2021 Lincoln Aviator

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
September 21, 2020

Buying tip

Buy an Aviator Reserve for better value, but we won’t block your calls if you pick the sybaritic Black Label.

features & specs

Black Label AWD
Black Label Grand Touring AWD
Grand Touring AWD
17 city / 24 hwy
Coming Soon
Coming Soon

The 2021 Lincoln Aviator drops sensational style and space, but the Grand Touring plug-in’s a bit of a misfire.

What kind of car is the 2021 Lincoln Aviator?

It’s a large luxury crossover SUV with up to seven seats. It sits between the smaller Corsair and bigger Navigator in the Lincoln lineup, and compares to SUVs such as the Cadillac XT6 and Audi Q7.

Is the Lincoln Aviator a good car?

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We think it’s very good in the more affordable versions, though we’re smitten with the Black Label interiors. We give it a TCC Rating of 7.3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Lincoln Aviator?

Not much, other than fewer colors and a standard panoramic sunroof on the Reserve. The Aviator’s still a handsome SUV with a lovely, elongated body and an interior that pairs high technology and vintage themes better than almost anything we can name that’s not named Navigator. It’s a love letter to ‘60s Lincolns, from the sport-wagon outline to the lavish but not glitzy interior.

The Aviator couples a 400-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 with a 10-speed automatic for ample power that’s saddled by its 4,774-pound curb weight (in base trim). Grand Touring plug-in hybrids are hundreds of pounds heavier, have iffy shift quality, and their 21 miles of all-electric power don’t seem worth the complexity and cost. All Aviators enjoy a calm, collected ride, though the deeper it goes into complicated roads, the less composed it gets.

The interior deserves high praise, not just for the visual snack it serves up, but also for the space it doles out. Four adults could use the Aviator as a limousine; the second-row captain’s chairs have lovely square backs that echo the past while they support the present. Third-row space is nothing special.

Every Aviator gets automatic emergency braking, the NHTSA gives it five stars, and the IIHS awarded it a Top Safety Pick. 

How much does the 2021 Lincoln Aviator cost?

Prices start just above $52,000, which includes synthetic leather upholstery, power features, and 10-way power front seats. Aviators also get an easily understood infotainment system with a big touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and options for 28-speaker Revel audio, 30-way adjustable front seats, and leather upholstery. A loaded Aviator approaches $90,000.

Where is the Lincoln Aviator made?

In Chicago.


2021 Lincoln Aviator


The Aviator’s signature style scales down handsomely from the Navigator.

Is the Lincoln Aviator a good-looking car?

Very much so. It’s clearly related to the bigger and bolder Navigator, but has a more slippery outline, as well as an interior that bristles with detail. We give it an 8, with one point for the body and two for the cabin above the average.

The Aviator shares a platform with the latest Ford Explorer, and has the same swept-back, low-slung look that’s equal parts crossover SUV and sport wagon. The front end’s bluff, with a wide mesh grille, bougie and brilliant with a light-up logo. The roofline suggests Range Rover, while the LED lighting front and back amplify its clean, uncluttered look. Well, aside from its billboard-sized tailgate lettering.

The intrigue of ‘60s Lincolns shows up inside, where the repetition of rectangles across the dash and the seats have a fresh throwback appeal. The high-tech framework wraps digital gauges and touchscreens in simple outlines of metallic trim and wood. It’s no widescreen like the one in the Kia Telluride, but it’s well-designed. 

The Aviator soars in Black Label editions: Flight’s black and tan trim, Destination’s wood and red leather, and Chalet’s nut-brown and white-leather fantasy, highlighted with a silvery wood-like trim. It’s tony, on-trend, and easily the equal of the Telluride and Benz GLE.

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2021 Lincoln Aviator


The Aviator can tap slingshot power, but it’s sapped by hefty curb weight.

The Aviator’s size makes it a great SUV, but dulls its performance. It’s composed on the highway, but slower than it might be. We give it a 6 for performance. 

How fast is the Lincoln Aviator?

The Aviator can hit 60 mph in about seven seconds, thanks to its strong 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6. Rated at 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, the engine doesn’t sound so impressive, but it’s coupled to a 10-speed automatic with decisive, fuss-free shifts. The Aviator weighs at least 4,774 pounds (4,892 pounds with AWD), so it could be even stronger if it were just a little leaner. Drive modes allow the Aviator to shift its mood from sporty to comfortable, as its computer brain alters transmission and throttle and steering settings; in sport mode, it feels more energetic.

Is the Lincoln Aviator 4WD?

An all-wheel-drive system is an option where it’s not standard in the Aviator lineup. It can move power from the rear wheels to the fronts, but it doesn’t shift power across the rear wheels like an X5 or Q7 can. With the tow package, it can pull up to 6,700 pounds.

Base Aviators have a strut and multi-link suspension, but Lincoln offers adaptive steering, suspension, and a set of air springs to give it a more sophisticated ride. We’ve driven the exotic hardware, and even with 22-inch wheels, it’s excellent at tackling long, wide curves. In tighter corners and in sport settings, the Aviator’s bulk turns the ride bouncy and overly firm, at the same time. It’s best left in comfort modes—and in a comfort mindset.

Is the Lincoln Aviator a hybrid?

The Aviator Grand Touring takes the twin-turbo V-6 and hooks it up with a 13.6-kwh lithium-ion battery pack and a 75-kw electric motor for a net of 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque, good enough to cut its 0-60 mph time to about six seconds. Weight goes up to 5,673 pounds, so towing goes down to 5,600 pounds.

The Grand Touring has a quiet EV mode, but it’s too noisy otherwise for what’s a very expensive luxury vehicle. Other drive modes can preserve battery charge.

The Grand Touring’s weight and smaller wheels give it a slightly better ride, but its shift quality suffers. With it, the 10-speed automatic clunks and misjudges shifts frequently—and its battery enables only 21 miles of electric driving range.

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2021 Lincoln Aviator

Comfort & Quality

With 30-way seats and ample cargo space, the Aviator transports people and things with grace.

The Aviator takes the Navigator’s big-box utility and shrinks it to a more garage-friendly size. It’s a 9 for utility and comfort.

The Aviator rides on a 119.1-inch wheelbase and measures 199.3 inches long, slightly larger than an X5 or Q7. It puts its space to work in the front row, where passengers are coddled in 10-way power-adjustable seats, for a start; 12- or even 30-way seats are available—and if you’re not convinced you need that much adjustment, sit in them first. The base Aviator cabin wears synthetic “hides” but most versions get leather upholstery, and heated and cooled front chairs. 

The second-row seats default to captain’s chairs, but a bench is available on some editions. We prefer the former; they’re more opulent, and the square backs call back to Lincoln’s ‘60s glory days, provided you ignore the cupholders and USB ports nearby. With 40.1 inches of leg room, the Aviator can carry tall people even under a panoramic sunroof in majesty.

The third row, not so much. It’s carved out with 29.2 inches of leg room, and the seat bottom barely rises over the floor. Small people will be fine; tall people will grow irritated. 

Behind the third row the Aviator has 18.3 cubic feet of cargo space; behind row two it’s 41.8 cubes, and behind the front seats, it’s endowed with 77.7 cubic feet of space. The cargo floor is a bit high, but the interior space is usefully shaped.

From the second row ahead, the Aviator’s fit and finish is glamorous and rich-looking, with warm wood and metal and leather on all but the base edition. In the third row, the hard plastics are easy to spot and the dull roar of the V-6 is tough to ignore. 

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2021 Lincoln Aviator


The Aviator gets love from the NHTSA, but it gets a rock from the IIHS.

How safe is the Lincoln Aviator?

The Aviator gets top “Good” crash test results, and “Acceptable” optional headlights that qualify it for a Top Safety Pick award. The rating of “Marginal” on the base headlights precluded it from winning a TSP+ award.  

We give it a 9, since it’s given a five-star overall score by the NHTSA, a TSP by the IIHS, and since it includes standard automatic emergency braking and options for more. 

The Aviator also has standard active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high beams. Most versions can be fitted with front parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, a head-up display, and automatic park assist.

What is automatic park assist? 

It turns the wheel to aim it into a parking spot while the driver controls the brake and throttle.

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2021 Lincoln Aviator


The Aviator can soar above $90,00 in Black Label trim.

The Lincoln Aviator has superb audio and comely interior treatments on tap, but the warranty could use more beef and the price could use less fat. We give it an 8 here.

The base Aviator starts in the low $50,000s, and includes a power tailgate, LED headlights, synthetic leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats, navigation, keyless start, and a 10.1-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Options include leather upholstery, second-row captain’s chairs, sensational 14- or 28-speaker Revel audio, 30-way power-adjustable front seats with heating and cooling, and 22-inch wheels.

Which Lincoln Aviator should I buy?

We like the Aviator Reserve. From about $60,000, it has 20-inch wheels, a surround-view camera system, 14-speaker Revel sound, premium leather, and a panoramic sunroof. The Grand Touring plug-in hybrid, for about $70,000, is equipped similarly.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Lincoln Aviator?

The most expensive Aviator that isn’t a hybrid is the Black Label, which for about $80,000 gains 22-inch wheels and an available middle-row bench seat. The Grand Touring version of this costs about $90,000 and gets 21-inch wheels, with options for a tow package and a rear-seat entertainment system.

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2021 Lincoln Aviator

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is better in the Grand Touring, though still not great.

Is the Lincoln Aviator good on gas?

It’s mixed. The Aviator has an appetite for gas, even as a plug-in hybrid. We give it a 4 for fuel economy, since the EPA rates it the rear-drive edition at 18 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined. With all-wheel drive, it’s 17/24/20 mpg.

The Grand Touring plug-in hybrid is rated at 21 miles of electric range, 56 MPGe, and 23 mpg combined—not stellar numbers for a vehicle intended to impress green-car fans.

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Styling 8
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 9
Features 8
Fuel Economy 4
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