One of the things I love about a Lincoln, regardless of its model, is that if you showed it to someone who had no interest in cars and asked where it came from, they’d most likely know it was the US. The brand’s styling has, for a long time, been New York Park Avenue chic and the latest Aviator takes it another step further.
Admittedly, the model remains in the shadow of its big brother, the full-sized Navigator, but after a few days, I was OK with that, given the decreasing size of shopping mall car park ramps and office parking spots. Within, it didn’t feel small at all, especially as it remains a seven-seater while the features and comfort are line-ball with the Navigator.
New for 2022 is a full-length panoramic sunroof that is well insulated for UAE summers, helped by a four-zone climate control air-con system. The driver-assistance package now includes front, rear and side parking sensors, while a camera located on the windscreen behind the rear-view mirror scans the road ahead for potholes and imperfections, sending instructions to the adaptive dampers to maintain ride quality.
Using the Ford Explorer platform, the Aviator is easy to manoeuvre, park and thread through traffic, while still being big enough to carry four adults, a few children, the dog and luggage with a high degree of comfort.
The middle row offers a 40:20:40 split, which can slide and recline. A six-seat version is also available using captain’s chairs in the centre for easier access to the back or, when fitted with a full-length console, offering the ultimate in rear-area decadence.
The driver gets a 30-way adjustable, heated and cooled massage seat to add to the floaty American feel. If the chrome is a bit much, Lincoln has added a Jet package that replaces the bling with a gloss black trim.
Compared with other manufacturers that use rotary controllers for the interior or multiple touchscreens, Lincoln's single-screen configuration and traditional climate control switches are delightfully intuitive and easy to use. The gear selector, though, is disguised as a series of parallel buttons on the dash. However, that does free up more centre console room for the wireless phone charger as well as a 25.6 centimetre SYNC3 multimedia touchscreen. This controls a 360-degree camera system, houses the on-board Wi-Fi hotspot, is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and operates a sensational 28-speaker audio system.
Information for the driver is fed via a 31.2cm configurable digital instrument cluster, as well as via a Heads Up Display that reflects information off the windscreen.
Like the Navigator, lift the hood on the new Aviator and you’ll no longer see a V8. Rather it houses a potent three-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 that is among the most powerful standard engines in the mid-size luxury SUV segment, delivering 400bhp and 563Nm of torque, backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The drivetrain offers five modes to alter the suspension, ride height, steering weight and shift points depending on whether you’re after light steering and riding-on-a-cloud feel, or a more weighted Euro-style option that gives the driver more feedback. That feel also depends on the wheel and tyre combo — 50.8cm rims are standard, while The National’s test car featured 55.9cm rims that gave a marginally firmer ride.
An optional Dynamic Handling package steps things up with adaptive air suspension that lowers it for improved aerodynamics, raises it for kerbs and ground clearance and constantly adapts itself to the road conditions as it previews the data received from the forward-facing camera.
While it doesn’t feel as athletic as its European competitors, such as the BMW X5, Audi Q8 and Porsche Cayenne, the 2022 Aviator is cheaper spec-for-spec at a little more than Dh300,000. In addition to being incredibly quiet around town, it is arguably more prestigious in look and feel as well.
The Lincoln’s forte is more about effortless city and urban cruising and this is its point of difference to its Euro rivals. The Aviator proves you don’t need overly stiff suspension and track-going pretences based on a marketing-driven Nurburgring lap time to build a good, competent and comfortable executive family-sized hauler.