||This article's introduction may be too long for the overall article length. (May 2014)|
||This article should be divided into sections by topic, to make it more accessible. (May 2014)|
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Assembly||Hazelwood, Missouri, USA|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle|
|Body style||5-door SUV|
|Layout||Front engine, rear-wheel drive / all-wheel drive|
|Platform||Ford U1 platform|
Ford Sport Trac
|Engine||4.6 L 32-valve, 4-valve-per-cylinder DOHC Modular V-8|
|Transmission||5-speed 5R55E overdrive automatic|
|Wheelbase||113.7 in (2,888 mm)|
|Length||193.3 in (4,910 mm)|
|Width||73.9 in (1,877 mm)|
|Height||71.9 in (1,826 mm)|
|Successor||Lincoln MKX (officially)
Lincoln MKT (full-size, seven-passenger CUV)
Mercury Mountaineer third generation (luxury version of the Ford Explorer)
The Lincoln Aviator is a luxury sport-utility vehicle (SUV) produced by Ford Motor Company for its Lincoln-Mercury division. Introduced in the latter part of 2002 as a 2003 model, the Aviator was sold through the 2005 model year. Along with the Mark LT and the Continental Mark V, the Aviator is the shortest-produced Lincoln nameplate since 1960 with the exception of the Blackwood pickup.
A twin to the Mercury Mountaineer and Ford Explorer four-door SUVs, the Lincoln Aviator was built exclusively at the Ford St. Louis Assembly plant in Hazelwood, Missouri alongside the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer.
In the early 2000s, following the success of the Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade, the market for luxury sport-utility vehicles had expanded. While established nameplates like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Range Rover had gradually become luxury vehicles, their overall footprint was somewhat smaller than the luxury designs based on American SUVs. In the late 1990s, the market expanded even farther, as Acura, Infiniti, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz each introduced various luxury SUVs; with the exception of the Lexus LX450 (based on the Toyota Land Cruiser), their offerings were 5-passenger designs similarly sized to the Ford Explorer.
To bridge the gap between the Mercury Mountaineer and the Lincoln Navigator, Ford designed a variant of the Explorer and Mountaineer as a stablemate for the Navigator for the 2003 model year. It was also designed as an alternative to customers who wanted a mid-size SUV more upscale than the Mountaineer. In line with the travel-themed nameplate, Lincoln chose the name "Aviator" for its Explorer-based SUV.
Comparison to Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer
On the outside, the Aviator shared most of its sheetmetal with its Ford and Mercury counterparts, with the exception of the grille, lights, and rear tailgate. The Aviator was also equipped with unique running boards and outside mirrors. The interior of the Aviator was practically identical to the Mountaineer, the primary differences being the electroflourescent instrument gauges, walnut wood and leather trimmed steering wheel, walnut wood trim on dashboard and door panels and the center console cover; instead of "LINCOLN" for the Navigator, the cover on the Aviator spelled out "AVIATOR". The seats in the Aviator were upgraded with premium leather upholstery, and could be optioned with heated/cooled seats (vs. heated seats being the only option on the leather equipped Explorer and Mountaineer).
Trim Levels and Features
For 2003, the Aviator was available in two trim levels (Luxury or Premium). For 2004, the Premium trim was renamed Ultimate, in line with other Lincoln models. For 2005, a single Luxury trim was available, with an Elite option package. To differentiate it from the Explorer and Mountaineer, the Aviator was fitted with rear bucket seats and a center console (a bench seat was a no-cost option). Top-of-the-line models were fitted with heated/cooled seats, and HID Xenon headlamps. With the exception of the 2005 model year, standard features on the 2003 Premium or 2004 Ultimate were available as standalone options on the Luxury model.
As with its Ford and Mercury counterparts, the Aviator was fitted with dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbags, stability control, and traction control (AdvanceTrac on AWD models)
Kitty Hawk Special Edition
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the 100th anniversary of Ford Motor Company. Lincoln created a "Kitty Hawk" limited edition of the Aviator; it was the official vehicle of the 2003 EAA Countdown to Kitty Hawk. Along with special Kitty Hawk badging and trim, the limited-edition vehicles were fitted with special wood trim which is mink zebrano, argent painted and chrome grille, and a rear spoiler, chrome wheels, Xenon (HID) headlamps, black premium leather heated/cooled seats with Kitty Hawk logo embossed on front seat backs, black carpet floor mats with stitched Kitty Hawk logo, available only in black exterior color. 
Marketing and Reception
Lincoln played up the similarity to the Navigator full-size SUV with magazine ads that read, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Especially when it's yourself you're imitating." The Aviator seemed to have been met with relatively positive press coverage.
While the Aviator's styling borrowed cues from its big brother, the Navigator, it also looked similar to the very widespread Ford Explorer that it shared a platform with. Also working against the Aviator was that it was priced similar to the larger and relatively popular Ford Expedition, though the Ford SUV was marketed to the middle class, while the Lincoln was marketed to the upper middle class. Car and Driver magazine said in a comparison test, in which the Aviator tied for fifth place, that only the car's high price and lack of certain features held it out of contention for the top spots.
The 4.6 L DOHC Modular V-8 from the Ford Mustang Mach 1 and the Mercury Marauder was the standard engine. It produced 302 hp (225 kW) 300 ft-lbs of torque for the Lincoln Aviator 2 more hp but 55 ft-lbs less than the big brother Navigator. Sending that to either just the rear wheels (RWD) or all wheels (AWD) With a 5-speed 5R55E overdrive automatic.
The Lincoln Aviator was rated to get 13 City/18 Hwy for rear wheel drive models (RWD) and 12 City/17 Hwy for all wheel drive models (AWD). The Lincoln Aviator had a 22.5 gallon tank to support its thirsty 4.6L V8 and with a range of 247-460 miles on a tank depending on mpg of the drivers driving habits. The Lincoln Aviator also requires premium fuel (91+).
Despite the initial critical praise, the Aviator proved to be a poor seller for Lincoln and was slated for cancellation after the 2005 model year—with many hypothesizing that its all-too-familiar looks were to blame. The last Lincoln Aviator rolled off the assembly line on August 19, 2005
Ford intended for the Lincoln Aviator to skip the 2006 model year and reappear as an early 2007 model based on the CD3 platform; a concept vehicle previewing this model appeared at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show. However, as Lincoln revised its branding, all future Lincoln vehicles (aside from the Navigator and Town Car) were branded with an MK nomenclature. The Aviator name was scrapped and the successor which is technically not a successor to the 2003-2005 sport-utility vehicle because it was on a front drive car platform and has no third row seat like the rear drive truck platform that the Aviator was built on was the Lincoln MKX, a crossover-utility vehicle based on the Ford Edge. A 5-passenger vehicle powered by a V6 engine, the MKX is a different vehicle type than the Aviator.
Following the discontinuation of the Aviator, Lincoln-Mercury bridged the gap between the Mercury Mountaineer) and the Navigator by upgrading its interior trim and offering a voice-based navigation system.
|Calendar Year||American sales|
- "Lincoln's derailed gravy train hitches to another car." Car and Driver, December 2002.
- "The Bradsher Bunch", Car and Driver, January 2003.
- "Ford's F-Series Truck Caps 22nd Year in a Row as America's Best-Selling Vehicle With a December Sales Record". Theautochannel.com. 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- "Ford Achieves First Car Sales Increase Since 1999". Theautochannel.com. 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- "Ford Motor Company 2007 sales". January 3, 2008.
|« previous Lincoln, a luxury division of Ford Motor Company – road car timeline, 1980–present|
|Mid-size||Versailles||Continental (Fox)||Continental (D186)||Continental (D186)||Zephyr/MKZ (CD3)||MKZ (CD4)|
|Full-size||Continental (Panther)||Town Car||Town Car||Town Car|
|Personal luxury car|
|Mark Series||Continental Mark VI||Continental Mark VII||Mark VIII|
|Full-size SUV||Navigator (UN173)||Navigator (U228)||Navigator (U326)|
|Extended length SUV||Navigator L (U418)|
|Pickup truck||Blackwood||Mark LT||Mark LT (Mexico)|