., but you'll be laughing at my much too expensive aviator. i spec cars irrationally with an i-have-unlimited-money perspective. i mean, if i'm getting a lincoln, i'm going to get the nicest one i can get. i'm going with the aviator black label grand touring, and if you're thinking, ugh, look at this stuck-up millennial going for the most powerful, most expensive aviator, you're damn right. there aren't many color options for the aviator, so i'm sticking to white. yeah, it's boring, but i think it looks elegant on the lincoln. there's also only one wheel option—sad—and the dynamic handling package comes standard here. inside, i selected the cashmere white interior with the chalet theme because at first glance i thought to myself: damn, that looks clean. all white everything. all in all, my 2020 aviator totals out at $88,895. do i have that much money to spend on a three-row suv? nope.
david beard's 2020 lincoln aviator reserve ($60,380)
the aviator is some of lincoln’s best work since the mark viii. its striking sheetmetal surrounds a cabin that oozes luxury. because i'm living with this every day, i'd treat myself and go up a notch by starting with the reserve trim. it’s a $5100 upcharge, but it includes attractive 20-inch wheels, a 14-speaker revel audio system, a 360-degree camera, and upgraded leather. the no-cost magnetic gray paint pairs nicely with the roast interior. and because i'll be using the aviator to shuffle kids and critters, those deep brown seats might hide some of the mess. because i care about my people, i'd opt for the elements package, an $1180 option that adds heat and ventilation to the front and outboard second-row seats and a heated steering wheel. the no-cost second-row bench is a must. i spend my winters seeking out snow, so all-wheel drive for an extra $2510 is a no-brainer. as is the $500 towing packing to tug around the toys. for $60,380, i’ve got a nicely equipped luxury hauler i'd be without reserve about driving daily.