Lincoln’s latest luxury launch is the all-new Aviator, not yet ready for production, but due to hit the streets sometime in 2019, unveiled at the 2018 New York International Auto Show. The handsome new model stretches the limits of the “medium sized” luxury segment while continuing Lincoln’s brand mission of producing stunningly good-looking SUVs.
While the Aviator shown in New York this week isn’t the production vehicle, but a “teaser” model intended to “preview the direction Lincoln plans to take” with the production Aviator, our time talking with the Lincoln honchos on-site indicates this teaser vehicle is a fairly accurate preview of the top-tier Black Label version of the upcoming Aviator.
So what are the things you need to know about the new Aviator, a full year (or more) before it’s due for customer delivery?
1. It’s built on an all-new rear-wheel-drive platform. That should translate to more dynamic handling in two-wheel drive models, not that anyone is buying a Lincoln SUV to shred the corners. But being based on a rear-drive platform puts Lincoln on a more even footing with established luxury players like BMW—and possibly positions the brand as a touch more premium than front-drive brands like Lexus. The Aviator will be the first vehicle built on the new rear-drive platform, according to Lincoln—but you can bet it won’t be the only one.
2. It’ll feature a twin-turbocharged engine, as well as a plug-in hybrid option. In a first for Lincoln, both the twin-turbo engine and the plug-in hybrid will be in the same package—undoubtedly a pricey and complex decision, but one that could position Lincoln near the front of the pack in terms of advanced powertrain luxury three-row SUVs.
3. You’ll be able to use your phone as your key. That’s right, you won’t just be able to use your phone to lock/unlock/precondition/etc (it’ll do all that of course), but also as your actual key fob—as in, leave the physical key at home, and use your phone to unlock, start, and drive the car. If your phone dies, the exterior keypad provides backup entry and operation functions.
4. It’ll have Lincoln Suspension Preview Technology on board. It’s a system that uses the forward camera to scan the road surface and proactively adjust the suspension settings to minimize the discomfort of bumps, potholes, and other surface irregularities.
5. Full of tech goodies. There’ll be a host of advanced driver assistance technologies, rolled up into a suite that the brand calls Lincoln Co-Pilot360. This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping, cross-traffic alert, blind spot detection, and more.
6. It can tell you where to go. A feature called “considerate prompts” will use the vehicle’s location and the driver’s context to preemptively suggest helpful features via the SYNC infotainment display. For example, if the Aviator is low on fuel, it may pop up a notification in the instrument panel and send a list of the nearest gas stations to the navigation system so the driver can choose where to fill up.
7. Space for grown-ups. Aviator’s three-row seating claims to be able to hold a 95th-percentile adult (about 6’2”) in the second row, and a 90th-percentile (about 6’ even) adult in the fold-down third row. We haven’t had a chance to climb in the back yet to test that theory, but if it bears out, that’s considerably more space than most part-time third-row seating available today.