2020 Lincoln Aviator first drive: Lincoln’s brand of luxury is back

Powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, the Aviator has 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque on tap — and that’s the base engine. The Aviator Grand Touring is the higher-output hybrid model in this two-tier lineup with 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque (yes, really), which we’ll talk about in a separate review. But with 400 hp in the base model, which uses a rear-wheel drive architecture like the new Explorer with which it shares its platform, there is already plenty to talk about as Lincoln fires a series unsubtle cannon shots across the bow of its rival luxury galleons. A total of five driving modes with quirky names (except for the first one) are on the menu — Normal, Conserve, Excite, Slippery and Deep Conditions — and can be dialed in via the rotary knob positioned on the center console, just south of the two metallic volume and tuning knobs.
Aside from pure power, the Aviator has plenty of chassis tech on the menu as well. Adaptive Suspension with Road Preview uses a forward-facing camera to scan the road almost 50 feet ahead and adjust the suspension to mitigate impact from potholes as shallow as two inches in depth. An optional Adaptive Suspension is the more basic version of the Aviator’s bag of suspension tricks, using 12 sensors to read the road 500 times per second, and to dial in adjustments 100 times per second — this system stiffens shock absorbers in response to major dips in the road to reduce the amount of the drop. The top suspension system on the menu is the Air Glide, which trades coil springs for guided air springs and will automatically drops the ride height upon the approach of the driver.
All of this sounds very nice on your computer screen, but does the base Aviator model set itself apart from an ever-growing cast of rivals, foreign and domestic?