2018 New York - Lincoln previews the Aviator, it's next luxury SUV salvo

Lincoln is back doing what it does best in New York. Back in 2015, Ford's luxury division announced its intentions in style by stealing the limelight with the Continental Concept before following it up an year later with the superb Navigator Concept. Sure enough, production versions of both cars followed with hardly any changes from the concepts displayed. The 2018 edition of the New York Auto Show was declared open yesterday and Lincoln is back creating a splutter, this time with the preview of its next model, the Aviator. 

The Aviator nameplate was first used in the year 2002 for a mid-size 3-row luxury SUV that was based on the then Ford Explorer. With Lincoln's alphabetic naming convention taking over, it became the MKT. While both those models never became popular among luxury car buyers, the times have changed. Lincolns today aren't being looked down as just dolled-up Fords and rightfully so. Don't believe us? Just look at the all-new Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator side-by-side and you'll see for yourself.

The Aviator Concept you see here, then, continues the brand's resurgence. Wearing Lincoln's classy new design language, the Aviator takes the style quotient several notches higher compared to the lousy MKT it would be replacing. Sharp, angular headlights sit on either side of Lincoln's now-familiar grille with staggered chrome ingots inside. Dense towards the center and gradually spaced out as we move outwards, the grille looks fantastic. The sculpted hood and the elegant bumper complete the fascia. True to its name, the Aviator has a tapered-down profile with the roof dropping dramatically as we move towards the rear. Wraparound windshield and Lincoln's trademark full-width taillights characterize the derriere with the quad taillights being the other attention-grabber.

The interiors are fabulous borrowing a whole lot from the bigger and plusher Navigator. While the layout and design is similar, the Aviator also gets those "Perfect Position" seats that the Continental debuted with 30-way electrical adjustments. Of course, there's lots and lots of soft touch leather and brushed metal inserts in the well decked-out cabin that has three spacious rows of seating. The third row can seat 6-footers in total comfort, Lincoln claims. Also debuting with the Aviator would be a feature called "Phone as a Key" that lets us lock, unlock and start the vehicle with our phone.  

While complete details of what's under the hood of the Aviator Concept isn't known, Lincoln has been generous enough in saying it'll get a twin turbocharged EcoBoost engine under the hood with an available Plug-in Hybrid option (PHEV). Ford's 10-speed automatic is likely to be the transmission of choice. The other big news is the Aviator shifting to a rear wheel drive platform (RWD) that's also likely to underpin the upcoming next-generation Explorer, Ford's popular midsize SUV. 

Recent history says the Aviator should make it to production pretty much unchanged in a year or so. And once that happens, expect this smart luxury offering to keep Lincoln's cash registers ringing along with the hot-selling Navigator!

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