The idea of an eco-friendly three-row SUV might sound like an oxymoron, but Ford has actually done it with the all-new 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring edition.A new model for 2020, the automaker based the Aviator on the completely redesigned Ford Explorer SUV. But Ford added plug-in hybrid technology and tons of luxury accoutrements.
On the outside, the Aviator features a beefy grille and hood in front, which lead back to large front and back doors that open with a hefty “chunk” noise that sounds like a bank vault opening or closing.
The model’s side mirrors fold or unfold automatically when you approach or depart the car with the key fob in your hand. My test model also illuminated the door handles at night automatically, along with using a special light to project a cool Lincoln logo on the ground near the driver’s side door.
Additionally, my test vehicle included 21-inch premium painted machined aluminum wheels (part of a $14,950 Equipment Group 302A options package). And it came with a fantastic “Panoramic Vista Roof” that basically makes the Aviator’s entire top into a giant sunroof.
The Aviator comes with a push-button liftgate that opens to a cargo bay that’s decent sized even when you’re using all three rows of seats. This area could easily fit four or five grocery bags, and also has a small privacy compartment for the plug-in hybrid charger and a handbag or two. (There’s no spare tire.)If that’s not enough space for you, a great push-button electric system drops the third-row seats flat automatically.
This makes for a very generous cargo bay that can accommodate three or four large suitcases or a small appliance such as a window air conditioner.And if that’s still not enough room, the second-row seats easily fold flat as well, creating a truly cavernous cargo bay that could easily handle six or seven large suitcases or a big piece of furniture such as a dresser.
The model’s two second-row seats also offer very good headroom, legroom and hip room if the third-row seats aren’t in use and these seats are set far back. They come with individual armrests. While I found these seats very spacious, they put some strain on my lower back after a while – probably due to the vehicle’s sloping roofline lowering their position in the cabin relative to the floor.
The SUV’s third-row seats aren’t bad, but require some athleticism to climb into or out of. Only two small kids or one adult could use them, though, unless the second-row seats are moved up a bit. Even then, two adults could comfortably use the third row only for short city trips, although small kids or a baby carrier would work fine for longer journeys.
On the road, the Aviator Grand Touring’s plug-in hybrid power plant, all-wheel drive and 10-speed automatic transmission work well. The model combines a 400-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 engine with an electric motor that’s rated to run all-electric for up to 21 miles.Combined, the systems offer 494 horsepower, which provided plenty of power for jack-rabbit quick starts during my test drives. Braking was also excellent.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rates the Aviator Grand Touring AWD at 23 mpg combined city/highway in gasoline-only mode, or 56 mpg in a mix of hybrid/all-electric operation. I got combined 33 mpg overall during a weeklong test drive – very good for a large vehicle, but probably worth the extra tens of thousands of dollars only if you’re a real environmentalist.