Behind the Wheel

2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring Black Label Review: Not quite alright, alright, alright

The Lincoln Aviator is regal looking but not great to drive or ride in.

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Co.

The 2020 Lincoln Aviator debut to almost unanimous accolades. It was heralded as good looking, a fantastic step in the right direction for the resurgence of the brand, and possessing a touch of the future with its promised hybrid powertrain. Then, it was driven and the competition stepped up its game.

The Aviator sits in Lincoln's lineup between the smaller Nautilus, itself larger than the Corsair, and below the full-size Navigator. It's technically a midsize SUV with three rows of seating - two of which are usable for adults. The Lincoln Aviator Black Label Grand Touring is the pinnacle of the lineup. It's a new SUV for the 2020 model year and part of the lineup featured in commercials starring Matthew McConaughey.

2020 Lincoln Aviator & Aviator Hybrid The Aviator is a three-row midsize SUV. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

Under its hood is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that provides 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid powertrain is completed by a 10-speed automatic transmission. The power is delivered smoothly and efficiently but lacks any robustness a driver may be wanting from a 400-horsepower vehicle. The problem isn't simply off the line, but also down the line.

The car doesn't particularly spark joy to drive. It has all the technology one would expect to make the drive pleasurable, but it's not anything that differentiates it from the rest of the crop.

The interior of the Aviator is a replica of the Navigator's. Though elegantly designed, it lacks the execution to make it arise to the next level of luxury that the tester's over $80,000 price tag would make you want. The good news is that the price tag reflects the fact that nearly all options boxes come checked on the model.

Lincoln's 30-way adjustable front seats are in the model and offer massage capability and lumbar support in addition to a sizable amount of cushion movement. Despite all the adjustability, it's not easy to get comfortable. The same problem persists in the Genesis G90, which has nearly the same level of adjustability. Maybe less is more in this respect?

2020 Lincoln Aviator & Aviator Hybrid The Aviator employs much of the same styling as the Lincoln Navigator. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

The car's long list of standard and available features makes riding in the Aviator a pleasurable experience. Getting a top-tier model adds a panoramic sunroof, quad-zone climate control, wireless device charging, a 28-speaker Revel Ultima 3D audio system, HD Radio, navigation, six USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen, and satellite radio.

The Lincoln Co-Pilot360 safety offerings are especially well executed and it's earned some of the highest marks possible from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

There are several parts of the Aviator that win it points, but those are mostly the same as in the Navigator. It is well-appointed, has unique infotainment text that makes the system look more refined, abundant cargo space, and phone-as-key functionality. But, it's not as upscale as its German and Japanese rivals and not as invigorating to drive.

2020 Lincoln Aviator & Aviator Hybrid Lincoln has given the Aviator a good amount of cargo space. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

Simply put, the Aviator doesn't live up to its price tag. When compared to the redesigned Acura MDX, the Aviator costs $20,000 more and is not nearly as nice to ride in or drive. The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, though not in the luxury category, offer a similar level of styling for far less as well. The Mercedes-Benz GLE is available in a number of trim levels that cost less than the Aviator but delivers more power coming from its mild-hybrid powertrain in some grades. Those seeking a hybrid powertrain and well-appointed interior for less money than a Benz should shop the Toyota Highland Hybrid.

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Electric vehicles

NHTSA looking into Tesla's in-car video games

Some owners have discovered that their car's video games work when the car is moving.

Tesla

Tesla's vehicles are among the most advanced and forward-thinking products of any kind, but serious innovation doesn't come with tradeoffs. The automaker has been in the news recently because of issues with how its advanced cruise control systems function, and now, Autoblog reports that the NHTSA is asking questions about Tesla giving drivers the ability to play video games and browse the internet while driving.

Tesla Arcade hands-on: the Model 3 is your video game console youtu.be

The feature is intended to be used while the car is parked, such as while charging, so the discovery that people can use them while driving is a serious one. Vince Patton, the person who filed the complaint with the NHTSA, tested his car and found that he could play Solitaire and a fairly involved action game while it was in motion. Internet browsing was also possible, meaning the driver could take their attention completely off the road ahead for extended periods of time.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla's screens offer advanced functions that many others do not. Tesla

Tesla was already under investigation over crashes involving its Autopilot feature. Several collisions have occurred between Teslas and emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Following the initiation of that investigation, the NHTSA raised other questions with the automaker over a buggy software update that was pushed out, retracted, fixed, and reissued outside of the normal recall process. Despite their names, it's important to clarify that neither the Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving features are capable of driving the cars without driver awareness and input.

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The Navigator gets several updates for 2022, including new styling and tech.

Lincoln

The Lincoln Navigator was one of the first ultra-luxury SUVs when it launched over two decades ago, which helped kickstart the big-vehicle craze that still rages on today. Lincoln has continued improving the Navigator over the years to the point that it's now a rolling showcase of the latest and most impressive tech, staggering luxury features, and actual utility vehicle functionality. The vehicle was last fully overhauled in 2018, but the 2022 model picks up revised style, even more premium features, and new themes for the range-topping Navigator Black Label model.


2022 Lincoln Navigator Black Label is Lincoln's top trim offering, and is available in several of its vehicles. Lincoln


Lincoln introduced two new themes as part of the Navigator's Black Label offering for 2022. The Central Park theme features dark walnut open-pore wood trim, luxury leather in an exclusive Urban Green color, and an available Black Label-exclusive Manhattan Green Metallic paint color. The Invitation theme brings open-pore Khaya wood, Venetian luxury black leather, special interior lighting elements, and brandy-colored stitching. Both themes feature laser etching and other intricate detail work inside the vheicle.


2022 Lincoln Navigator The Navigator Black Label is offered with two new themes: Central Park and Invitation.Lincoln


Black Label launched in 2014 and is Lincoln's top-end end model offering. It's available in the Nautilus, Aviator, and Navigator, and brings several vehicle features and auxiliary services to Lincoln owners. Black Label vehicle features and services include:

  • Concierge access: The Lincoln concierge can schedule service or cleaning, answer vehicle questions, and help schedule dinners or other experiences. Black Label owners also get a complimentary dinner for two, which can be scheduled through the concierge.
  • Special airport and rental car services: Lincoln partnered with Avis to provide guaranteed rental car access, an exclusive and dedicated phone line for Black Label owners, and free rentals at select airports. Owners also get a membership to CLEAR, which offers expedited airport security passage and other perks.
  • Extended complimentary maintenance plan: Black Label owners receive four years of free maintenance. If the owner lives within 50 miles of a dealer, they will pick up and deliver the vehicle so that the owner does not need to leave home. Free car washes and annual detailing are also part of the deal.

We don't have pricing details for the 2022 Navigator yet, but we expect its price tag to be similar to that of the 2021 Black Label model, which started at around $100,000 after destination. Lincoln says that it will release more information closer to the Navigator's expected on-sale date early in 2022.


2022 Lincoln Navigator Black Label models feature a staggering level of attention to detail.Lincoln

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