If you’re in the market for a luxury plug-in hybrid SUV, you have a few choices. There’s the Volvo XC90 Recharge, BMW X5 45e, Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid, and – in Europe – the Range Rover Sport PHEV. The latest addition to this segment is the 2021 Lincoln Aviator and it has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Engine – Where most of the other PHEV SUVs have roughly 400 hp engines (with the exception of the Cayenne Turbo S e-Hybrid at 670 hp), the Lincoln Aviator offers more, much more. It is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 engine that has a total system output of 494 hp (368 kW). But that’s not all, the total system torque is a mouthwatering 630 lb-ft (854 Nm)! That’s more than the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 which already has one of the most “torquiest” engines on the market. However, while it has more power & torque than a 3rd world country, it doesn’t translate to a very quick 0-100 km/h time. At least, not as fast as one would expect with this much power on tap. It can do the 0-100 km/h sprint in just over 5 seconds which is quick for sure, but the BMW X5 45e & Volvo XC90 T8 can do the same sprint in the same time. But in the Aviator, you do get that nice feeling of being pushed into the back of the seat as the V6 engine in conjunction with the electric motor provide smooth acceleration. In this PHEV configuration, the Aviator GT can tow up to 5,600 lbs.
This being a PHEV, it can drive on electricity alone for about 32 km (20 miles). During my time with the SUV, the most I was able to squeeze out of the 13.6 kWh battery was 34 km (21 miles) in the middle of summer with A/C always on. The all-electric range may differ for you depending on your climate control use, ambient temperatures, terrain, driving style, etc. To recharge the battery, you’re looking at around 3 hours from a level 2 charger and about 12 hours from a regular wall outlet.
As for fuel economy, the 2021 Lincoln Aviator PHEV is officially rated at 4.2 Le/100 km (56 MPGe). When it’s running on the engine, it is rated for 10.9 L/100km (21.6 MPG) in a city and 9.6 L/100km (24.5 MPG) on a highway. I managed to average around 6.4 L/100km (36.8 MPG) but that number depends greatly on how often you can plug it in and recharge the battery. but still not a bad fuel economy figure for something that weighs more than the moon.
Transmission – Mated to the engine is a 10-speed automatic. Under normal driving conditions, the transmission is barely noticeable as the shifts are smooth. But once you put your foot down, the transmission can be a little slow to react to your inputs. Furthermore, the paddle shifters also take a while to respond.
Braking – The 2021 Lincoln Aviator GT tips the scales at 2,573 kg (5,672 lbs) but it doesn’t use big 4-piston calipers like the BMW X5 45e with the M-Sport package. As a result, braking performance is tailored more towards everyday driving rather than spirited driving through a canyon road. There’s also quite a bit of nose dive under emergency braking situations due to the air suspension that is tuned to provide a comfortable ride.
Handling – The Aviator is by no means a sporty driving SUV. The steering is precise and quick to react but the sheer weight of the body & chassis make it feel like a lumbering whale around corners. While it has adaptive suspension, body roll is evident on twisty roads. Having said that, this is not an SUV that you take on the Nurburgring, for example. This is an SUV that provides the utmost in comfort.
Ride Comfort – The air suspension and adaptive dampers make the Lincoln Aviator feel almost as though it’s gliding over bumps. It has a camera mounted in the windshield that scans the road ahead and adjusts the suspension accordingly to provide a smooth ride. The result is a ride that is on par with the most expensive German rivals. Bumps are absorbed quickly and the body is settled almost instantly so that you don’t get that “floaty” feeling. Sure, you do feel certain bumps but they are much more ironed out in this Lincoln than in similarly priced luxury SUVs.
Aiding the suspension are the “perfect Position” 30-way seats in the front. These seats have an almost infinite amount of positions for almost all body types but to be honest, they are not quite as comfortable as they are set out to be. Nearly every aspect of the seats can be adjusted but it feels like as though there are still small pressure points here and there. When you’re in the Lincoln showroom, sit in one that has these seats and one that doesn’t and see which one is more comfortable for yourself. Personally, I feel more comfortable in the standard 12-way seats.
Interior Space – Legroom in the front seats is plentiful for tall adults. Headroom is also good but overall, it is less than other luxury SUVs. As well, because of the black headliner, it could feel claustrophobic to some. The 2nd row seats are spacious for adults but again, headroom feels like it’s a bit less than other SUVs. The 2nd row captain’s chairs can slide forwards & backwards and recline. A bench with three seating positions is available. The 2nd row chairs are heated & ventilated and both the 2nd & 3rd rows have independent climate controls.
Getting into the 3rd row is not too difficult. At the push of a button, the 2nd row seat springs forward. The pass through is a bit small but at least you don’t have to wait an eternity for the seat to move forward. Check out my review of the GLS 63 to see what I mean. The 3rd row seats are pretty spacious for average sized adults with just enough leg and head room. Taller adults like myself will find them a bit tight.
Behind all rows of seats is 519 L (18.3 cu-ft) of cargo volume. With the 3rd row seats folded via electronic buttons in the trunk, you’ll have 1,183 L (41.7 cu-ft) of space. And with all seats folded, there is 2,200 L (77.7 cu-ft) of cargo volume.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – When driving on electricity, the Aviator is dead silent. Apart from the stereo – if you have it on – the only thing you’ll hear in the cabin is a tiny bit of noise from the tires on highways. However, once the engine turns on, it does make itself evident inside the Aviator. When accelerating from a stop, the engine noise is very evident and unfortunately it’s not a great sounding V6. But at least the noise is more subdued once cruising and the transition from electric driving to gasoline driving is smooth.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The non-hybrid variant of the Aviator starts at a low $68,750 CAD ($51,570 USD) which undercuts the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE, and while it is about $4,000 more expensive than the Volvo XC90, it has about 150 hp more than the entry level XC90. This 2021 Lincoln Aviator GT PHEV will cost you $94,950 CAD ($88,985 USD) as equipped. It is a lot of money but it’s still less than the similarly equipped European counterparts.
For your money, you’ll receive a full suite of advanced driver and safety aids including lane centering and adaptive cruise control with stop/go function, a panoramic sunroof, heated, ventilated & massaging front seats, heated & ventilated 2nd row captain’s chairs, automatic climate control across all 3 rows, head-up display, air suspension with easy entry & exit, surround view cameras, Active park assist which can park the SUV in perpendicular or parallel spots and can quickly search for a parking garage in the navigation system, 21-inch wheels, and a cool illuminated Lincoln badge.
As for the infotainment system, it uses a 10.1” touchscreen but unfortunately still utilizes Sync 3 rather than Sync 4 that is featured in the new F-150. The Sync 3 system still works well but it’s not as fast as the newer system and does not support wireless CarPlay & Android Auto. Only wired.
Interior Design – The new Aviator took a lot of inspiration from the 2019 Navigator. The dashboard looks pretty much identical with the same prominent touchscreen, gear selector buttons, and climate control buttons. It’s really nice that Lincoln has stuck with physical buttons and knobs while others, coughHyundaiTucsoncough, have done away with physical buttons. As for the materials, they look and feel of high quality. The leather is soft and the wood looks as though it belongs in the car.
Exterior Design – The Aviator shares pretty much the same front fascia with other Lincoln SUVs. It has the same grille, same headlights with DRL accent, and same optional illuminated Lincoln badge. Around back is where it has its own unique styling with quad exhaust tips – which are actually pointed downwards if you look closely – and very elegant tail lights. In side profile, it has a somewhat sloping roofline, almost like the Range Rover Sport, and an Aviator badge on the front fender.
Warranty – The basic warranty is 4 years / 80,000 km which is on par with other luxury SUVs. But the powertrain warranty is 6 years / 110,000 km. The hybrid components have an 8 year / 160,000 km warranty. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For USA warranty info, click here.
So is the 2021 Lincoln Aviator PHEV worth your money. For longer trips, the fuel economy benefit isn’t there. The standard, non-hybrid Aviator’s fuel economy is not that far off from this one. But if your daily commutes are within the 30-ish km mark and you can plug-in the Aviator at work, at home, at the grocery store, etc, this Lincoln is a worthwhile investment. It gets compliments wherever it goes, offers a fantastic ride, and is a bit less expensive than the competitors. A worthwhile investment indeed.
Thank you to Lincoln Canada for providing the vehicle. www.LincolnCanada.com