First Drive: 2020 Lincoln Aviator Takes Flight With Luxury and Power

The all-new three-row SUV is a delight to drive but has quirky controls

2020 Lincoln Aviator front driving

Update: Since this first drive was originally published in October 2019, we finished testing the Aviator.

See the complete Lincoln Aviator road test.

The all-new Lincoln Aviator was developed as an upscale sibling to the redesigned Ford Explorer, wrapping a three-row SUV into posh styling and a powerful 400-hp powertrain.

Ford slotted the reborn Aviator (the name was last used in 2005) between its Nautilus and full-sized Navigator, loading it with luxury appointments to take on its crosstown rival, the Cadillac XT6, and the Audi Q7, BMW X5, and Lexus RX L.

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You can access our assessment of the new Aviator by clicking below to become a CR member, which also gives you full access to exclusive ratings on all the products we evaluate.

We’ve driven our Aviator several thousand miles, cataloging our impressions on every aspect of the vehicle’s ride, interior comfort, features, and feel. The Aviator is currently going through more than 50 tests at the CR Auto Test Center, including those to evaluate acceleration, braking, fuel economy, handling, car-seat fit, and controls.

Prices for the new model range from $51,100 to $87,800 for the Black Label Grand Touring version, which includes a “premium” maintenance package with complimentary pickup and delivery.  

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What we bought: 2020 Lincoln Aviator Reserve AWD
Powertrain: 400-hp, 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbocharged engine; 10-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
MSRP: $58,700
Options: $5,125, which includes Elements Package Plus, Lincoln Co-Pilot 360 Plus, panoramic roof, and floor mats.
Destination fee: $1,095
Total cost: $64,420 

CR’s Take

Lincoln loaded the Aviator with all the fancy features designed to lure customers from other prestige brands. This relaunched model’s dynamics are indeed impressive, with agile handling, a tranquil ride, and a gutsy powertrain. The Aviator is a legitimate contender with a distinctly American take on luxury. But there are some annoyances here and there worth knowing about that could dampen an otherwise impressive driving experience.  

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