Dissecting Lincoln’s two biggest SUVs
With new players in its lineup and a change in its model naming nomenclature, some people may be confused byLincoln‘s newest models. TheLincoln Aviatoris making a comeback after more than a decade; it’s arriving with three rows and competing against theVolvo XC90andAudi Q7. The Navigator also has three rows and is much bigger than the Aviator. It competes against theCadillac Escalade. Here’s a look at how these two models differ.
If you’re more familiar withFord‘s lineup, think of the Aviator as the Explorer and the Navigator as the Expedition. The Explorer and Aviator share the same platform, as do the Expedition and Navigator.
To put it in perspective, this is how the Aviator compares with the Navigator. Note that the Navigator can also be had with a long wheelbase as the Navigator L.
Corresponding to its smaller overall size, the Aviator’s interior is more compact, especially in the third row. Tall adults can sit in the Navigator and still enjoy plenty of headroom and legroom, but it’s a different story in the Aviator.
If you don’t get the optional captain’s chairs, it can be difficult to squeeze in between the Aviator’s seats and C-pillar; the space is pretty tight. I was able to do it (I’m 6 feet tall) in the smaller SUV, but it wasn’t particularly easy. Third-row legroom is pretty tight, and even though the second row can slide forward, there’s not much space for your knees. The third-row seat is also very close to the ground, so the seating position isn’t very comfortable.
Besides its larger interior space and size, the Navigator is boxier than the Aviator. The bigger Lincoln has a more robust profile, whereas the Aviator looks more polished and has crispier lines. Although both SUVs sport Lincoln’s new grille and have similar design cues, it’s easy enough to tell the two models apart. Just as with the Expedition and Explorer, where one is boxier and bigger than the other, the Aviator and Navigator play the same game.
Lincoln aligns its trims uniformly across its models, so the Aviator and Navigator come with similar equipment. The Aviator’s base trim is the Standard, followed by Reserve and Black Label. The Grand Touring plug-in hybrid comes in two trims: Grand Touring and Black Label.
The Navigator also starts with the Standard trim and moves up with Select, Reserve, and Black Label. The long wheelbase model is available in Select, Reserve, and Black Label trims.
The two models are similarly equipped, with 30-way adjustable massaging seats. On a recent drive in the Aviator Reserve, we enjoyed its tasteful aluminum trim; the Black Label’s open-pore wood was elegant and complemented the leather interior nicely.
The interior design can vastly vary depending on the trim and optional interior packages. The ultimate way to up the interior is to step up to the Black Label trim, which comes with your choice of three striking leather combinations.
The piano-key shifter, infotainment screen, and digital display are standard across all trims. The attention to detail—like the handle-less doors andsmartway to use the steering buttons are all standard in the Aviator.
Chassis and Powertrain
Under their sheetmetal, though, the two vehicles couldn’t be more different. whereas the Navigator is built on a body-on-frame chassis with optional 4×4 traction, the Aviator is rear-wheel-drive with available with all-wheel drive.
The Navigator is only available with one engine—a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 that delivers 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. This is the same powertrain used in theFord Expeditionand the F-150.
The Aviator is available with two different powertrains. The base engine is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that produces 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque; the Grand Touring plug-in hybrid is powered by the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 mated to a 13.6-kW-hr battery and an electric motor to deliver an eye-opening 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque. Both engines work with a refined 10-speed automatic that makes smooth shifts with either powertrain.