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The new Lincoln Aviator, alongside the new Lincoln Navigator, has helped refocus the Lincoln Motor Company’s standing in the automotive luxury landscape and has done well to broaden its appeal to new age demographics. With the redesign of the Lincoln Navigator in 2018 and the many surprising aspects of the good-looking Aviator brought to us as a 2020 model in 2019, the brand has enjoyed a newfound recognition on how to do American luxury. Now, with the 2022 model year, the Aviator mostly remains the same but gets a new Jet appearance package that elevates its presence as seen on my latest Aviator Reserve test vehicle.
The 2022 Lincoln Aviator returns with only the minor changes of reworked equipment packages and a new Jet appearance package that blacks out all the exterior trim pieces that would have otherwise had a chrome finish. After spending time with the new Aviator that sports the new Jet package I am again amused by the head-turning appeal of such a vehicle.
Powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine the Lincoln Aviator doesn’t slouch on power getting 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque to work with and send through a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission and power all four wheels on my nearly loaded-up Reserve trim test vehicle. The power output comes on strong without hardly any turbo lag from a stop. Sixty miles per hour comes in around 5.5 seconds after power braking and there’s a welcomed engine sound that makes its presence known instead of muffling the sound completely as you may have expected in such a smooth-riding midsized 3-row luxury crossover. However, when you start to cruise without much acceleration things get very quiet as they should as the Aviator often feels as if it is floating over road imperfections thanks to its air suspension setup with adaptive dampers and a trick road preview system to monitor the road and make millisecond adjustments to lessen the impact of road potholes or rises.
Where the air suspension setup, as part of the optional Dynamic Handling Package doesn’t do well is where Lincoln fails to offer any manual settings to control the ride height of the vehicle. Instead, the system is all automated and only modified through a change of the drive mode where the Excite mode (basically a sport drive mode) will lower the vehicle slightly for a lower center of gravity or the Deep Conditions drive mode is more of an off-roading setting where the suspension will raise the vehicle to its highest setting for better ground clearance. Otherwise, the system makes its own choices to lower all the way to make entry easier but only lower slightly for exiting the vehicle. The lower setting is also enacted upon opening the rear handsfree power liftgate for easy loading.
Opting for the Dynamic Handling Package doesn’t necessarily add to the handling abilities of the new Aviator but instead gives you a smoother ride quality and the adaptability of the air suspension adjustments. Often, the ride is almost too smooth that you have an unsure feeling if the Aviator is up to the task of handling winding roads but will actually surprise you with its quick damper adjustments to keep the body composed and hardly ever too floaty or allowing unsettling body roll. In a nutshell, the Aviator with the Dynamic Handling Package is among the best riding vehicles I’ve experienced, almost as good as what you find in a new Rolls-Royce.
Where things get refreshing for the 2022 model year is a new Jet appearance package that changes all of the exterior trim pieces that would otherwise be finished in Chrome to a darkened color in addition to having the 22-inch wheels finished in black. Overall, the new Jet appearance package transforms the look of the Aviator not to make it menacing but adds a sporty elegance to what I consider to already be one of the best-looking vehicles of its kind on the road today. The unfortunate part of the Jet appearance package is that it is only offered in the Reserve trim and in four exterior colors: Black, Silver Radiance, Burgundy Velvet, and Pristine White. The Reserve trim levels also do away with the soft-close doors, which can only be had on the top-level Black Label and Black Label Grand Touring plug-in hybrid trim.
The new Lincoln Aviator gets respectable fuel mileage but is often difficult to match the EPA estimates if you decide to travel slightly above the posted highway and interstate speed limits. I found that at a steady 65 to 70 mph you can easily match the 24 mpg EPA estimate and match the city estimate of 17 mpg around town in mixed heavy traffic. Once you start to push the Aviator just above 70 mph the fuel economy quickly decreases to about 23 mpg to as low as 22.8 mpg from my observation. Otherwise, the all-wheel-drive Aviator’s 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway on the rear-wheel-drive model) are good for its power output and much better than vehicles like the Cadillac XT6.
Lincoln didn’t go all out to follow its German competition when it comes to the interior and technology used. Instead, Lincoln set their own terms and gave the new Aviator a unique cabin that treats its driver and passengers to a new level of luxury through a simplistic layout and a straightforward infotainment system powered by the latest Sync 3 system and a 10.1-inch touchscreen handling the bulk of features and settings. The welcomed physical buttons for the 3-zone automatic climate control system are welcomed along with the physical audio controls that are all prominent in an easy-to-reach angled panel.
What I do miss in the latest Aviator which was found in the 2020 model year is dedicated digital displays for the temperature readouts just above the temperature control. Those displays are now gone and greatly missed if you ever display Android Auto or Apple CarPlay that takes up the full screen and requires you to dig into the vehicle’s screen or adjust the temperature to then display the temperature setting momentarily.
Completing the luxury theme for the Aviator is the rest of its remarkable cabin that’s laced with plentiful soft-touch surfaces and the upgraded 30-way power-adjustable front seats that feature heating, ventilation, and an array of massage functions for both your back and bottom. The seats can be somewhat of a mixed bag for some as it does require a bit of time to find the optimal position and they feel like they are mounted a bit too high. The second row of seats are almost as plush and features both heating and ventilation with the proper forward, aft, and reclining adjustments and can be configured with just the two captain’s chairs or a full bench to accommodate three passengers. Getting to the third row of seats is relatively easy through a pneumatic half-folding adjustment of the second row at the push of a button. The third row fits two adults but is not very accommodating for longer trips as legroom may be cut short depending on the positioning of the second row. There is a decent amount of cargo room behind the third row, more than what most vehicles in its class offer.
The Lincoln Aviator gets all the expected active safety features bundled up in its standard Lincoln Co-Pilot360 package with the Reserve trim and above getting the Co-Pilot360 Plus equipment adding active park assist with enhanced active park assist, evasive steering assist, and adaptive cruise control. Otherwise, you get the standard features of lane dentures warning, lane keep assist, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert, auto high-beam headlights, and a 360-degree camera system.
The pricing of the new Lincoln Aviator starts at a reasonable level around $51,780 for the Standard base trim before any options or fees. Where things start to get a bit high are the Black Label ($80,000) and Black Label Grand Touring plug-in hybrid trims ($89,000), even through the highest pricing still undercuts direct competition from similarly equipped German 3-row luxury crossovers. My nicely-equipped Aviator Reserve trim loaded with all the options including the Dynamic Handling Package and new Jet Package comes to the price of $78,895 including a $1,195 destination charge.
Lincoln certainly has done well with the Aviator, and if they keep on such a trend with their unique approach to American luxury, they will continue to be much more than the old thought of being a glorified Ford.
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