Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 31 March 2020

Road test: why the Lincoln Aviator Presidential is a good alternative in the SUV market

the Aviator is a capable and well-rounded offering and has enough going for it to be a realistic alternative to the German or Japanese luxe SUV brigade

The Lincoln Aviator offers a smooth ride. Gautam Sharma for The National
The Lincoln Aviator offers a smooth ride. Gautam Sharma for The National

The very mention of Lincoln is likely to conjure images of vast land yachts, such as the gargantuan Continentals of the 1960s and 1970s. However, changing buyer tastes mean high-riding SUV crossovers comprise two-thirds of the American brand’s current model range.

Its latest debutant is the seven-seat Aviator, which was created to lock horns with premium offerings such as the Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery, Volvo XC90, Lexus GX 460 and Infiniti QX60. The Lincoln is offered in two variants – the Aviator Reserve (from Dh292,845) and the Aviator Presidential (from Dh320,145) – although a cheaper base model will join the line-up this year.

There was a time when Lincoln and Cadillac dressed up utilitarian hardware in fancy clothes, but that’s not the case here. The Aviator is underpinned by a sophisticated mixed-­material platform – predominantly steel – that enables it to tip the scales at 2,224 kilograms, relatively trim for its size, in all-wheel-drive form. The rear-drive version is about 50kg lighter.

Motive power comes from a similarly high-tech powertrain that mates Ford’s latest 3.0-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 with a 10-speed automatic. This combination is both smooth and potent, as the V6 motor’s 405-horsepower wallop enables it to dispatch the 0-100 kilometres per hour sprint in six seconds with relative ease.

There’s a decent level of refinement, too, as both wind and road noise are well suppressed, while the ride quality served up by the Air Glide suspension – which uses a front-facing camera to read the road surface and prepare the suspension to cope with bumps – is as supple as that of Lincoln’s European competitors. A plush ride is something you might take for granted in an American offering, yet the Aviator isn’t the clumsy, lumbering behemoth its predecessors were. It’s actually respectably agile for its girth.

A clever feature is that the Air Glide suspension lowers the car on approach to your destination, which makes it simpler to climb into the vehicle or hoist heavy objects into the load bay. Conversely, it raises the vehicle in “Deep Conditions” (Off-Road) mode, although few owners are likely to venture into the dunes in the Aviator, as it’s predominantly an urban warrior.

The interior of the Lincoln Aviator. Gautam Sharma for The National
The interior of the Lincoln Aviator. Gautam Sharma for The National

The Lincoln’s cabin is ­generally well executed as the 30-way adjustable seats are comfortable and offer enough lateral support to keep you in place during spirited driving. For the second row, you can specify a pair of captain’s chairs – which reduces seating capacity to six – or a three-seat bench.

However, the Aviator’s premium cockpit ambience is let down by the hard plastic used for the lower half of the inner door trims and transmission tunnel. And while access to the third-row bench is relatively simple, the seats are set low. Load space is decent but by no means class-leading as you can stash 518 litres of cargo with all seats in place, or up to 1,184 litres if you fold the third-row of seating down.

Overall, the Aviator is a capable and well-rounded offering and has enough going for it to be a realistic alternative to the German or Japanese luxe SUV brigade. It’s undoubtedly the most convincing vehicle turned out by Lincoln to date and it augurs well for the future of a brand that hadn’t until now carved out a solid niche for itself in our region.

Updated: February 19, 2020 04:50 PM

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